By Nick Judd

This week I’ve written Bible lessons for children, prepared an intro to a Christmas Eve church service, spoken at a Recovery ministry and recorded a podcast that equips Christians to defend their faith. If you were to look at my life today you would likely assume that I grew up in a nice stable home, got good grades in school, went off to college, got married, had kids and now I’m living happily ever after. Reality, however, could not be further from the truth.

It is the grace of God and His grace alone that has brought me to this place in life. Things are so different now that even I have a hard time believing it myself. The trajectory my life was on should have landed me anywhere but here.

I grew up in a single parent household with step-dads coming in and out of the picture off and on throughout the years. My mom did the best she could raising three “latch key kids” in the 90’s. She had dealt with her own share of hardships and pain and without Christ in our lives, that often didn’t turn out well. I am thankful for how much she sacrificed throughout the years though, and now I can see that all we endured together was part of a bigger plan.

We visited churches every now and then but it never really had any place in our lives. I had no idea what the Gospel was, how I could be made right with God or that God even cared about me at all. My understanding of Christ dying on the cross was basically that we are all crappy, God was mad, Jesus died and now God’s not mad any more. My understanding of Christianity was that it’s basically a crutch that weak people use to deal with life, that it’s something for better people than me and that those running churches were like CEO’s running businesses taking those other people’s money. 

I began drinking and experimenting with drugs in middle school and by the time high school came around it was almost more common for me to be drunk or high than sober. The unaddressed psychological issues that had arisen as a result of all the dysfunction in my childhood and adolescence led me deeper into substance abuse and all forms of sin. As a 16 year old kid, while all my friends were getting high to party, I found myself not even enjoying it, but doing it just to escape my awful reality. This created a cycle that might have killed me. The more I ran from my mental health problems via substance abuse, the worse those problems got and the worse the problems got the more I used. 

What seemed to be a hopeless situation continued in that state until I turned 19 and then everything began to change…

This is the beginning of my story. I’ve broken this story up into two parts. I have chosen to leave part 1 here very purposefully. This stage, where the cycle was driving me deeper and deeper into a hole of emptiness, and where I began to see that something had to change - a change that I had no hope of ever attaining, is where many people get stuck and never move on from.

If this is where you’re at, I’ll give you a spoiler: Christ is the answer. He came to set the captives free. I can’t wait to tell you just how He did that for me in part 2 of this story. Until then, hope in the Lord.