7 years ago today I pulled up to a house surrounded by cops. My brothers mom stood outside screaming, “my only son!” June 11th, 2010 my only brother (and only blood sibling) died on his 26th birthday from a heroin overdose. I opened the door to walk into the bedroom where I saw his stone cold body lying flat on a bed. The curtains were drawn shut and the sun shone through the fabric dimly lighting the room. It smelled like heroin and the room was heavy and dark. I could hardly register what my eyes were seeing. In shock, I slowly scanned the room. My eyes caught at the sight of the evidence- a spoon, lighter, syringe and heroin all lined up on top of the dresser. I was looking back and forth from his body to the evidence when my hands began to clench at my sides. I stood there experiencing waves of anger unlike anything I’ve felt before in my life. My mind began to swirl and my heart was pounding when all of a sudden God cut through the heaviness and stepped into the room. He said, “who are you going to be angry with?”
I looked back at the drugs and there was an immediate shift in my mind’s ability to register information; it was as though it was completely rewired without a thought. My eyes ability to distinguish depth and lighting also changed in just a moment. It was like a veil lifted and I was looking around the room experiencing that moment as it actually was not as I was perceiving it. Then He spoke again, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Truth began to sink in as I experienced His words as they left His mouth. He then spoke again, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Abundantly is what were all looking for and in that moment laid bare before my eyes was the evidence of that.
Later that day I sat on the couch in my bedroom- a spot that became familiar for a week straight. I laid crying, asking questions, vulnerable and honest before God. My brother was one of the first people to oppose the work of God in my life and I couldn’t shake the obstacle of his whereabouts in the back of my mind. I boldly looked at God and said, “I won’t compromise truth to ease the pain, but you need to help me get through this, unadulterated and without embracing deceit to cope with my pain.” He was faithful to keep his promise. He gave me peace and healed my heart quite quickly considering the experience.
When the day came for my brothers memorial service we gathered in a large beautiful backyard garden at our neighbors house. A pastor stood up to give the eulogy, “The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away; blessed be the name of the LORD”. My jaw dropped in complete shock. Our friends and family gathered to honor my brother’s life, no one knew Jesus and here stood someone declaring God took my brothers life. My heart grew angry as I sat listening to lies about my brothers death, saying God was the one to blame. Countless times had I heard sermons include Bible verses out of context, and as a young Christian they easily slashed my heart. His nature and character are the first to be misunderstood but I would never let that happen again.
I’m thankful Jesus spoke to me before I heard the sermon or I may have ended up on a journey of confusion and bitterness toward God, without reason. His words aren’t always a quick fix, but they are always healing. Abiding in Jesus is the only solution if we ever expect to make sense of anything. Nothing is more toxic than believing lies but thankfully in God there is no deceit.
God is not in control, meaning not everything that happens is His will. It’s not to say He is not all-powerful, because He is. But from the beginning He has empowered us to choose, not force and control us. It’s when we partner with Him that we see the world transformed to look like heaven. We have been commissioned by God to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons (Matthew 10:8). Christians have the responsibility to uphold the ministry of reconciliation, reconciling the world back to God (2 Corinthians 5:18). That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). He would never tell us to pray this if His will was already done on Earth. We are safe in Him and the weight isn’t all on us to make the Earth a perfect place, but we have the joy and honor of partnering with Him by bringing heaven wherever we go. He desires that no one would perish- but love is always a choice, He is always a choice, and He will never make us choose Him even though He deserves love.
I’ll never forget one night I had a dream that a demon was in my washing machine. I knew in my dream Jesus was in the living room so I called out to him and said “Jesus! There’s a demon in here, will you come get it?” He said called back and said, “you get it!” Just like in this dream, Jesus has given us the power and authority to overcome the works of darkness, suffering, addiction, sickness, and disease. Jesus already died and paid the price so we don’t have to live under the influence of these things. He destroyed the works of the Devil and put the authority inside of us to do the same.
It will always be our choice to follow and partner with him. Thankfully, our lack of obedience also doesn’t deter God’s persistence and longing for us. He is good and faithful when we are not, and his yearning for us isn’t contingent on our works. I don’t know why 7 years have passed and I just now decided to write the story this year, but I really hope this blesses one of you and you would know He is always good. No matter your choices- or the choices of those around you, His heart for you will never change.