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A Drug Dealer's Journey Back to God
A guest post by Robby Eversole Jr.
The book of Esther is one of five books that are disputed as canonical. By “canonical”, I mean literature that is recognized as the inspired word of God, “belonging in series”. The academic term is “antilegomena”. It is disputed as canonical because God’s name is not mentioned. We understand the providential nature of Gods work in the book relative to Haman, Morticia, Esther and the King Ahasuerus (Xerxes- Dan.11:2). God saw a problem or an issue down the road and anticipated/and overruled the situation through His providential power. That is what I submit to you as the backdrop or context of “my story”. “My story” is much more about God and His church than it is me.
I want to state that right up front, but there’s only one way that I know to introduce myself to you…Allow me to write candidly. The words I use while speaking of myself are as in a character in a story- a true story- that is really about the incredible power of God and an unmatched institution- His church.
I grew up much like a good portion of readers. I was raised in the church of the Lord. I was brought up in nurture and admonition of the Lord. My parents laid a great foundation from which to build a life. I participated in “Lads to Leaders” giving speeches and leading songs. Took part of the puppet program which all of this took hours of devotion throughout the year. I excelled in sports: football, wrestling, threw shotput, discus and Javelin. I was voted the most talented out of my senior class. But because of choices I wound up a drug addicted criminal- a felon. I ended up trashing my future, burning bridges, and needing to seek professional help to learn how to live life separate from the drugs that had me bound for so long.
You see, I thought for a long time that I would be different. I thought for so long that I could party on the weekends, smoke pot, drink booze, fornicate and I wouldn’t face the same consequences that others faced. It was really the pinnacle of pride for me to think that I was so much different, smarter, stronger, equipped to handle living a double life. As I grew older, I quit living a double life- and left the church. I left my family to large measure. I set out to conquer the world on my own and enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. That season turned into a large portion of my life.
You see, there came a time when the devil was done letting me run with the bait. For a while I was in control, for a while I was dictating when I would party and do the drugs and how much I would consume, until I was the one being consumed. I was in control until I wasn’t anymore. It really happened just like that! The moments of fun became mandatory routines to stay happy. Mandatory to stay high. This meant I had to continually stay away from those who loved me and involve myself deeper and deeper into criminal activity. I began to sell drugs, run protection for my suppliers and collect delinquent funds. This put me in a very high-risk lifestyle- which was really a death style.
I want you to understand that I wasn’t raised to do these things. I knew they were wrong, but I allowed myself to continue to a point that I wasn’t affected anymore by it. The Bible calls that “having your conscious seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2).
My mother had begged me with tears to get help. She plead with me to go to rehab, she would rather pay for treatment than pay for my funeral. It was going to be one or the other. She eventually told me to get out of her life- she said, “I don’t know who you are”. We didn’t speak again. I treated her terribly. My sister begged me to straighten up. I had been in and out of jail, arrested on stupid petty stuff, but those add up when it happens 12-15 times. She said, “God is whispering to you to stop what you’re doing, don’t make Him scream”. My dad was steadily praying that God would do something to bring me to my knees and make me look up to Him again.
March 21, 2016, I went to a man’s house who I owed a visit. I had to settle a debt. I was known for that. I had planned to knock him out and cut two of his fingers off, one on each hand with a short pair of bolt cutters. I had a ball bat and bolt cutters. I kicked His door in and gunfire pierced the night air.
Up to this point I had been sick of life. I had tried on my own to get away from the drugs and the life but the talons were dug too deeply into me. I was suffering from depression, psychosis, and facing two large drug charges with firearms, facing 30+ years in prison at this point. Tired of life and seeing no way out I wanted so badly to die. I wanted the cycle to end. I had cried and cried with a pistol in my mouth- gutless to fix my life and gutless to end it. I wanted to die so bad, until I was confronted with death.
I knew at that moment when I was hit that if I died, I was eternally lost. That which my dad prayed for had come to fruition. I looked up to heaven and in my mind- without audible words begged God, “Not like this- not now”. Please… I ran off the porch and fell into the road. Garnered enough strength to make it to my truck and some people that were with me drove me and my vehicle an 1/8 of a mile to a rescue fire station up the road, in the Waterville community on Dalton Pike in Cleveland, Tennessee.
