This is the story of the greatest miracle ever. Why is it the greatest miracle ever? Because it is the story of how God broke into my pitiful excuse for a life. It seems like a lifetime ago: fifteen years to the day. I was working at a major record company. Hopelessly locked into a lifestyle of self-abuse, I had a huge Appetite for Destruction, appropriately enough the title of the huge-selling Guns ‘n’ Roses album we sold at the time. A massive addiction to working and playing hard. Weeks without sleep. What teenager living in Sydney in the early 1980s wouldn’t love it? It was a dream come true for a self-confessed sex, drugs and rock and roller. Rubbing shoulders with some of my heroes! Cold Chisel, ZZ Top, Eric and Richard Clapton, INXS, Kylie…
My boss at the time was my best mate and worst enemy. We were two hopeless basket cases, whose behaviour was always unpredictable. It swung between soppy romantics to super-violence. Yet don’t try and tell us we were addicted or drunks. You’d do the same if you’d been through what we had.
We were all surprised when my boss was seriously injured. No one knew what had happened to him. Then three months later, he emerged out of nowhere, looking fitter and healthier that he deserved. He looked incredibly well. Very intimidating. He wasn’t there for half an hour before I got a call to come up to his office. He was very blunt: I was an alcoholic but I wouldn’t have to die one. What? How dare he!
He explained to me that God could help me overcome my addiction. God? I hadn’t given any time to thinking about God for many years. I’d been thrown out of Sunday School and Scripture years before. I can still feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I thanked him and walked away, pride shattered.
I was determined to prove to my boss and everybody else how wrong they were. I decided to party harder. I lasted one night. Sitting on my couch alone, very stoned, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was going to die. The thought of dying had never really bothered me. The way I lived, you’d think I was trying to, anyway. But I was petrified. For the first time I didn’t want to. But I couldn’t shake this feeling. I knew that tonight I would die. I had nowhere to turn. It was hopeless.
Then out of the blue, a strong, authoritative voice came into my head: Dial this number! I remember shaking as I dialed the numbers. The phone hadn’t worked for weeks. It was supposed to be broken. But the voice on the other end of the phone was loud and clear: “Welcome to Dial-A-Prayer”. As I listened, these words calmed me down. I clung to the phone, feeling safe. Over and over, the message repeated. When I put the phone down, all I felt was shame. I was a criminal, a con artist, a drunk. I was a hopeless case. Still that authoritative voice guided me: Go have a shower, go to bed…
The next morning, I woke up. I couldn’t believe that I had the gift of another day. There was no doubt anymore. God was real and had broken through into my world in a huge way. Six months later, 14 and a half years ago, I kicked my habit. However, this story has its conclusion 10 years after God first revealed Himself to me. It was the first day of full-time study at Morling Bible College. I had just moved back to Sydney after living for years in the country. As I stood in the College car park, I looked across the road. I remembered this place. I used to live near here. I looked across the road, and there it was: the unit where God had visited me 10 years before. I was well and truly on the other side of the fence now!
It would take a few years for me to realize that such a special visit from God was not the norm. Very few people can unequivocally state that God has spoken to them. Yet this unique visit by God drives me in my ministry life.