SET FREE BY GOD

My name is Joe Guzdziol. and I want to begin by giving all the glory and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ for what He's done in my life. With Him on your side, it doesn't matter what you are going through, you've always got more blessings than problems.

I was born physically normal, but something began to happen to my legs when I was about four years old, unlike anything seen before by the many doctors I was taken to. Year by year my legs became more spastic and weaker. Surgeries attempting to correct my condition made it worse, and since recovering from the last one, I have been getting around on crutches.

Blaming God for all this, I lived in rebellion for years. When I was 26, God used others to touch my heart and show me the way to Him. Serving Jesus these last 14 years has been by far the best time of my life.

Below you will find additional episodes as I build toward the full blown account of my life. WARNING: some of what I related here may be shocking, as I intend to be as plain and honest as I can. At this point, I just want to get down everything I can possibly remember, counting on the Lord to help my get things into the form He wants them as I proceed. So if you're offended by anything in here, sorry, this is just how things are right now...


-BORN I was born physically normal.

I was born in 1958 with no complications, except labor was so quick my mother thought an intern was going to have to deliver me; there was barely time to get to a room.

-DISABILITY START; DOCTORS

No one is really sure, but as near as I can tell, my disability started when I was about four and a half years old. The onset was so gradual, even I didn't know until a 1st grade classmate asked me, "Joe, why are you walking like that?" "Like what?" I said. "With your legs bent a little, like this." He crouched slightly at the knees. Looking down, I could see what he meant, but I didn't know what to think. The doctors weren't sure what to think either. I saw plenty of them, and the concensus was that whatever the problem was, my body needed to grow and develop closer to maturity before any surgery could be attempted. Physical therapy was in order until then.

I don't know how many jumping jacks, leg lifts and skips I did over the next four years, but nothing seemed to slow the steady onset of 'Spastic Paraparesis of lower bilateral extremities', which was the medical terminology used to describe the symptoms I was displaying. My condition didn't seem to fit any medical problem the many doctors were familiar with. The loss of strength was similar to polio, but onset is typically a few weeks, not years. The loss of coordination was like muscular dystrophy, but only my legs were affected. Was it cerebral palsy? I exhibited no developmental difficiencies. Multiple sclerosis? I experienced no severe spells followed by slight recoveries, only a steady gradual decline which did not affect the rest of my body (besides, my condition has been stable since I recovered from my last surgery, more on that later). The doctors didn't know what to think.

I knew a few things, though. One of which was the plain fact that as the months and years went on, I was having greater difficulty with walking and keeping my balance. Riding a bicycle was out of the question, soon to be followed by playing sports. Year by year, my legs became more spastic and weaker.

-MADE FUN OF

-TRAINS-MODEL RAILROAD

-SURGERY 1 At age 11, I underwent the first of three surgical operations. The other two were at ages

-TRIED ALCOHOL

-JUNE 1970

-DEEP ANGER AND BITTERNESS

-PARENTS CAN'T DEAL WITH ME

-PSYCHOLOGIST

-DAD, MOM AND JIM

-PSYCHIATRIST

-MEDICATION

-I DON'T WANT IT!

-NO DRUGS (PTL!)

-WHY ME?/CROSS IN LIFE Why had this happened to me, I wondered. The religion I was raised in told me, "Everyone has their cross to bear in life, I guess this is yours." This reply caused me to became angry and bitter toward God.

-SUMMER 1973

-SURGERY 2

-QUIT CATHOLIC CHURCH I quit going to church and began looking for answers elsewhere.

-GOT OUT OF SEEING PSYCHOLOGIST

-BIG TIME ZEPPELIN FAN

-DRINK WHENEVER I COULD GET IT I started drinking when I was a young teenager, looking for any kind of enjoyment out of life.

-SURGERY 3 This time, the doctors wanted to try the same surgery on my hips. I knew this wasn't the problem, I was just bending there to compensate for the spasticity at my knees, so my stance was more normal. I tried telling my Dad this, but he didn't want to listen (he figured the doctors knew better than me; my opinion was never valued). He signed the permission form for the doctors to perform the surgery. It took seven months and all I could muster before I was barely able to recuperate enough to get out of the wheelchair. I have been using crutches to get around ever since.

-NO MORE SURGERY!/NO BALLS? The following summer, the doctors wanted to cut me again, there was no way I was going along with that, I just escaped the wheelchair after the last one. As usual, my Dad wasn't interested in hearing my opinion, and angrily asked, "don't you have anything between your legs?" Great relationship builder!

