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Real-life stories: Involved in drugs and/or alcohol abuse or dependancy

“I Fell Into An Alcoholic Pit And Have Been Rescued”

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Have you ever fallen into a pit and been rescued? I have and here’s how it happened.
I was brought up in a home where church going was the norm, and my parents taught us right from wrong, leading by example.

They were hard working, extremely honest, and always putting others first. We weren’t rich in financial terms but the main thing was I felt loved unconditionally. It was a very happy childhood. I remember my dad saying to me on my fifth birthday – ‘you are now old enough to go to church with your older brother and me.’ I felt so proud!

Church life for me involved singing in a very good choir, and helping out by carrying a vessel of incense which, added to charcoal, produced a lovely smell. I enjoyed the ceremony and somehow felt I was being good for going to church once a week. It gave me a nice, comfortable, feeling and I liked the routine at that time. I thought the incense helped send prayers up to God!

I remember that we used to say a prayer every Sunday, acknowledging that we had done bad things during the week. I joined in, but not particularly enthusiastically. The vicar then said we had been forgiven our sins, which was nice, but there was no intention on my part to improve my behaviour the following week. I also thought it was the vicar who had the power to forgive my sins. I didn’t think beyond that and certainly didn’t think I needed a saviour. Life was good – I had a nice home life, lots of friends and outside interests. I could manage on my own, thank you very much.

From about the mid 1970s I began drinking alcoholically. At that time I also got married but that responsibility made no difference to my lifestyle. Things got worse and worse. In 1986, I reached rock bottom and cried out to God (not really knowing what sort of god I was crying out to) for help. However, He graciously pulled me out of the pit and with the help of a recovery support group has kept me sober ever since. I really identify with the author of Psalm 40 in the Bible which talks about God lifting him out of a pit of despair and setting his feet on solid ground, as that has certainly been my experience.

I realised, once I’d sobered up, that God had worked a miracle in my life, so I decided to find out more about Him, through a course called Christianity Explored held at my present church. This course was a real eye opener. We were taken through Mark’s Gospel, finding out who Jesus was, what He came to do, and what it meant to follow Him. First I had to unlearn a few things about God, especially the fact that I couldn’t reach Him through good works – as I said before, he reached down to me purely through His grace. I didn’t have to climb up to Him. He didn’t throw a ladder down into my pit and then gave me a series of instructions on how to get out of the pit before he would consider my case. He saved me first, just like he did with the Israelites when they were enslaved by the Egyptians.

It became very clear to me that I had lived my life, totally disregarding my creator. I had never let God be God in my life. The Bible calls this attitude ‘sin’ and it separated me from God. It seemed that I was a hopeless case. I learnt that it didn’t matter how good I was in human terms, I would always fall short of God’s perfect standards. All those years of carrying incense at church, or helping a few old ladies across the road, wouldn’t save me. What a dilemma, especially when it was explained to me that when I die I will face judgement before God who knows everything about me. Not an appealing thought.

Thankfully, my story doesn’t end there. Towards the end of the course, I was taught about the meaning of the cross. As a child I was used to seeing crosses at church and home, but had never really appreciated that the person hanging on that cross, Jesus, died taking on himself all the sins of the world. Even mine! In effect, God was offering me a free gift, and all I had to do was to accept it, and take up my own cross and follow Him. Taking up my cross means not being ashamed of Jesus, defending him in private and public, even if this involves ridicule or persecution. But the long-term gain, for possible short term pain, will be worth it.

I joined in the prayer at the end of Christianity Explored, accepting what Jesus had done for me, and asking for the strength to live a godly life. This would involve doing a complete U turn, handing my will and my life over to God, instead of being self-centred as I had been in the past. That’s the moment when I became a Christian. As a Christian, Christ lives within me as the Holy Spirit, a kind of counsellor if you like. He (the Holy Spirit) will never leave me, and is there to help me become more like Christ day by day. This doesn’t mean that I no longer have a will of my own. God still allows me to make choices and suffer consequences. Often I do things which sadden the Holy Spirit and I have to keep going back to the cross, as it were, acknowledging my failures and praying for the strength not to do those things again. Sometimes, I have to do this several times a day. I’m a very slow learner!



Being a Christian is much more than the best thing since sliced bread. It gives meaning and direction to my life on this earth, and the promise of an eternal life without any pain, suffering, war or death when I die. It has also given me a wonderful church family, who help me to learn how to live as a Christian on a day-by-day basis, and with whom I can pray and learn more about Him. God works in mysterious ways. In my case I had to reach a rock bottom before turning to God, but it doesn’t have to be like that. You can turn to God at any time. We all need Him, however safe and self-assured we may feel.

Chris Stillman, 2009


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