Future is ‘going to be awesome’ says former heroin addict
Severely addicted to heroin, James Gebele felt the grip of handcuffs for the first time at age 34 after a marriage collapse took away his self-control.
After his sons entered high school, James' marriage had become strained, leading to his wife having an affair.
James admits her infidelity "drove me crazy".
An occasional pot smoker and drinker, he became dependent on these drugs, which only accelerated the breakup of the marriage.
After the marriage ended, James remembers, "I started taking pain pills from a girl I was dating, which led to more powerful pills and eventually heroin."
His heroin addiction became extremely serious.
"I was arrested too many times to count and visited four different jails," he explains.
The worst part, he says, was that he was a corrections officer for almost 14 years for the state of Ohio.
"I should have known better. As the saying goes, 'Drugs don't discriminate'."
James was sentenced to a rehabilitation centre, and realized he needed to turn to the God he had heard about in church.
Before the marriage breakup, he had coached his sons' baseball and football teams and attended church every Sunday.
"About a week before I was locked up, I got down on my knees and asked God to please change my life and get me off drugs. He obliged!"
James firmly believes, "God put me here to learn lessons that I was too hard-hearted to learn over the past ten years. Now I have lost everything I love, and my family won't speak to me."
Despite feeling terribly alone, James says, "God has stood by me."
James' confidence is founded in the promises of God's Word, the Bible. In Hebrews chapter 12, the Bible says that God "disciplines those He loves and chastises everyone He accepts as His child."
The passage concludes with the encouragement, "we respected our human fathers for disciplining us, [so]... how much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!"
James adds, "I now realize that God gives us free will to choose the wrong path.
"I thank God for the recent blessing I had when I was struggling with some personal issues and I heard an invitation to a church service over the centre's intercom.
"Something told me I needed to go, and I met Steve Knell there. We sang praises to God, and then talked about the apostle Peter."
The Bible records that Peter, though he was one of Jesus' disciples, denied knowing Him three times at his public trial. However, after His resurrection Jesus forgave Peter and directed him three times to care for His church.
"When I went back to my room that night," James remembers, "I felt relieved and knew in my heart that God is in control.
"Whatever He has planned for me, I know it's going to be awesome." •