By Dr. Jeff McFarlane
Clinical Director
Restoration Counseling Services

I can never remember a time when there was not alcohol in my home. After a full week of travel as an insurance adjuster, Dad would arrive home on Friday afternoons with a case of whiskey. There were liquor bottles all over our house – the kitchen, my parents’ bedroom, the bathroom, even in the cars. Mom drank to, and eventually alcoholism cost them their jobs.

My father was verbally abusive to all of us. My oldest brother, Peter, heard Dad’s message of “you’re worthless” and tried to prove him wrong. But it was no use. Tragically, during this time my older brother, Greg, suffered leukemia and died when he was just ten years old.

Unfortunately, my sister, Alex, took Dad’s message to heart. At 16 she moved out of the house and got married, only to have her husband die from a heroin overdose six months later. Alex herself barely survived an overdose. She became a prostitute, had several abortions and put one child up for adoption. For several years we didn’t know if she was dead or alive.

I heard Dad’s “worthless” message, but tried to ignore it. I was extremely closed off to people, and no one knew what was really going on in my family. I dated in high school and early college years, but most of these relationships ended within a few months because I was so isolated, angry and withdrawn.

Then, when I was 20, my life changed. Peter came home from college professing to be a Christian. Whatever he had was real. That next June, in the evening service of a small church, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. There was a dramatic change in my life as God started a work of restoration in me (1 Peter 5:10).

Paul’s words in Galatians said it all: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” I asked God to be the Lord of my life and fill me with me with His Holy Spirit. As He began to show me the harm and pain of my life, I began to know true healing.

Peter and I began to pray for our family. Soon after, Alex gave her life to the Lord. Three months before my mother died, she accepted Christ. Then, shortly before passing away from throat cancer, my father received the Lord.

To simply say that all of this is an incredible miracle is an understatement. To say that God’s grace and mercy continue working in me is the absolute truth. He has given me a beautiful wife, Laurie, who loves the Lord. Together we have served Him in fulltime ministry for more than 25 years. God has gifted us with four wonderful children who have each accepted Christ as Savior. Words can not adequately express the joy and thankfulness I have for all He has done and continues to do. I praise His name.

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