by Glen Doss, Major –
David Zubiate has no recollection of the last two weeks of his mother’s life.
“She was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13,” he recalls. “In the final stages she was slipping in and out of a coma. The last time it happened, I had just turned 18. It was so devastating to me that I think I blocked it out. My friends say I found her lying on the bed and went running down the street looking for help. One of them helped me put her in the car and drive her to the hospital. Two weeks later, when my uncle called to tell me she passed away, the light turned on again.”
A month after that, David says, “I went to my high school and climbed up in the bleachers. I sat there in total panic; I didn’t know how I was going to make it to the next year. I began to pray, and in that moment God came to me and said, ‘Son, you’re never going to be alone. I’ll always provide for you.’ Over the hard years that followed, David says, “in the back of my mind I knew God was there for me.”
When David, an only child, was four, his father died of wounds incurred in combat in World War II. However, growing up in east Los Angeles, David says, “I always knew I was loved; my Mom was like my best friend. When she passed on, though, I began hanging around people who drank a lot.” David’s drinking quickly escalated, resulting in multiple DUIs (driving under influence).
He was married for a year—“The drinking [that I thought was normal] ruined that.” Taking a job as a building maintenance engineer, he started missing work and in 1987 was laid off. Seeking work as a day laborer, he moved to downtown L.A. One day as he was walking back from the labor hall, a car sped upon the sidewalk and ran over David and three others. Consequently, he was hospitalized for a year with a badly injured leg.
Released as soon as he could get about on crutches, he started drinking heavily again just to dull the pain. The pain persisted, however, until he was “introduced” to heroin. “I became Superman!” David says. “For the first time I felt no pain! I could walk and work again. But I was scared! The drug became my blanket, my crutch; I knew if I let go of it I would fall apart.” To pay for the habit, he says, he began stealing from the company where he was working.
Eventually arrested, David was sentenced to two years in the state penitentiary. Upon his release, he says, he was drawn “like a magnet” back to his old haunts. Arrested and imprisoned again, upon his release this time he vowed to change his way of life. Yet, in short order he was back on the drug. David says, “I was caught up in this downward spiral and couldn’t figure out why.” For the first time, he considered treatment. “I was thinking, ‘I’m going to die if I don’t stop living like this. I’ve got no food, no home, nothing—just drugs and alcohol! God didn’t bring me into the world to exist like this.’ ”
In October 1997, David checked into the Los Angeles Harbor Light. “They accepted me with open arms,” he recalls. “I felt such relief even though I was so sick in detox I couldn’t even move. I was feeling like I was back home, feeling that love, feeling all warm inside.”
Three months into the program, following the Bible studies and much prayer, David remembers, “I was out walking in a lovely, scenic spot, admiring the trees and the sky, thinking, ‘Wow! What a lovely place!’ when it hit me—God did this! God is the answer!” That moment, says David, “I made a commitment to Christ to live a life of service to others the way he did. I was so self-centered all my life, yet I couldn’t see a way out. From that moment I began to experience true bliss, the kind that comes from doing for others without looking for anything in return. I thank God so much for giving me a second chance.”