-1975

-PLAYIN BASS GUITAR

-LED ZEPPELIN PHYSICAL GRAFFITI TOUR

-LED ZEPPELIN IS MY GOD

-answered band member ad - 'into partyin', Joel?' scary!

-JUNE 1976

-START WORKING DOWNTOWN

-SEPTEMBER 1976

-DRINKING/FIRST TIME POT

-1977

-WITCHCRAFT

-CASTINGS SPELLS

-TAROT

-SOCIALIZING-D PUB

-FIRST FRIENDS

-1978

-HEAVY DRINKING/DRUGS This escalated to heavy and near continual use of alcohol and pot, occasional use of acid, uppers and other miscellaneous drugs, and finally to near daily use of coke.

-WHERE'S MY F'N BEER?

-WHERE'S MY F'N PIZZA?

-DON'T BRING HIM BACK HERE AGAIN

-WALK IN FRONT OF TRAFFIC-SLUSHY STREETS

-DECEMBER 1978

-MOVE OUT

-DEALING FOR EXTRA PARTY $

-MICRODOT

-PAUL&KARIN

-DRUNK/HIGH EVERY DAY

-BURNED WITH COOKING OIL

-SPEED FREAK

-WHERE'S THE BAG??!!!

-ROOMIE ARGUMENT, MOVE BACK HOME

-STILL GETTING DRUNK/HIGH EVERY DAY

-STILL DEALING

-APRIL 1979

-LAS VEGAS-LAURA'S BJ

-SEPT 1979

-LUTHERAN GENERAL HOSPITAL/30 DAYS

-SMOKING 3 PACKS A DAY

-21ST BIRTHDAY

-AA 10 MONTHS

-1ST CAR-'80 PONTIAC PHOENIX

-1ST ACCIDENT

-BACK TO THE PARTY

-2ND ACCIDENT-POLICE CHIEF HT-OPIUM

-PORNO MOVIE COLLECTION

-NORTH SIDE PARTIES

-PENTHOUSE FORUM

-PARTYIN' WITH PAUL&KARIN

-LIGHTING/SOUND WITH KENT'S BAND-PAID IN BAR TAB

-IS THIS ALL THERE IS? NEXT KEGGER PARTY?

-3RD ACCIDENT-HIT BUILDING-HIDE THE BONG

-1982

-MICHAEL'S MAGIC TOUCH-DEBBIE

-QUIT DOWNTOWN-GOIN TO ITC

-CHRISTMAS BREAK-DRUNK-TRIP ON PARKING BLOCK

-1983

-MDA

-SPRING 1983-GRAND MAL SEIZURE

-DOWNTOWN DRUNK WITH KEVIN

-TRIP ON CURB

-FALL&SPLIT CHIN

-MERCY HOSPITAL

-KEVIN AND PAM

-13 STITCHES/DOUG WILSON

-AUGUST 1983

-GET JOB AT SENCON

-GRADUATE FROM ITC

-BACK TO LOTS OF GETTING DRUNK/HIGH EVERY DAY

-COCAINE'S THE BIGGIE

-STILL DEALING

-ME & KARIN

-4TH ACCIDENT

-MICHAEL'S MAGIC TOUCH-DAWN

-MICHAEL'S MAGIC TOUCH-APRIL

-MICHAEL'S MAGIC TOUCH-DAWN

-1984

-COLA IS THE BEST

-2ND CAR-'84 CELEBRITY EUROSPORT

-SANDWICH TRIP

-KEVIN AND JOHN

-LYONS PARTYIN'

-70 YR OLD STONERS

-SCARFACE

-MICHAEL'S MAGIC TOUCH-BLACK CHICK

-BASEMENT BAND WITH PAUL Smith

-AUGUST 1984-DRUNK PREACHER

-WITNESS AT WORK But in 1984, Stan Skulemowski, a coworker, told me that "The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy" and that Jesus loved me and came to give me "life, and that more abundantly". Having never heard that before, I began asking Stan more questions.

-QUESTIONS

-MORE QUESTIONS

-MAYBE I'LL COME THIS SUNDAY-TIME?

-DECEMBER 23, 1984-SW COGOP I eventually went to church (for the first time in 12 years), and

-PACKED NOSE

-LIKE STEPPING INTO ANOTHER WORLD

-KID'S CHRISTMAS PROGRAM-GRUMPY BELL

-LOVE

-PEACE INSTEAD OF GUILT

-DEC 29-VERONICA & BOYFRIEND TILL 5AM

-DEC 30-MISSED CHURCH

-STAN & PASTOR LINKOUS PRAYED

-WHY SO BUMMED???

