“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.” – Lonnie Smith
Destructive choices, addiction, cancer and desperation. Meet three people who know what it’s like to face doubt, fear and the possibility of death. But what Lonnie Smith, Chuck Anderson and Shelly Lindhal can tell you is that the Lord is the God of impossible situations. God demonstrated His power when each of them was out of hope and transformed them during their darkest chapters.
“I was locked in a motel room with enough drugs to blow up my heart. In unimaginable pain and bondage, my life was void of all hope. As significant losses like divorce and alienation from my daughters mounted in my life, I became completely broken and just wanted to die. “Through divine intervention my family located me, and the 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. I stood there with 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.
“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. Trusting Christ was truly a decision for life over death. The very heart that I’d tried to destroy was awakened to the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“My Savior has now given me 18 drug-free years. By God’s grace, I’m often 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.”
“In January of 1988 I went in for a routine physical. I was too young and healthy to need a body scan, but I felt compelled to get one though doctor didn’t expect to find anything. The next thing I knew, the doctor sits down and says that he sees a spot on my kidney. It was cancer.
“I spent the next week going through different tests to see if it had spread and talking about surgery. I thought I was going to die. I had a wife and two little girls. What happens to them? And of course I asked, ‘Lord, what happens to me?’
“Around that time, some friends invited me to a men’s Bible study. They’d asked me before, but I was always too busy. But faith became important to me when I found out I had cancer. That Bible study was the first time I truly heard the gospel. At 37 years old, I was a new believer.
“I had a surgery to remove my right kidney and adrenal gland, and my cancer was cured surgically. I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, but that’s what it took to open my eyes to Christ. “I was once the guy who always strived to get to the world’s mountaintop. When I did, I discovered there was always a bigger one ahead. I wasn’t satisfied until I knew what Christ did for me. God gave me the desire to tell everyone who knows me what I believe and why. It’s on me if they don’t know.”
“While I was serving in the military, my stepmother murdered my father. My life started to spin out of control with destructive decisions: promiscuity, partying, an eating disorder, two abortions and a couple of marriages. A trail of ruin lay behind me, as I used people in a search for fulfillment.
“I was alone again after the second divorce and another failed relationship. I felt empty and broken. God had been calling me back to Himself for a long time. I just hadn’t stopped long enough to hear Him. Listening to the whisper of the Holy Spirit, I turned to God and found comfort there.
“God led me to a Bible-based church, but my thinking was backward. I mistakenly thought I needed to clean up to be acceptable to the Lord and others. I pretended my life was perfect and tried to earn God’s love and protection. I eventually became too exhausted to keep up the façade and walked away from the church we attended. The shame was too overwhelming.
“Later, a friend invited me to check out Watermark. I came here with no intention of opening up about my life. But God was so good to me. He drew me to re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. There I discovered a safe place to share what was going on in my life. I never knew how merciful God was until I shared my story in a group of women, and they were not revolted by me. That was my first glimpse at the fact that even though I had a very messy life, God loved me.
“Today I have found freedom in knowing God as my protector, defender and Heavenly Father…the daddy I never had. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, I’ve been washed clean by His blood. I don’t have to strive or perform to be acceptable to the Lord. He is pleased with me as I am.”