Sara Flanner explains how Jesus transformed her life during lockdown
Nine months ago, I was seven and a half stone, on 17 tablets a day and desperately wanting to come off alcohol.
I had become alcohol dependent without realising it. My life had spiralled; I had to leave my job as I started to get the shakes from not being able to drink, and I found myself in an exhausting, abusive relationship.
Addiction had crept into me and taken hold of me. I was sick every day, my hair and teeth were falling out and I remember one evening looking at myself in the mirror and I honestly didn’t recognise myself any more. I broke down on the floor and felt like I was dying. I remember feeling I was ready to go to heaven and be with my mum, who had died two years earlier.
I just remember lying on my floor, thinking there is no hope.
A fresh encounter with God
I had been brought up in a born-again Christian family, which was a real privilege. But as time had gone on, I’d lost sight of my faith. I still knew there was a God so I asked Jesus to come back to me. The Holy Spirit came to me and I started speaking in tongues. I didn’t think that I could still do that but, when I couldn’t find any words to pray to God, I continued to pray in tongues.
As I cried out, a peace came over me immediately. I got up off the floor and knew that shame and grief had left my body. I washed my face and, with that, I got into bed and slept.
I began to detox myself and managed to get myself down to one and a half bottles of wine a day and, within a few days, I was given an opportunity to do a detox at a medical centre. When I entered the centre I was told I was six times over the legal limit, even though I’d only had half a glass of wine that day. After 20 years of having alcohol in my body every day, they warned me that if I had waited another year this would have been a very different story.
A miraculous detox
I went very willingly and submissively, almost as if I was in a trance. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t nervous. And there was a really quiet anticipation for my life to change. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it never crossed my mind that I would ever drink again. Three days later, I was absolutely free of alcohol.
People ask me all the time, how I’ve given up alcohol so easily. In the end I have to say it’s God, because it is so simple for me not to drink. The journey hasn’t been easy, because of the inner healing I have had to go through, but I was born free of alcohol and so therefore I have received freedom from it once again from God.
I REMEMBER LYING ON MY FLOOR, THINKING THERE IS NO HOPE
When other addicts look at me, I imagine they are rolling their eyes at me, expecting to me fall off the wagon at some point, but it doesn’t even enter my head to drink again. I’m a walking miracle. But I haven’t done this through my own willpower. I do it with a walk with Jesus and, when I think back to the situations that I got myself into, I know I am lucky to be alive.
God came to me and he showed me that he loved me. He didn’t just love everybody else, he loved me. And even though I was privileged enough to have a background knowledge about God and his word, I never ever knew it for myself.
WHEN PEOPLE ASK HOW I GAVE UP ALCOHOL SO EASILY, I HAVE TO SAY IT WAS GOD
I realised I did not want my heavenly Father as my judge. I wanted him as my Father and, every day since, he has come to me in a really personal way. I had a void inside of me that I tried to fill with all this stuff, but it didn’t work. Jesus has filled up that void and I feel like I have been jumpstarted back into my beautiful walk with him.
Since I have known that love of God, my life has changed beyond recognition. I have a lovely three bedroomed property. I have the respect and the love of my family. I am completely free from addiction and I am buzzing with life. I no longer take any tablets and I’ve had the honour of being invited back to the job that I left 18 months ago. Praise God that the company saw something in me, even when I was at my lowest.
I’ve joined Renewal Church in Solihull. I am in a connect group and, together with my dad, study the Bible. I’ve really got into my Bible and I find I’m reading it with new eyes now, just drinking it in. It longer just feels like a book; it’s become my help book.
If you are praying for friends and family to know Jesus in a personal way, please carry on. God has not given up, he is listening. I am testament to that. I praise God for my mum and dad. I praise God for my prayer teams. I didn’t even know half of them existed and yet they were praying for me!
I’m not going to take my eyes off Jesus. Never again am I going to make my own way.
SARA FLANNER was speaking to Premier’s Rachel Matthews