I was dying. I remember much of the details as I went in and out of consciousness until it went completely black and silent. I woke up three days later on a ventilator in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the Trauma ICU at Erlanger.
My family was notified the next day that I was there and I probably wouldn’t make it. The surgeons worked on me for 14.5 hours just to stop the bleeding and repair the aorta in my abdomen that was blown completely in two by a bullet. They would later need to do a bowel resection to reattach my intestines where a bullet had severed them completely in two places. My family was told if I lived through the night, I would be there for months- multiple surgeries. The surgeon said my wounds were horrific.
They didn’t have a medical explanation for why I lived to make it to the hospital in the first place. A severed aorta and multiple gunshot victim is an “open and shut” case. Clean them up and send them to the morgue. That should have been my end from a medical standpoint. You just don’t live from Cleveland to Chattanooga with a severed aorta and no blood in your system- body dying in shock.
I know why I lived- God allowed me to live. God, just like in the account of Esther, God overrode through His providence the problem. He brought me to my knees just like dad had prayed, and made me look up again- mentally, emotionally, and now physically broken. My life shattered and years of prison hanging over my head. That’s what drugs did to me, but that’s what God used to bring me back. Only God can do that.
I will never forget dad asking me a question that would change my life forever. I had been put in a regular room and woke up from a period of rest, and he said, “I want an answer to this question- not right away- but soon. I need to know. You need help, son, and I want to help you. But if you don’t want the help, I don’t want to waste my time”. It was an honest plea, and an honest question. I took the help. He made one phone call and a preacher friend of his, Jake Sutton, had him the information he needed to get in touch with a rehab program operated by the church of Christ and funded solely by the church. It is “Project Rescue”. Ronnie Crocker is the program director, and Jason Cagle, the program manager. They decided to give me a chance and I was accepted. April 12, 2016, I was taken to rehab and began a journey to recovery. I was in the program for 18 months. Intense, inpatient rehabilitation. I still had court dates going from the two big cases I had, then added a third from the home invasion when I got shot. Now, I am facing 62 years or so.
I left rehab on October 12, 2017 and ended up pleading guilty to the remaining charges in May of 2018. I say remaining because the state dropped the home invasion charges all together because the man that shot me would not press charges, so they took him to jail. They lessoned all the charges until I was finally facing 16-24 years. The judge sentenced me to Tennessee Department of Corrections for 20 years. But relegated my sentence to “community corrections”. So, I am getting day for day credit on that 20-year sentence right now- and while I am serving that sentence, I get to also serve God and His people out here- in society. It really is remarkable.
I want to pause right here and make some applications, that can be learned from my life. My life that is only explained by our God being bigger than any bullet, any court system, and there is nothing that He cannot do (Jeremiah 32:17).
(1) You reap what you sow (Gal.6:7-8)
Choices have consequences. Charles Box once said “Chose the behavior- you choose the consequence”. He is exactly right. I repented of my sins, I am very sorry for the life I lived and the crimes I committed. God has forgiven me of those things- and the church has too, but I still owe a great debt to society and God doesn’t remove that punishment. He removes the eternal guilt, but I pay the price of my past behavior. How ignorant and prideful it was of me to think that I could mock God, and sow to the wind and not reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). And if you choose to sow your wild oats, if you choose to do like I did and leave your family, your God and His church and go out- this world will chew you up and spit you out just like it did me. This world took the perfect Son of God and murdered Him, what do you think it is willing to do to you?
(2) Life is fragile (James 4:14; Psalm 103:14; Gal.6:1)
We often forget how fragile the human frame is. How delicate our brains are and subject to major repercussions due to chemicals and abuse. God knows our frame (Psa.103:14)- we would do well to remember it too, and protect our bodies and minds from undue demise. We should remember that we can be overtaken in a fault- brought under the power of- entangled in sin- what a mess! Life is fragile.
