It all started the day I got a killer headache.
“Here. Take two of these,” my mom said as she handed me a small bottle of pills. It read, Vicodin. As a nurse, I was no stranger to medication. But when I took them, all the bells and whistles went off. “What is this?” I said to myself. I never felt so good.
I had been a Christian for a couple of years, and while I didn’t party like I used to, I still drank too much. I figured I could take the Vicodin to stop the drinking.
Of course, getting the Vicodin was going to be easy. I stole a bottle of Vicodin from the hospital where I worked and went to the men’s room. With a splash from the faucet, woosh—I was 35,000 feet in a matter of seconds. This thing was on.
In a short amount of time, my little Vicodin exploration turned into a punishing addiction. I was taking 40 Vicodin a day. My eyes were turning dark. I got fired from two jobs. I got a DUI. I woke up handcuffed to a gurney. And I was dragging my wife, Alicia, through hell.
In rehab, I told my fellow addicts about the healing power of Jesus until one day, a counselor said, “Mind if I get real with you?”
“No,” I replied. “Go ahead.”
“You’re Jesus is a front,” he said.
I was taken aback.
“I’m not saying He isn’t real,” he continued. “I’m just saying for you, He’s a front.”
I was deeply offended. But he was absolutely right. I wasn’t there to let God have His way with me. I was using God to win back my wife.
Back on the job, I was still using heavily. I was sitting at the bedside of a patient, when his friend John, who was a Christian, showed up to visit. The three of us had a great time chatting about God and guitars. We exchanged numbers and told each other we would stay in touch.
Days later, I got a message. “This is John. We need to talk. I think you’re in trouble.”
I thought, The nerve of this guy. I didn’t call him back. But his calls kept coming.
One afternoon I went to visit my mom. “Mike,” she said, “some guy named John called here looking for you. He said you’re in trouble.”
I was furious.
A few days later, I didn’t show up for work when they really needed me…and I was fired—again.
“That’s it,” Alicia said. “I know you’re using. You choose your drugs over your family. I’ve been there for you every step, but I can’t do it anymore.” She packed up our daughters and left.
I was devastated. We had a $1,500 rent payment due in three weeks and didn’t have a penny. My longsuffering wife was gone. My beautiful little girls were whisked away from their awful dad. I was alone with my drugs—little white liars that had sold me into a life of slavery. I gathered them up and threw them all away. Then, for some reason, I picked up the phone and called John.
“This is Mike Clark,” I said through tears.
“Brother, I’ve been waiting for you.”
I said, “I think I’m in trouble.”
“I know you are.” John invited me to his work-site to receive prayer. I was already withdrawing when I arrived. He greeted me, prayed, and handed me a check for $1,500. He had no way to know that was the exact amount I needed.
“Look, I’m holding a Bible study tonight,” he said. “Can you come?”
“I’m in no condition,” I said, twitching violently.
“Just come,” he urged me, “and bring your guitar.”
Later that evening, I dragged my twisted body to the car and drove, crying the whole way. I arrived holding my guitar and looking like Gollum. “You’re here!” John exclaimed. “Everybody,” he said to the room of 10 people, “this is who we’ve been waiting for!” I looked around as if to say, Me?
“Mike’s going to lead us in worship!” John said. “But first we’re going to pray for Mike. He’s withdrawing right now so let’s all gather around.”
They gathered around and laid hands on my wet, flinching body. Then they prayed like I had never heard before—dire, desperate prayers, tongues, words of knowledge. My body wrenched and jerked and convulsed. I knew something powerful was going on around me. I surrendered to how God was moving. I just simply gave in—what else did I have?
And then, all of a sudden, my body simply stopped. Like a photograph, I was perfectly still.
Everybody looked up to see me examining my steady, upright body. Someone handed me my guitar. “Let’s praise God!” they said. I took the guitar and strummed through the only chords I knew, and we sang, making up the lyrics and melody as we went along. I had never felt so happy or close to God before. “This is my God! This is my God!” I cried out. We worshipped for two hours.
I was playing every week for John’s Bible study when my sister-in-law, who worked at Rock Church, asked me to come and lead on a Wednesday morning. I jumped at the chance.
Arriving at the Rock with my guitar, she led me to a door. “Are you ready?” she said.
“Sure,” I replied.
She opened the door, and I entered into a large room of about 100 people. “What’s this?” I said, freaking out.
“I knew if I told you, you wouldn’t come,” she replied. “Just do what you do, Mike. It’ll be okay.”
I nervously stood at the mic and strummed. Everybody stood and sang, and the Spirit moved mightily. I was on Cloud 9. Two months later, the Rock worship leader called.
“I’d like you to put a band together and lead all five services at the Rock in two weeks,” she said. “Can you do it?”
She could’ve asked me to build a rocket; it was all the same to me. But I knew the request was so bazaar it just had be God.
Through somebody who knew somebody, a band was formed, and we took the stage two weeks later to lead worship in front of 4,000 people. I could barely contain myself. I was like an exhaust pipe, and God was firing His Spirit through me. It was the most excited I had ever been.
Suddenly I started getting calls to lead worship at different churches for different events around town. I was only too happy to do it and refused all payment. This was a God thing. It wasn’t my talent or ability or leadership qualities. This was God’s miracle on display. He not only saved me, He used me. I am so grateful.
POSTSCRIPT: Mike now leads worship at Venture Church in Encinitas.