-DEC 31-NEW YEARS PARTY-FIGHTS/COPS Some guy named Dale latched onto Paul, and began glomming the coke we had gone in on together. After a while, I began resenting it, this guy neither me nor Paul knew from Adam, and a bunch of us ended up in a room to talk about it. I eventually tried lunging across the bed to get at this Dale guy, people got between us, and they got him out of there. Then I let Paul know how I felt about this guy who was only interested in mooching of us, and "you don't even know this asshole, why you giving all this coke to him?" We had a few more words, yelled "Fuck you!" at each other, and that was it between us for a while.

I went back downstairs, Dale was gone, and I sat on a couch in the living room, drinking a beer. This couple was in the kitchen, nobody I knew, just kind of talking, when the next thing I know, I hear a smack, and the girl starts crying. He punched his girl in the nose and broke it. The following commotion attracted a lot of attention, and several of the other guys at the party were ready to wail on the guy for hitting his girl like that. He cut out of there when somebody called the police, not wanting to get arrested. The police came, an ambulance came, and checked out the situation. They decided to take the girl into the hospital to fix her nose, and I'll never forget the girl asking after her boyfriend, "is he going with me to the hospital?" Unbelievable! This creep punched her and broke her nose, he obviously treats her like dirt in front of everybody, and she just blindly looks past all that, still looking at him as her loving boyfriend.

I'm just staying on the couch, not wanting to attract any attention to myself, with a switchblade and a gram or so of coke in my pockets. Good grief! What if I end up getting busted, I thought. Will the cops just search everybody, can they do that? At the time and in the condition I was in, I really wasn't sure.

Fortunately, the cops paid no attention to me and left, and things settled down quite a bit after that. As the party wound down, people found places to crash for the night, and I grabbed a couch in the basement.

-1985

-JAN 1-MORNING AFTER PARTY

-HEADING BACK TO PAUL & KARIN'S AFTER PARTY

-DON'T WANT THIS KIND OF LIFE ANY MORE

-JAN 6-BACK AT CHURCH

-JAN 15-8:50PM-JESUS COME INTO MY HEART at the age of 26, gave my heart to the Lord on January 15, 1985.

-JAN 20-WATER BAPTISM

-EARLY FEB-"YOU'RE FATHER'S REALLY DISAPPOINTED"

-FEB 25 TO MAR 1-DENVER TRIP Six weeks later an already scheduled vacation with some old partying friends was on the agenda. Confident that I had a handle on things, I went on the trip to Denver, only to be quickly pushed off track by the enemy.

-WITNESS TO KEVIN

-NOT INTERESTED

-CALL GIRL

-WITNESS TO HER

-MUSHROOMS-'NOT FOR YOU ANYMORE' The final night of the trip, I and another friend took magic mushrooms, a strong hallucenogenic. The drug had no affect on me, though my friend was hallucenating and laughing wildly. I ended up taking three times the amount my friend had, but never 'got off' at all. "This is not for you anymore," the Lord told me.

-MAR 20-WILMINGTON COGOP-BAPTISM OF HOLY GHOST When I returned home and told of my experiences, Wilma Kiszkan, my Sunday school teacher, began urging me to seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit. On March 20, 1985, I received this baptism, and the Holy Spirit empowered me to live the Christian life. The desire for alcohol and drugs was immediately lifted, and in 13 years I have never looked back.

-couldn't care less about drinking/drugs

-chop up porno movie collection with axe-dad bummed

-friends not interested

-bill gothard seminar April 1985

-scripture memorization

-clangy hangers

-deeper and deeper in jesus

-memorizing chapters makes flashbacks fade

-but sex memories won't go away

-talking about drug days makes stoner senses come back-no desire though

-can't believe how sexual fantasy obsessed I was that first year-the Lord is so patient

Seeing the stark contrast between how my life was going before I gave my heart to Him, and experiencing the many wonderful things the Lord has done in my life since then has given me much joy, and confidence in Jesus, to look back over these years and see how He has accomplished His sovereign will for my life. He has used this to build my trust in Him, and to help me to look past the fluctuations of every-day life.

I want to invite you to accept Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. It's a decision you will never regret. To read more about Him, click here!