This is Part 4 of our 6-part interview series. This is given by Ryan McLaughlin, who is still seeking the Lord. Please pray for him.
Listen, I’m not really sure how to tell this story. I grew up surrounded by a strong Irish family that had me in church from day one. My grandfather helped build the church that I still go to, the same church my four year old daughter and infant son go to, but in the last year, I have been away from the church and away from my family. None of this time away from either one has been a choice I made knowingly, but was still a choice I made out of desperation, not knowing it would end up with me writing this letter for a friend while waiting to go to federal prison. Going to church every Sunday wasn’t enough. You see, I know the Word of God and I’ve listened to sermons and been there for sunrise services. But, knowing the Word is not the same as living for God. It’s not enough just to stand and watch others. God wants action in our life.
I was asked to talk about who I am and how I found God. The “who I am” question is hard for me. I don’t really know. I know what I’ve done and I can honestly say I belong in prison. It’s the only way I know of to get my head clear of drugs. I’m a drug addict. I have been for over a decade. I’ve made horrible choices due to the fact that I’m so consumed by heroin. I forgot who I was before I started using. I don’t believe this is who I really am though. What I’ve done and who I am are different things. What I did to get me a bus ride to prison was foolish, selfish and centered around me, not my family or God. My charges are strong-arm robbery and I’m ashamed of what I’ve done. This isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever done, but it’s on the upper half of the list. Almost everything I’ve been locked up for has a direct link to drug addiction, but I truly believe what I’ve done is not who I am. Truth is – I don’t know who I am. I’m lost and searching for the answer to that question.
The “How did i find God” question, I can answer. He found me. God has always been there for me just like He has always been there for you. I just didn’t accept Him all the time. In fact, there was a time when I hated Him for taking my father away from me, but He has always been there. I always went to church, but that wasn’t enough. I had no order over the chaos in my life and I didn’t allow God to help. Now I talk to God about my issues and pray He is a father to my children while I’m in prison. He loves us like I love my kids and that is the greatest gift I have received. I don’t think anything trumps God’s love. God found me broken and lost and I found God’s love through family and friends. He knows my heart and sees my thoughts. He knows who I am even if I don’t and He loves me more than anything on this earth. I found drugs and when they left me broken and alone, God found the pieces scattered and frayed to the nerve. Together, me and God are trying to put together a man worthy of the family I’ve been blessed with.
God is forgiveness and love. If there is any message I have… it’s that, honestly, I’m still lost, but I have help and so do you. God is there for all of us. Read the book of John if you doubt His love.