My name is Michael Estell and I grew up on a small farm located in Halltown, Missouri with my mom, dad, and older brother. My dad was the provider and my mother was a stay at home mom. I grew up with cows, horses, and plenty of things to do outside. A lot of my friends that I went to school with had grown up beside me in the country. It was a pretty good home and life by worldly standards.
I remember at age fourteen my parents setting myself and brother down at the dining room table and explaining to us that they were getting a divorce. I was caught by surprise to say the least and my dad immediately moved out. Within a couple of months the divorce went through, my dad and older brother moved out of state, and I remained with my mom. My mother had to sell the house I grew up in because she was not able to afford it.
After the house sold we moved to a new town, into a new house, and my mother was forced to work full-time and then some. I had to adjust to a new school and desperately wanted to have new friends so I did whatever I could to fit in and be liked. This is when I was introduced to alcohol and marijuana. I remember that my alcohol and drug use began as a weekend thing hanging out with friends but by the time I was almost sixteen it was something I desired to do every day. I loved getting high because it helped me escape from reality.
At age sixteen I used methamphetamines for the first time and immediately I was hooked. I continued to use the other drugs but meth was my drug of choice and to me there was nothing better. Within that same year I dropped out of High School, was kicked out of my mom’s house, had interactions with the law, and was living with a girl. I could not hold down a job because of my addiction so I resorted to stealing. I turned to crime to support my habit. There was nothing more important to me than getting high on meth.
At age seventeen my mother signed a waiver and I went into the Army. I made it through basic training without using drugs but it did not last long. The first pass I received from the military I came home to Springfield and got high. Within a couple of months I never came back from a pass and continued to fuel my addiction by stealing. At age eighteen I was arrested and held in the county jail for committing eight different felonies of burglary, stealing, and receiving stolen property.
Law enforcement was tired of dealing with me and they knew I had gotten away with a lot more than what I got caught for. So, they decided to send me to the Department of Corrections (prison) for the first time. This started a long cycle over the next twelve years of my life where I would go to prison, get out, use, commit more crimes, and go back to prison. By the time I was thirty years old I had been incarcerated four separate times equaling almost eight years, been in two different impatient drug treatment programs, on the run from the law for 543 days, had been supervised by the State of Missouri since I became an adult, and I had been getting high the whole time.
When I got out of prison the last time I went into a halfway house located in Springfield, Missouri and got my first job in sales. I was naturally very good in this kind of work and it allowed me to make really good money. This was the first time in my life that I was able to make enough money to pay for my drug addiction without committing crimes. This led me to try other drugs like heroin, cocaine, pills, acid, mushrooms, while I continued to use my favorite, meth.
I eventually married a young lady I worked with and we had a child together. By this time we had bought a house, had a few cars, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and all the comforts that one might think would bring happiness, but this was not the case. During this time I continued to use drugs and my wife begged me to stop. I would make her promise after promise that I would quit, but never did. I lied to her over and over and over again until one day she had enough. She eventually moved out and divorced me. My addiction had cost me my marriage, my son, my house, cars, motorcycle, and the job that paid for my habit.
I ended up moving in and renting a room from an old friend that I use to party with before I got married. I would get a job long enough to get a little money in my hands and then quit or get fired. My drug use was the worst that it had ever been. During this time I met someone that taught me how to cook meth and everything went from bad to worse. My only desire was to get high, escape reality, and cook more meth. That’s it. I was willing to do anything to keep my drug use going. I was a pitiful human being to say the least.
One day I was in a bedroom, windows blacked out, doors locked, paranoid, making meth, getting high, and thinking to myself that I was going to die this way. Since my first drug use at age fifteen I had tried to stop using so many times. I really had the desire to quit but never the power to get it done. I remember praying to God and asking Him in that bedroom for help. I said “if you are real God, I cannot quit on my own, I need you to break this stranglehold.” Within two weeks I was arrested on charges of manufacturing, distribution, and possession of a controlled substance. God had answered my prayer.
The day my addictions were broken and everything changed for me is when I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ while I was in an old jail. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 says “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Verse one Paul says “the gospel.” What is the gospel? It is the good news that God sent his only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into this world to rescue us. Jesus was born of a virgin. He lived under the Law, and with perfect obedience kept the Law that you and I have broken day after day. He went to the cross and was lifted up to die. That all the sins of all the people who would ever believe in him would be transferred to him upon that cross. That He would die and be taken down, buried in a borrowed tomb, and on the third day was raised from the dead. That He ascended on high, seated at the right hand of the Father and “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
This gospel is God’s gospel. It has come down from the throne of God above. God is the source of the gospel, the author of the gospel, and He is the creator of the gospel. Peter said as he stood before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” What can change a man like me? The gospel of Jesus Christ.
When I believed “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4) I was saved from God’s wrath, the penalty of my sin was paid for by Jesus Christ, I was adopted into God’s family, the Holy Spirit now resides in me, I have peace with God, I have access to God 24 hours a day/7days a week, an abundant life right here, right now, will spend eternity in Heaven, and my slavery and bondage to sin (addiction) has been broken. I have the power through Christ to say no to sin. From the moment I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior I no longer have the desire to use drugs. Because of God’s mercy and kindness He took the desire away.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Paul says, “if anyone is in Christ” meaning if anyone is saved, he is a new creation. “In Christ” means we have security in Christ, who bore the penalty of our sin. It means we are accepted by him, with whom God alone is well pleased. It means we have eternal life in heaven. And it means we have been given the very nature of Christ. Every day we become more like him.
“A new creation” describes a new level of excellence. It refers to the new birth once a person has put their faith in Christ. It means their sins have been paid for by Christ’s substitionary death on the cross. “The old has passed away” describes the person’s old value systems, priorities, beliefs, loves, and plans are gone. Yes, they will continue to sin, but the believer sees them in a new perspective, and they no longer control him. The believer has the desire to please God in everything they do.
My old value system, priorities, beliefs, loves, and plans were to get high every single day and stay that way at whatever the cost. From the moment I put my faith and trust in Christ my value system is to please God, serve God, love God, and love his people. My priorities are to teach, preach, disciple, and counsel God’s word well. My belief is that God will save anyone wanting to be saved, because He tells us this in his word. My plans are to give God everything I have just like I did with my addiction. I now live for eternity, not temporal things that fade away.
What is it that can break every addiction? What is it that can take a career criminal and make him a leader, teacher, preacher and counselor? What is it that can restore every relationship you tore down and mend every bridge you burned? What is it that can take a sinner, a child of disobedience, and make him a child of God? It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man (Jesus) came to seek and save the lost.” Jesus Christ has already made the provision of salvation available to us through his life, crucifixion, and resurrection. Salvation is by God’s grace through faith in his Son. Confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). There is no one so good they do not need to be saved and there is no one so bad they cannot get saved. God’s boundless resources are available to those who put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no addiction, bondage, or stranglehold that cannot be broken through Christ.