When my college years ended, I decided to set a few goals, and they were as follows:
- I want to become manager of a grocery story by the time I am 25.
- I want to own a grocery store by the time I am 30.
- I want to own two businesses by the time I am 35.
I accomplished all of them by the time I was 23.
I was a success in the eyes of the world, but my life was falling apart. My marriage was strained by my long hours of work. My drinking was turning into a dependence on alcohol, and I had other bad habits taking over my life. I was approaching the end of my life as I knew it, and something was about to explode if I couldn’t get things under control.
At 2:30 one morning as I lay in bed, I came to the end of my rope. I cried out to God, “Lord, I need you to be Lord of my life.” I realized I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, but I had failed to give my life over to him.
As the tears streamed down my face, I decided life could not go on if things didn’t change. I cried out to God, saying my life had no value to me, so “if you want it, God, I will give it to you to do with as you wish,” and he responded to my prayer.
When I reached out to God that night, something special happened. I was sitting in bed in the corner of the room when suddenly the brightest light you could ever imagine appeared and lit up my room. The room was so illuminated that I could see my wife peacefully sleeping.
I pinched myself to make sure I was awake, and then the light went right through me and complete calmness came over me—a peaceful feeling that I describe as something only God could give. In that moment, I knew God took the burdens of alcohol and the other additions from my life. God was my deliverer!
A simple grocer with little to offer was given deliverance by the Creator of all things. It was so incredible that the next two years of my life were filled with nothing but Jesus. Every hour of every day was consumed with thoughts of him who saved me. I grew faster spiritually than at any time before or since those precious years.
I do not know why it took this miracle for me to believe, but it changed my life from that day on forever. I could not go back to my old self, for the new had come and the old had gone.
After that night, I never drank again and when temptation came years later, my favorite verse came to mind: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (I Cor. 10:13).
God understands what we are going through. He will be there for us, and when we have a temptation come our way he will help us say no to it, help us run from it and help us stay away from it. He is our deliverer.
John Langer lives in Gettysburg, South Dakota, where he owns a grocery store. His passion is sharing Jesus with others. This commitment has prompted Langer to have about 20 people live with his family and to mentor well over 100 men and women toward a new or deeper relationship with God. This essay is reprinted from his book, Yes, God Does Speak: Remarkable Stories of God’s Power, published in 2017 by Evergreen Press.