When a crackhead became a real father
“I used to pull my hair out tryin’ to keep my little girl from reachin’ up and burnin’ her hand on the stove,” Al told me. “I kept sayin’, ‘No, you can’t do that. It’s hot. Hot, hot, hot.’ Then, one day, I realized something. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I gotta let my little girl burn her hand. That’s the hardest part of being a dad. You can talk to your kids all day. You try to tell ’em what’s right, but sometimes you gotta let ’em burn their hand.”
I could have listened to Al share his folksy wisdom for hours. The lessons he’s learned as a father were among my favorites, but his conversion story was the best.
Al was still a drug addict after his daughter was born. “I spent half of everything I had on pacifiers,” he said. “I spent the other half on crack.” When his employer gifted him a sizable bonus one week, he went home with a skip in his step, a new toy for his little girl, and “enough crack to knock [him] out for a week.” Those were his words. Once home, he gave his daughter the toy, sat beside her, and prepared his pipe.
“I can’t exactly explain what happened next,” he said. “I had the pipe in my mouth when I looked over at her, and she was shakin’ her head. I’ve never seen a baby that little shake her head before. If she could have talked, she would’ve said, ‘No, Daddy, no.’ It wasn’t like she was mad at me. I think she was worried about me.”
According to Al, God used his daughter to get his attention that day. “Oh, Jesus,” he prayed. “I can’t quit this stuff. I don’t have it in me. But you do. Save me, Lord. Save me. Save my body from crack, and save my soul from hell. Save me and my little girl from—me.”
Al has been clean and sober ever since—thirty years and counting.
“Don’t tell me Jesus ain’t real,” he said. “I met him. He took the crack pipe right out of my hand. He turned a crackhead into a real father. I didn’t do that. He did that.”
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1Co 6:11).