Tennessee Williams once wrote: "We all live in a house of fire. No fire department to call. No way out. Just the upstairs window to look out while the fire burns the house down, with us trapped, and locked inside."
My spark started early. I was young and my fired burned long, bright, and reached far beyond my own house, my family and my soul. My fire crept into the corners of darkness and took hold. It consumed me and pursued me. At 12 years old, I was introduced to alcohol and by the time I was 15, I was a full-blown alcoholic. As the years continued, I was a regular visitor to jails and found solace in the darkest and deepest depths of alcohol and drugs. I saw a better life for myself, but addiction won every time.
On the streets and on my own, my strength and power came in the form of a .357 Magnum. I thought I knew it all, but I knew I was a fraud and a liar. I believed myself invincible, and a God amongst mere mortals. As my fire raged, the foundations of my house crumbled and I along with it, consumed in worldly materials.
It was during one dark moment that I had my dance with the devil. I shook hands with death and looked a gun in the eye. However, at 24, my life would change forever. It took a near fatal car accident to make me believe that I wasn't invincible, and that I needed to turn my life over to a higher power. Because of the wreck, I was forced to dance with a new idea; a new idea that saved my life and saved my soul.
I wasn't a religious man and I wouldn't have considered myself a good man, but God, within the rough of my sin and sorrow, knew I was a diamond. With the Bible, through his words and his teachings, I found a way to redirect the fire. This new fire, this new life and way of living no longer burned me down. Rather, it fuelled me and brought warmth to a new home, "built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)."
I continued to live with Christ as my cornerstone. I've built businesses and found success with Christ and with knowing he is for me.
Shortly after a spiritual nurse turned me over to the Bible, I started to believe in myself. Life was worth living if I devoted my life to Jesus and what he did for me and the entire world. It was through him that I found my own salvation, my own reason to live. Some may say, I've heard this all before, but all I know is what I've been through, and my hope is that no one else goes through the same horror. But in all honesty, going through what I went through turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I don't know that I would be where I am today without hitting rock bottom all those years ago.
Teaching God's word is my passion. I've made millions in business, met world leaders, and travelled globally. But my true love, outside of my faith and family, are my teachings. There's nothing more empowering than watching a young man or woman who is down on their luck, find their own way through the Bible. I talk to prisoners all the time about finding their faith and why it's so important to them in order to stay out of trouble. Faith helped me go from a homeless drug addict to a multi-millionaire. My life is a gift that I want to share with everyone and that is why I decided to write the book, to give everyone an opportunity to see the road I chose to take and hope they will find a similar path to success.
Today, I'm completely drug- and alcohol-free, and owe it all to my faith in God. I write a daily devotional, which I've been writing for the past 12 years. I've never been happier. I've founded 11 successful businesses, one of which I recently sold for $75 million. I recently authored and published a book about my life and how God helped me through my darkest hour; Miracle on Luckie Street is the title. I've raised three successful, happily married sons and seven wonderful grandchildren. I've taught all of them what I learned along the way and how to find their faith in God, read the Bible, and be a good Christian. If someone can accomplish all three of those goals, I believe you are successful in your life.
My entire life is now dedicated to my faith, my family, and my teachings. I am the CEO of the Williamson Group and just recently built the magnificent $35 million Honey Lake Resort and Spa in North Florida. Some 50 years ago, I would never have imagined all of this. But none of it would have been possible had it not been for a near-fatal car accident, and a chance encounter with the Bible.
On the resort is a church, a constant reminder of what saved me in my darkest hour. Each day I pass it, I'm reminded of how far I've come and the road it took to get here. I don't know how many memories I missed out on because of my addiction, but I do know that God has a plan, and his plan for me was to bottom out and rise up again.
Since the accident, I've spent every day thanking him for my good blessings. Sure there are days when life hits you between the eyes, but I'm alive to feel, alive to touch and alive to teach. There's a very famous sports phrase from the 1980 Olympics from Al Michaels that says, "Do You Believe in Miracles?"
Yes I do.