January 5, 2019

Ken’s Story: Finding Grace After Self-Destruction

By Ken Van Velzen

Anyone who has lived in this world with real life struggles and trials can certainly attest to the fact that the rosy world of advertisements isn’t always the way life turns out, rarely turns out. We start off with high expectations and hopes that our life is the one that shines like no other, but, when the shiny wears off and real-life steps in and introduces itself, well, what then?

What do we do when the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t just a light showing us the way to go but is a freight train bearing down on us in the tunnel of life? What’s our answer then — broken homes, broken promises, drugs, alcohol, withdrawal? Or is our answer God?

Of course, the answer we should give is God, but so often we ignore the most obvious and head straight down the tunnel toward self-destruction. Wives or husbands, children or friends cast aside as we try to take on the struggle of life on our own.

I know all too well what the answer shouldn’t be. When my life turned from the dream into the nightmare of reality, I took the wrong turn and headed down that tunnel of destruction. Money, drugs and alcohol became my gods and dug their claws deeply into my world, trying to claw my dream to pieces.

Arrested, and facing multiple charges and more than likely prison time, my lawyer advised committing myself into a mental health facility, which I did. For eight long weeks, my wife, Sharon, and my family prayed that I would turn back to God, but I wasn’t ready. After having all the charges dropped except a drunk driving charge, I still turned to everything but God and continued my self-destruction.

Then one day Sharon, who had her and our children’s bags packed and was ready to leave me, heard a song which had the line Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will.

God told her right then and there that she needed to stop praying that her life would get better and start praying that my life would. She did, and God started healing me, our marriage and family.

I started sharing my story, and I kept sharing it, and God worked a miracle in my life. With God’s love and care I stopped drinking and drugs, I started loving my Sweetness — my nickname for Sharon — and my children again with a love only God could give.

That was over 25 years ago, and I’ve never stopped trying to love my dear wife and children with a God-centered love that has continued to grow and grow. Although challenges never stopped coming, we got through them with God, family and friends at our side.

When Sharon lost her life to cancer on May 30, 2017, my world was shaken to its roots, but God was always at my side, carrying me when I felt I couldn’t continue this journey. Her legacy continues on in the lives of her family and all who knew her. The word “shaken” is special to me because it contains the first three letters of our names, SHAron and KEN.

We often look at other people’s lives and think, “Only if my life was like theirs, then I could live the life God intended me to live.” But what we often don’t know or see is what it took to get to where they are in life, we often only see the flower, not the thorns that were part of the process of producing the rose.

Will your life change forever – will the light at the end of the tunnel be the light to follow, or is it a train barreling down on you? The answer is never clear when we’re in the tunnel, but we can always trust that God would never run us over with life, no matter the obstacle. He is always there to protect us if we only put our trust in Him.  God doesn’t always remove the obstacles, but He does show us the clearest path through them.

3 Responses

    1. Thank you Mary. My path back to God had to be retold many times just as a reminder to myself that a bad day today sure beats those broken days of history.

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