Sunday’s Monday Special Edition!
I intentionally left out my past lifestyle insanity because it has been repeated over the centuries by trillions of victims. As I stated in part 1, our stories are all virtually the same with the exception, my name is signed on the bottom line. Truth is a great many of us chose to loose everything (and I do mean everything) that has any importance to us, which covers self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth, my bottom line was I couldn’t stand to be alone with me. I hated me, I cursed the choices I was making, the things I was doing and who I had become. I was caught in Satan’s catch 22, when I was sober all that I wanted was to be drunk and yet when I was drunk all I wanted was to be sober. Honestly, there is no appeasing Satan as he requires a deeper commitment every time we sin! Like telling a lie and telling another lie to strengthen the lie that’s been told, which leads to telling another lie to make the two lies more believable. Satan has us in his palm and is using guilt and fear to control his subject. I was void of understanding what is written in 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. I became his happy meal in that I was made to order, quick to pick up and easy to devour.
Thank God! Today is a new and different story that is being produced by Jesus with me as His subject line. I was at a meeting last night talking with a friend and I told him of something God gave me a long time ago. Before you go to bed tonight review what you did today and how you handled those little situations I allowed. Do you feel that it would be a day worth your family remembering or would the day be quickly forgotten. (Food for thought.) I am proud to say that June 12, 1992, God gave me sobriety but He left me to roam from church to church searching for that which I did not know. I had no clue what I needed but I believed God had something for me, I just didn’t know what it looked like or how it would feel. So, for a little over 5 years I bounced in and out of churches, examining pastors for every flaw and judging the church based on the people in it. I was a mess! But I continued to pray (even though I didn’t know what to pray for) and I continued to search (without knowing why.) Then on September 27, 1997, Pat and I attended a Christian Concert in Lincolnton, NC and The Holy Spirit through a message preached by Michael Combs introduced me face to face with Jesus, who forgave me of my sins. After going backstage and receiving a few instructions and being told to find a good bible believing church I returned to my seat. There was Pat’s nephew (who later became a pastor) and two nieces who were filled with congratulatory comments and all I could think of to say was, “you know what this means”, to which they replied several different things and I interrupted with this statement, now she (Pat) has to marry me or I’ll move out. I had no clue of what I was doing but I knew we could not go on living together and have peace with God. So, on the way home, I gave her 10 days to marry me or I would be gone and she reluctantly agreed to think about it. I made it through the week on a wing and a prayer and decided that it was time to start looking for a place to go. My aunt Lucille Drum called and invited me to visit her church and I accepted her invitation thinking I am not going to like it but I will make one little old woman happy for one day. Once I told Pat she immediately agreed to go with me, with the same thought pattern as mine. On October 4, 1997, God introduced me to the miracle I had been praying for, Pastor Joe Dillard. Honestly, I fell in love with the man the second we shook hands. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me this was my teacher, trust him to walk with you and example what you need to learn. I took this to heart as I had been stumbling and running from ditch to ditch with my understanding of scriptures. Joe literally became my spiritual father; he became family to me and we walked through this life together for nearly 25 years. Joe not only understood how to grow me, but he also understood what I needed and introduced me to those that could help. I have met so many wonderful people over the years, especially his wives Ms. Kathleen Dillard (past with diabetes) and Ms. Linda Dillard, super sweet and understanding ladies. I was never so proud as I was the morning Joe told me I had come into my own. Yet, we continued to hang together even though I had different projects and ministries that I supported as he had his. I enjoy the role of a learner because God showed me years ago wisdom can’t be taken from you and anything you learn will have a place in this life at some point in time, plus you meet so many people during any learning process. I even learned to pull spiritual content from secular programing. Over the last 25 years I have been involved in Promise Keepers, Newton NC soup kitchen, Meals on Wheels of Catawba County, NC, South Mountain Christian Camp, Pregnancy Care Center to name a few.
I also hold seats on the Board of Directors of Christian Community Outreach Ministries and Western North Carolina Overcomers along with a seat on the Brother Night Leadership Team. I don’t tell these to be boastful but to show the glory, grace, and goodness of God. 31 years ago, I had no hope, engaged with a desire to end it all, because I hated (yes hated) me and everything about me. But God, has turned all that around to where today I live in a constant state of awe of how awesome God really is. God has introduced me to wealthy men who have become my friends and Christian brothers, as well I have friends that are brothers who are next to homeless and the whole gambit in-between. There are times when my amazement becomes more than I can contain and the waterworks appear but I assure you they are tears of Joy. I have the great privilege of attending a Tuesday lunch meeting titled Bob Group and it is so uplifting and encouraging. My wife and I are old and falling apart but that hasn’t stopped God from using us. To be truthful I think He is able to use me more because of my complications. I find very little to complain about today because thankfulness has filled my attitude, while anticipation flows through my mind and love surrounds my heart. Oh yes! I still have my moments however they are a mere fraction of what they were and more brief that ever before. I usually hear Joe Dillard asking WHO; are you upset with, WHY; are you upset and WILL; it make a difference tomorrow? Who because the one I have in front of you isn’t usually the culprit, Why: what will actually change when your finished, and Will you feel better looking back at your actions in handling the situation. I got to tell you these self-inspections almost always suck. But God has gifted me with self-improvement through using self-inspection. My wife and I will soon be celebrating 26 years of marriage, thanks to her last-minute decision to marry me and to Joe Dillard for scrambling and rushing to get the paperwork in place. We met Joe on October 5, 1997, and on October 8 asked him to marry us, to which he replied he would pray about it, then on October 12 he said that he would perform the ceremony and ask for a date, to which I replied October 15 which was that Wednesday evening. He agreed so we had bible study, a wedding and a small reception that evening and I was ecstatic. You see, I believed the lies of Satan for 31 years about how I could not quit drinking because it was to hard, how there would be no more fun if I followed Jesus and those holy rollers would never accept me. I am living proof, there is no truth to any of these! I have found and believe that quitting anything is normally as hard as we make it. Our attitude is 80% of the victory and only God can be the attitude adjuster. A wise man told me once, “you simply got to want not to, more than you want to!” I have celebrated 5 years of sobriety and 26 years of recovery. The difference is sobriety in this sense is simply the absence alcohol, what you have is a very miserable sober drunk, the body is functioning without alcohol but the mind is still filled with the stinking thinking of a drunk. Recover consist of a heart and head change determined to live and operate in a normal state of sobriety. The first notable sign is a greatly improved attitude along with a humble spirit to learn. This is where recovery starts. Today I am a happy camper, God has replaced everything Satan stole just as He said He would. John 10:10 (NLT), The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. I have a beautiful family (complete with grandchildren and great grandchildren), home, cars, money (not rich but enough), peace, security, and tons of love. This story is grossly abbreviated but I pray you get the idea. I am enjoying life as God means for me to and that makes us happy.
Story written and lived by Paul Loftin