I was about seven or eight years old that a relative member was accustomed to send me to the little house-store across the street from our residence to buy a stick of cigarette for her. Buying the cigarette was not the issue. When I purchased the stick of cigarette, I was also to light it up for her. As smokers and former smokers know, you will have to inhale the smoke to light up a cigarette. So each time I bought a cigarette, I light it up.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that keeps you smoking. Nicotine reaches the brain within seconds of taking a puff. In the brain, nicotine increases the release of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help regulate mood and behavior; Dopamine, one of these neurotransmitters, is released in the reward center of the brain and causes feelings of pleasure and improved mood. The more you smoke, the more nicotine you need to feel good. Nicotine quickly becomes part of your daily routine and intertwined with your habits and feelings.”
After lighting up more than enough cigarettes for someone else, now I was hooked on nicotine. From that time, I began searching on the ground for cigarette buds to smoke. Cigarette buds are the cigarettes that others have smoked and thrown away the rest. It could be half of a cigarette or much more shorter. But once addicted to nicotine, a person becomes a slave.
When I became a teenager and more independent, I started buying my own cigarette. I would smoke at least ten cigarettes a day. There were many times I wanted to quit, and I could not get myself to do it. Even though I heard on the radio and watched public health commercials of the danger of smoking, I just could not cut loose from that enslavement.
According to statistics all across the board, smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths. It also increases the likelihood of developing other types of cancer. It increases one’s risks of dying of heart disease, incurring diabetes, eye problems, infertility and importance, complications during pregnancy, tooth and gum disease, and the list goes on.
Knowing and the continual hearing of these facts could not help me stop smoking. I threw away packs of cigarettes many times, trying to quit. But it didn’t take long for me to run back to the store to buy more cigarettes. I was a slave to nicotine.
Then, some providential circumstances started to shift my thinking and, ultimately, my life. I did not know then, but retrospectively, I can see that it was God at work alluring me for my own good. One of the significant divine events that ensued was when I found a beautiful leatherbound New King James study Bible. I went to volunteer in Homestead, Florida, which was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. While volunteering in organizing donated items sent by the people of the community, I saw the Bible and I set it aside for when I was done working. Effectively, at the end of the evening, I took my Bible and left. You can read the whole story in my newly published book, Relentlessly Pursued by God.
I started to read the Bible every day. That why the subtitle of the book is. “Events, People, and Circumstances Divinely Choreographed by God for My Appointed Time of Salvation.” God was using the Bible, various people, and all types of circumstances and events to draw my attention to His gracious love found in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Although I was not yet a follower of Jesus Christ, the fact that I was reading the Bible, it began to transform me from the inside out. One of my friends with whom I used to spend time, drinking stouts, and smoking marijuana, realized the change in me, and although he was not a professed Christian, he told me about the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s local channel. And I began to watch it.
Astonishingly, one day as I stood inside that same friend’s wooden gate before knocking on the door, an inspiration came out of nowhere. I stood there for a minute and being sick and tired of being incessantly controlled by nicotine. I pulled out a stick of cigarette and started speaking to it. I held that cigarette between my thumb and my index finger. I looked at it. I said to cigarette, “look how small you are, and look how big I am, and I have been allowing you to control me. From this day forward, I will not be controlled by you any longer.” I’m sure my wording was not in so many words. However, since that day in 1992, I have not smoked nor desired to smoke.
It was not willpower, neither the patch nor some other medical or psychological product. It was the Word of God working in me. I did not know anything about talking to a lifeless object. I did not plan to take that bold and crazy action. But the grace of God was working in me and around me many wonders. It was not until a few weeks later, through God’s many interventions, did I finally came to know and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. This is the story that is told in my book. Relentlessly Pursued by God tells my story from when I was five years old to when the angel came into my room with a message from heaven when I finally surrendered and say yes to the Lord.
You, too, can begin a transformative life by making time for the Word of God. The Word of God is life, power, and light. Schedule time daily to spend in the Word of God. Please read it, study it, reflect on it, and share it. As you do that, you will begin to see a transformation that no other thing, people, or concept can ever do.
Mayo Clinic Staff, Nicotine Dependence (Mayoclinic.org), accessed on October 27, 2020.
My newly published testimony book is available on Amazon.