To Jeff Durbin, drugs were like coffee — they gave him the energy and stability he needed to get through the day. But it came at a high price.
Durbin had figured it all out. By any measure on this earth, he had reached the pinnacle of accomplishment. He had won regional, national and world championship tournaments in martial arts and worked as the choreographer and stuntman for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise.
“I got everything I asked for,” he explained in a new video, “and it wasn’t enough.”
Durbin was an alcoholic, a raging drug user and a reckless partier. Any drug within arms length ended up in his body. He ultimately developed a crippling addiction to ecstasy.
“Ecstasy users know how you die with ecstasy,” he explained. “You overheat. You see people [overdose] on ecstasy and they’re just writhing around and they just can’t stop moving and their skin is red and they’re gasping for air because they’re just cooking themselves — their body’s just jacked up.”
On one particularly climactic night, probably not unlike some others before it, Durbin became acutely aware of his racing heartbeat and his overheated body. His skin red, Durbin rushed to the bathroom, where he filled the bathtub with cold water and ice and plunged into the frosty pool.
It wasn’t enough. His sweltering skin melted the ice and his condition seemed only to worsen, as if the chilled water was somehow insulating his body as it burned from the inside out.
So he tried something new. He prayed.
“I just called out to God,” Durbin remembered. “I said, ‘I know what I’m doing. You have every right to kill me, but please don’t kill me yet. Just destroy my life; get me out of this. And it was honestly like a switch. It was, ‘Done.’ I’m back.”
In an instant, he said, sanity was restored, his heart rate slowed and he felt the heat locked up in his bones finally escape his ailing body. His life was spared.
But he fell back into his bad habits, returning once again to the one thing that had been with him through everything: drugs. Soon thereafter, though, his life went haywire — perhaps a divine response to his doped up request.
When all the noise was hushed and all the trappings had turned to burdens, all that was left was God. Durbin was staring down two paths: an abysmal highway careening toward certain destruction, or a journey toward a Creator whose love he had yet to understand but had certainly experienced.
Eager to feel the peace that washed over his body in that cold bathtub, Durbin chose the latter.
“I began to open the Bible,” he recalled. “I’m reading Jesus call people to him and say, ‘Come and die.’ And I thought to myself, ‘I never understood that.’ And I’ve seen Jesus say, ‘Repent.’ And I’m seeing the Bible talk about when a person turns to Christ, they’re coming to have peace with God and to be forgiven.”
Durbin, as he poured over Scripture, soon realized the Gospel is “bigger” and “better” than just salvation.
“It’s not just a message about saying some words and then going to heaven one day,” he said. “It’s about you being reconciled to God today and being forgiven and knowing God and God changing you and transforming you and making you like Jesus, all as a gift because of what Jesus did.”
As he began to understand the richness of what God was offering him, Durbin was suddenly overwhelmed with the reality of his own imperfection. He told God he was “foul” and had “nothing to offer.”
But he trusted God, asking him to “rule” over his life.
“And that’s when my life started to change,” Durbin said. “That’s it.”
Since becoming a Christian, Durbin has never relapsed and today serves as a teaching pastor at Apologia Church in Phoenix, Arizona. He also leads a ministry called Apologia Studios, through which he reaches out to those struggling with drug addiction and works to share the Gospel message with anyone willing to listen.