Transformed from darkness to light — God’s way.
by Steve Taylor as told to Nancy Dearborn
It was fall 2017 in sunny California. The weather was a stark contrast to my mood.
On the outside, I had the face of a clown, but inside I was crying crocodile tears. At fifty-three years old, I felt like the biggest loser ever, staying at my mom’s place. Because she had no basement, I stuffed all of my belongings into her already crowded den.
At rock bottom, I was as low as I had ever been in my life. I hate depending on Mom for financial support, I mused.
Due to my employer’s downsizing, I had been without steady employment for over a year. When I ran out of unemployment funds, I could no longer pay my rent.
Around the same time, the doctors performed heart valve surgery on my ninety-two-year-old mother. In order for her to go home from the hospital, she needed someone to stay with her for a couple of months until she fully recovered.
My sister, AnnMarie, volunteered me, since I desperately needed a place to stay.
I moved from San Diego, where I had lived for over thirty years, to Laguna Woods to stay with my mother. I slept most of the day and watched TV most of the night. I minimally helped out by cleaning up around Mom’s place and doing errands.
I knew I was depressed. Really depressed. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my truck died. Now I didn’t have a way to look for work.
I felt like screaming and pounding my fists on the wall. What have I done to deserve this?
I hadn’t been this angry since I was seven years old and my dad died. Back then, the doctors told us he had an untreatable, progressive form of cancer. Three months later, he was gone.
I lashed out at everyone and beat up other kids. My mom continually received calls from the principal about my bad behavior.
After Dad died, Mom didn’t get out of bed for at least three months. She didn’t change out of her nightgown and rarely showered. I had been raised in a church (mostly out of routine, not from my parents’ beliefs), but now Mom stopped taking me.
During this time, mom contracted pneumonia twice and almost died. The thought of having to face the loss of two parents was more than I could bear.
In the years following my dad’s death, Mom couldn’t care for herself, let alone a seven-year-old boy. I found myself left to my own devices.
Between sixth and seventh grade, some of my friends’ older brothers offered me weed. I tried it, liked the feeling, and was hooked.
By the end of the summer, I was smoking weed every day. I felt relaxed and carefree. The pain of losing my dad went away — at least temporarily.
Because I suffered from grass allergies and always had red eyes, no one — not even my mother — suspected I was high every day. To support my habit, I rolled and sold joints in high school. To my shame, I traded some girls’ weed for sex when they didn’t have money to purchase it.
Crying out to God
After Mom’s heart procedure, one of her regular caregivers offered me a job painting part of her house, but it resulted in an endless stream of nightmares. I painted an entire room, and the next day realized none of the paint had stuck to the walls. I peeled off the entire first coat and started all over.
That afternoon I lay on the floor and cried out to God for the first time in my life. “God, come on! I need You to help me out. I can’t get through this on my own.”
I thought about where I was in life. I didn’t know how to begin digging myself out of the hole I was in.
In December, AnnMarie drafted me to be on the set-up crew for her annual holiday party for seniors at church, so I spent an entire Saturday helping her decorate their clubhouse.
That night AnnMarie set nametags at each table, making sure every attendee had a special spot. She placed me at a table with three other single adults: Sherry, Betty, and Annie. I knew Sherry; she was one of my mom’s caregivers. I had met Betty at the last event, but I had never met Annie.
When I first laid eyes on Annie, her entire countenance was radiant. During the course of dinner, I learned that her life had been fraught with miracles, and at times she had received special comfort from God. Her faith wasn’t a small part or even a large part of her life; it was her life.
“I have no doubt in my mind that God exists,” Annie told me. “Even though I have gone through some really bad things in my life, He has been there every step of the way, and I am a stronger woman because of His faithfulness to me. God is truly my best friend.”
I knew I wanted a bright light to shine in my life and make me radiant. The very next week, I determined to go to church, even though I hadn’t attended a service since childhood.
God worked in my heart during the worship and sermon, as if the pastor’s words were directed specifically at me. When the altar call came, I sat there weeping silently and praying to God, “I know I am a sinner. I know I turned my back on You all those years ago when I was just a little boy. Please forgive me. From now on, I want Jesus to be Lord of my life.”
More peace than I ever thought possible flooded my soul. I knew in that moment that whatever happened in my life, I was done with drugs. I didn’t need to depend on them any longer.
I now had the Lord in my heart, and that would make all the difference in the world.
I couldn’t change my past and get back all the years I had wasted, but with God’s help, I could change my future.
Within a few months, God totally turned my life around. I now have full-time employment and my own place. My boss bought a truck for me, and I make payments every month to him. I no longer feel like a loser.
But those aren’t the real miracles.
Even more miraculous is that God totally transformed my heart and life, and I am walking in the light of His Word every day. I volunteer at the church Thursdays and Saturdays and am involved in a men’s breakfast on Saturdays.
In my free time I listen to Christian pastors on TV, attend church every week, and read my Bible regularly, searching out its mysteries.
The Bible verses I lean on most, and that give me the most comfort, are I Peter 5:7 and Philippians 4:6-8. It’s awesome to cast all my cares and worries on the Lord and feel His peace that passes understanding.
Telling Our Story
Everywhere I go, I tell people about Jesus and about my story, how God can take a broken man and heal him and use him for God’s purposes and glory.
Besides giving us Jesus, perhaps there is no greater gift in life than to be used by God. My prayer every day is for God to use me as He sees fit.