Jake Scott spent years hiding from God, living under a veil of darkness and trying to escape the guilt and shame of his past. Convinced that his sins were unforgivable and that God couldn’t love him, he chose to renounce Christianity and embrace a chaotic lifestyle that included both heavy drug use and the hard work of achieving financial success. But even though Jake was hiding from God (had stopped believing in God), God was pursuing Jake’s heart with His unconditional love. Read Jake’s story to see how the love of God outran Jake’s attempts to evade Him. The light of Jesus Christ broke in to overcome the darkness, shattering the lies Jake had believed and overwhelming him with grace that was greater than all his sins.
Jake: I grew up in Cody, was raised in the church. My parents remember that I believed in Jesus and was saved at age five or six, but I don’t have the memory of that. I do remember that I was afraid of hell, afraid of dying. I would pray nightly for salvation. I knew everything about what it meant to be saved, but those nightly prayers were more about my fear than about my love for God.
Jake was exposed to pornography while still in middle school, and that exposure influenced his thought patterns. He also began to access music in secret – music with adult themes that his parents didn’t allow at home. Wanting to fit in, and beginning to catch ridicule for his church-going, Jake embraced a dual lifestyle where he acted one way at home and another when he was with his friends.
At age thirteen, I committed a sexual sin that was overwhelming to me. It brought on enormous guilt and shame. I wanted to push the memories and the guilt away.
At that point, Jake turned to drugs and alcohol, finding a measure of solace in partying. Throughout his teen years, he also maintained a strong academic and athletic profile, and he played on the church worship team. But, during his freshman year of college, the maintenance of his dual life proved impossible.
I went to UW, and I struggled. I just partied, and I was on academic probation. I was questioning everything. That year included suicidal thoughts, a purposeful drug overdose, and cutting myself. I was using heavier drugs, and I was pretty desperate.
Eventually, Jake ended up back home in Cody, ensconced in the chaos of the local drug scene and working to support his habits. In a final attempt at reaching out for God, he traveled with extended family to a charismatic conference in Canada where he witnessed signs and wonders. Asking God for a sign – some tangible movement of the Holy Spirit, he received none. So, Jake chose to believe that Christianity was a farce. Everything he had grown up believing seemed false, and, at age 20, Jake renounced Christianity.
I continued using drugs, including psychedelic drugs. My girlfriend got pregnant, and Wesley was born – a miracle. His mother and I got married. The marriage didn’t last long, and I ended up living with Wesley in Laramie. We had a rough six months of struggling to get by, and then I was invited by some friends in Colorado to come live there and sell drugs. We went, and I started to make a lot of money. One of the things I enjoyed was eating out in upscale restaurants and experiencing new foods. I decided to go to culinary school while continuing to grow and sell weed as my source of income. But things fell apart for a while; I lost a lot of money. I ended up bringing Wesley’s mom back to help care for him, and that relationship was rough. During those two years of culinary school, our relationship was abusive, and I was living on cocaine in order to be able to work 18-hour days and stay afloat.
There was a lot of change and healing during that time. Sobriety was a process, but coming out from under my drug addiction was like this weight of darkness and oppression was just lifted. There had been a heaviness on me for so many years, and now there was this lightness of walking in forgiveness. But not everything changed at once.
During that time, two more sweet boys arrived: Frankie and George. While Jake loved his three boys and was committed to providing amply for them, he recalls that his job, his friends, and his drug habit were all more important to him than being with his family. Work opportunities took Jake first to Red Lodge and then back to Cody, where he eventually opened his own restaurant. Although his lifestyle slowly simmered to a less roiling sort of chaos, Jake still found himself filling the voids in his life with drugs. It had been more than fifteen years since he had lived in sobriety, and the patterns and addictions were ingrained. And although Jake and the boys’ mother were still co-sharing the tasks of parenting and providing for the boys, that relationship was messy and fraught with tension.
Porter came to work at The Local (the restaurant where I was the chef) and we became friends. In our conversations, Porter talked about her relationship with God. Even though I was far from God at that point, I listened. I was searching for truth, but my understanding of what was real and true had been shaped by experiencing these alternate realities through drugs for so long. I started praying for a few people and for truth, maybe sort of testing God. I watched a friend’s dad be miraculously healed from his deathbed, and that really stimulated my search for God.
Jake chose to leave the successful restaurant business in order to assume full custody of the boys (ages 3, 4 and 8) while their mother moved out of the state. Porter and Jake were dating, and she began to be involved in the boys’ lives. Jake made a decision to change his life and “take hold” of his boys’ upbringing. He began working in construction with his brother Matt, who was a believer. With Matt’s encouragement, he stopped using drugs, and began attending church with his family. Challenged by heartfelt preaching that spoke of genuine life change, Jake started to seek reconciliation in many of his relationships. He began to deal with the sins of his past, including the sexual sin he had committed as a young teen. After a year of the Lord’s gentle nudging, Jake surrendered his life to Christ while at a men’s retreat.
There was a lot of change and healing during that time. Sobriety was a process, but coming out from under my drug addiction was like this weight of darkness and oppression was just lifted. There had been a heaviness on me for so many years, and now there was this lightness of walking in forgiveness. But not everything changed at once. There were still things I was dealing with, hidden things. Porter and I got married. We started our catering business and I was playing on the worship team at church again. But stress mounted and soon I was drinking again behind closed doors. As I was beginning to understand for the first time that I was a beloved child of God, I also realized that I still needed the healing work of confession and forgiveness in my life. I still harbored secret guilt over my past sins, I was still selling weed because I didn’t trust God with my finances, and I was still dealing with alcoholism.
God nudged Jake towards the freedom of confession. He began to share the things he had kept secret for so long, first with Pastor Greg, then with Porter, and eventually with others in his close circle. In his weakness and vulnerability, Jake received kindness, caring, love and acceptance from others.
I was broken and humble. Poor in spirit. I was so tired of wrestling and hiding. And when I came out of hiding, I experienced so much lightness. There was a complete freedom from fear that I had never known in my life. I knew that God loved me. Regardless of what I had done in my life, He just loved me. No matter what my path had been, no matter how long I had hidden from His love, He loved me. And He would give me strength to walk in obedience to Him.
As Jake learned to walk in newfound freedom with Christ, the Lord began to use his story to touch and encourage others. He started serving as a worship leader at Outpost and living the core values of devoting daily, living authentically and counseling others biblically. As he has grown in his own walk with the Lord, his heart is to show others the unconditional love of God – a love that our sin cannot separate us from.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.