(3) The way of the transgressor is hard (Proverbs 13:15)
I don’t have the time to reveal to you all the hardship my choices placed on me and my family. The financial burden of rehab, court battle for two years, attorney fees, court fines, community service, house arrest, under supervision until 2038. The way of the transgressor is hard. It is not a happy life!
(4) The Church is the best this world has to offer! (Gal.6:1-10; Eph.3:20-21)
Only the church will love you enough to lead you back to safety. Only the Church is concerned with bearing others burdens. Only the Church is about doing good unto all men.
The Church is the most powerful institution to ever exist. Never take the church for granted or count her out!
(5) Our lives affect our families- not just ourselves! (Proverbs 10:1)
“A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother”
I want to share with you a post my father had written while he waited in the hospital with me…
“Sitting here in the Trauma ICU with my son as he sleeps wondering how things went so wrong in his life. A boy that grew up in the Lord's church. Participated in Lads to Leaders for years. He was an excellent speaker and song leader. And now all of this. Satan is powerful and sin is fun. If not so, then, so many would not serve both. It is easy to lose focus on our primary purpose to be good stewards of our souls. I don't know what lies ahead for him. Hopefully he can learn from this and make the rest of his life count for something. My heart breaks for lost possibilities for him. Choices are such a part of our lives. What we go after here will determine where we go hereafter. He has made his share of bad choices. I have too! As of right now he is still alive and that is all that matters to me. No matter what he has done I still love him as deeply as I ever have. Love does not mean that I agree with his choices, but neither does his sin mean I must cease to love him. He will always be my son and have his special place in my heart. I'm sure that many will offer judgment and pass by on the other side.
As for me, I plan to never give up on trying to save his soul. I baptized him when he was a young man. He cannot talk right now but he gave me a thumbs up on asking God for forgiveness before we prayed last night. For now, I will hold to that. As I sit here listening to the gurgling sounds of the equipment and watch his chest rise and fall from the machine that is breathing for him, my heart is so heavy of what could have been. If your children are still at home and under your care discipline them. Instruct them in the ways of the Lord. Teach them about choices and consequences. Pray for and love them always. We only get one chance at rearing them. Emphasize the spiritual over the temporal. Fight the devil at every turn. My prayer is for God's will to be done. Whatever God deems necessary for the saving of his soul, that is my earnest prayer. Heaven hears and heaven cares, in this I find comfort.”
I can hear the pain in my father’s voice as he typed that out- earnestly praying to God that if it meant I died then- as long as I went to heaven that is all that mattered. If he never got to see me until eternity- he didn’t want his son to die lost. That’s the pain I put my family through.
I can hear the screams of my sister- as she came back from the restroom as they await news while I am in surgery, and she came back and my dad was sobbing and she screams “NO! NO! Tell me he didn’t” and dad saying no- I just had to cry- and her thinking she would never see me again. The absolute torture I put my family through.
I can only imagine the grief of my mother wondering if she would ever be able to say something different to me than the last words spoken, “GET OUT OF MY LIFE”. Can you imagine the heartache? That’s what drugs did to me and my family- that’s exactly what they’ll do to you, too!
(6) Right now, is the best time to commit to God (Ecc.12:1, 13-14)
The wisest man to ever live said, “Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come and the years draw nigh, when you will say, I have no pleasure in them.”
Solomon, also penned, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
The best decision you could ever make is to give your life to Jesus, and live it for Him the rest of your days. You CAN do that. If you will believe in Him (John 3:16), and let your faith motivate you to repent of your past sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess His blessed name (Romans 10:9-10) and be joined with Christ in baptism for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38) … You can be a child of the King, an heir of the promises (Galatians 3:26-29), and victorious over anything this world throws at you (1 John 5:4). You’ll never regret doing the right thing.
May God bless you richly, and if I can ever be of assistance, please, allow me the honor of helping.
Robby Eversole, JR.
Robby Eversole preaches for the Eastside Church of Christ in Morganton, Georgia. Robby graduated in 2021 from the Tri-Cities School of Preaching and Christian Development. He does an excellent job writing a weekly blog post on the church’s website, which you can read here.
Some of his sermons are posted on the Eastside Church of Christ’s YouTube channel - I invite you to hear some of his preaching of God’s Word.