“On December 4, 1996, I checked into a motel room with enough crystal meth, cocaine and anabolic steroids to kill myself. And that’s exactly what I tried to do.” – Lonnie Smith
“Trapped in a life that I created through years of bad choices, I felt like a prisoner in my own cage,” said Lonnie Smith. “As a young man in the early ‘80’s hoping to make a name for myself on the professional tennis tour, I was introduced to cocaine and crystal meth. In the late ’80’s, I was fully immersed in the bodybuilding culture where I also became addicted to anabolic steroids. By the mid-’90’s, I was a slave to these drugs as they evolved into idols in my life.
“Seventeen years ago, I was in a motel room with enough drugs to blow up my heart. I was in unimaginable pain and bondage and void of all hope. And one thing was certain – as significant losses like divorce from my wife and alienation from my daughters began mounting in my life, I never thought or could have imagined that I would be ‘that’ guy. Alone, desperate and completely broken, I just wanted to die.
“Through divine intervention, my grandmother was able to find me and Mesquite police knocked on my motel room door. Drugs were flushed down the toilet with ‘no questions asked,’ and I was taken to a rehab center near Kerrville, Texas. I was standing there with just a suitcase in my hand, realizing that’s all I had left in the world – other than 15 years of battling an unbreakable addiction to drugs.
“Though I was far from the Lord and had no particular interest in celebrating the birth of Jesus, on the second Sunday of my rehab, I found myself sitting in the audience of a Kerrville, Texas Christmas program. I heard a song called ‘Mary Did You Know’, and there was a lyric that grabbed my heart: ‘This child that you delivered will soon deliver you.’
“I had always considered Christ to be more like a prison warden and certainly not a deliverer or a rescuer. I was convinced that after 35 years of destructive behavior, deceiving, using and hurting a lot of people, that my bridges were burned. Surely God could never love me enough to accept and forgive me, much less rescue me.
“The sermon that night was on John 3:16 – the only Bible verse I knew. The preacher explained that the love of God expressed in Christ was unconditional. But how could God possibly love a horrible sinner like me? Though it was true, I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have to prove myself worthy to God in order to deserve His love. Before leaving that night, I felt a desperate longing to be set free.
“Desperation is a breeding ground for faith. My life was a pile of fragmented pieces, and if it was ever going to be put back together, only God could do it. So 17 years ago, trusting Christ wasn’t a decision I was making to be trendy or to impress anyone. It was a decision for life over death, for Heaven over Hell. I wanted to live. I finally realized that there was more life in Jesus than there was death in drugs. The very heart that I’d tried to destroy was awakened to the reality that the real gift in life is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“So, bowing before the Lord on Serenity Hill on the hospital campus, I surrendered my life to Jesus while fully trusting His words: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ (John 14:6).
“I returned home in January of 1997 as a new creation. The first verse in the Bible that I memorized was 2 Corinthians 5:17, ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, all things have become new.’ Because of trusting Jesus in 1996, my life has radically changed because God has radically changed me!
“My Savior has now given me 17 drug-free years. For more than 14 of those years, I’ve had the privilege of serving in full-time ministry, including this past year on staff at Watermark as Director of Single Adults in Dallas. I have a wonderful wife, Anita, who loves Jesus and serves alongside me. Today, I’m also a dad who gets to enjoy special relationships with two adult daughters and one 17 year-old step-daughter.
“By God’s grace, when I get to celebrate yet another year of staying drug free, I’m always reminded that no one is too messed up for God to rescue. God is working perfectly even when it doesn’t seem that way. He is still the Lord of impossible situations.”