Turned to God from idols
by Gregory Madison
My name is Gregory Madison. I, seriously, doubt whether anyone has been as backslidden as I when it comes to drug use (and the things that go along with it). I, originally, chose to embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ back in 1981 in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Before then I was known to look through various books and the moment that Jesus Christ was mentioned I would hurriedly throw the book back on the shelf. But in 1981 the word of God had such an appeal that I consciously chose to turn from drinking, drugs, cigarette smoking, pornography, fornication, and whatever else would hinder my relationship with God and His service. I stopped smoking and drinking for about five years. I was, also, celibate for 3 or 4 years. During that time I was joyfully absorbed in the study of God’s Word, fellowshipping with those who were likeminded (whenever and wherever I could), and sharing with those who were estranged from the wonder and joy of knowing Jesus.
Somewhere around 1986 I started to slip away from choosing Christ as the center of my life. In 1987 I began working for the United States Post Office. During my first year at the Post Office I began to use crack cocaine. For about the next 23 years I became enslaved to the passion of living a self-gratifying life (except for the times when God would humble me, by His grace, to seek out some sort of sanity through either a formal program or the program that He has designed in reverencing Christ). During those 23 years I participated in both Christian and secular drug programs (at least 14-15 in number). The programs included Veterans’ programs at various locations, Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, a farm program in Colorado (owned by Denver Rescue Mission), as well as many others. My resignation from the Post Office in 1994 gave me the liberty to leave my hometown and seek out sobriety in other locations.
From almost day one of my struggle to abstain from these indulgences I sought to discover what the Bible has to say concerning addictions. In 1996
I began a personal study describing the link between addiction and idolatry. This is now a lifetime study of mine. Although I had begun to find the answers that I was looking for concerning addictions, I kept going back..
During those 23 years the longest time that I remained ‘sober’ was for 17 months (mainly because I lived away from the city, at that time). I lived at different places for 7 years, going from one program to another. At other times I lived on the streets and with friends (on and off drugs). It was in the year of 2003 that I decided that there was no way that I was ever going to quit using drugs again. This was the first time that I had ever stooped to that level. Since I had made such a decision, I thought that it would be best for me to go to Florida where I could find what is thought to be the purest cocaine..
After spending the winter in Florida and going back north in the summer for two years I returned to Cleveland, Ohio. Somehow, God began to convince me that His way is best and that my actions were highly offensive towards He and my fellowman. I thought of how I was not only depriving myself, but also God (as well as others). This led to a decision to remain in Cleveland and seek out the help of my family and the faith community. I vowed to never move away until I had thoroughly allowed God to deal with my addictions and was considered to be ‘stable’. For about the next 6 years I went into the VA several times, joined different churches, and continued to read and write bilbe-based material on addictions.
From 2005 until 2011 I sought to develop a consistent life of sobriety. I would sometimes go on for months at a time only to return to drugs. In January of 2011 I heard that my grandmother in Memphis, Tennessee was very ill. I knew that I could be of no help to her (or anyone) because of the investments that I was making on my addictions. I started doing everything I needed to do so that I would be able to assist my grandmother and her husband (86 and 96, at the time) as soon as possible. Through the power of Christ, the strength of His word, the prayers and support of my dad, and with the aid of a church I was able to begin a consistent walk with Christ for 2 months before traveling to Memphis. In October of 2011 I wavered from the path of sobriety for one day. Besides that one day I can honestly say that the things that have been most important to me is hearing God and being used by God each and every day. True and lasting sobriety that is pleasing to God is found in Christ alone. In February of 2012 my gracious Master allowed me to move to the city of Memphis. He not only led me to an apartment near Madison and Cleveland, He, also, gave me a wife, since moving to Memphis (who is from Cleveland as well).
Madison from Cleveland.