Tim Dobelbower walked into The Village Church’s Elder-led Prayer as a man who had been clean for a little more than a day. His battle with drugs began with marijuana at age 13, and more than three decades later, it continued.
“I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, but I wanted to let people know where I was,” Tim said.
That began with confession and a Monday night spent in tears. He’d been attending Home Group sporadically, but his group leader persevered, checking up on him.
He’d tried various programs, some with 12 steps that often felt endless and led to further relapse. Tim’s group leader, Greg, wasn’t an expert on drug addiction, but he asked if he’d tried simply “crying out” to God. It wasn’t complex, but Tim admitted that was one route he hadn’t explored. In the middle of trying to rid his body of his latest binge, Tim gave it a try.
“I bawled. And I remember the next day, something had lifted,” he said.
Christ had always been there, working on Tim’s heart.
He called Greg that day and had two simple words: “I’m done.” Greg invited Tim to join him at Elder-led Prayer as part of The Village’s month of prayer in January. He hasn’t used a drug since and has rejoined his Home Group. His view of the gospel and its role in his life wasn’t the same.
“I was going to do what this church asked me to do,” Tim said.
That meant living life in constant confession with his group and cutting out relationships that led to more sin and away from His Savior. Christ met him where he was.
Christ had always been there, working on his heart as he struggled to rid himself of drugs and chasing road after empty road. He’d used those moments in Tim’s life to prepare his heart for what was to come.
“The Lord would not allow me to protect any hiding places. There was a peace I’d never had before. I kept confessing to those guys, and they laid their hands on me, prayed for me and weren’t freaked out,” he said. “I thought I had my own wing in the sinners hall of fame.”
His war with drugs isn’t over, but he’s won each daily battle since that Monday night in January 2013. Sexual sin is also a constant battle that requires accountability, confession and discipline combined with forgiveness when he falls short.
“I have more joy in my heart now. It’s like, this is what’s been waiting on you. You went through all of that to get to the only thing that matters, and that’s Christ,” Tim said. “Every desperate day I had has served the Lord well in my salvation and sanctification.”
Today, he draws on Colossians 1:13 for a constant reminder of his new identity, one that’s not centered around what he’s done or the sin that still hounds him today. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,“ the passage reads.
”I’m OK with not being OK. Every sin I get over, I run into something new where the Lord exposes me, and that’s a beautiful thing to me today. That’s grace,“ Tim said. ”When I put down dope before, I thought things were supposed to happen. I wanted to look like the guy next door who seemed to have it together. I wanted this external stuff to change, and sometimes it did, but my heart remained the same.“
Crying out to God finally helped turn the focus of his heart, still mired in sin but looking to Christ for forgiveness and redemption, armed with the knowledge of His unending love and the power of His grace.