Landon Miller is done digging for nothing.
After he quit drugs and alcohol cold turkey, his friends didn’t believe him when he told them he didn’t want to party anymore.
“Some people were like, ‘Are you dumb? OK, come over, we can party tomorrow then,’” said Miller, 17. “I’m like, ‘It’s not just a today thing. It’s my life now.’ So definitely there was a lot of shock and confusion just because of the zero to 100 turnaround.”
“Landon took on a serious relationship with Jesus and all that comes with it so quickly that it felt like a character out of the Gospels,” added Cambron Rich, a Southeast Christian Church community pastor. “It’s been fun to watch him step in and connect, grow and serve and not look back.”
Miller, who is about to start his senior year at duPont Manual High School, began experimenting with drugs and alcohol with his friends.
“When you get used to that type of stuff, you feel like that’s the only thing that gives you happiness and satisfaction, so you just keep doing it over and over again,” Miller said. “That was my peak happiness when I was doing that stuff with my friends. That’s what I looked forward to and lived for in that moment. That was my highest moment, which turned out to be my lowest moment.”
There is no comparison between a life in Christ and a life of addiction.
“At that time, I was living the good life and I had that stuff, but now that I’ve experienced freedom and peace through Jesus, it’s just a total reckless way of living,” Miller added. “I don’t think it was a waste because I wouldn’t be where I am in my faith. I’m glad it happened because I can relate and talk to other people who have a similar story.”
Miller grew up attending Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus, but things changed after middle school.
“We were just a regular family that goes to church every Sunday, but wasn’t really too involved,” Miller said. “It was like that all the way until high school … It wasn’t cool to go to church when you’re 14 or 15. If my parents made me go to church with them, I wouldn’t pay attention. I never really had a relationship with God.”
Since going to church had no effect on Miller, he looked for other things to fill the emptiness he felt.
“Drugs are everywhere nowadays,” Miller said. “You can go to any school or neighborhood and find whatever you want. My sophomore year, I did it every day sometimes.”
Miller’s grades went down drastically. He said his parents didn’t trust him and tried to keep tabs on his whereabouts.
“I would live a double life, where on Saturday I would go hang out with friends, smoke or do drugs and then on Sunday I would go to church and be a good kid with my parents,” he said.
Bible & Beach
Miller begrudgingly went to Bible & Beach the summer before his junior year.
He took drugs the day before he left for Southeast’s weeklong conference for high school students.
“I think my mom just signed me up and said, ‘You’re going.’ I wasn’t too excited about it, but I figured it was a week on the beach, and I could just do my thing,” Miller said. “I went and I wasn’t looking to get much out of it. I was in a dark place emotionally and mentally.”
Miller said he didn’t get much out of the conference until Southeast Associate Pastor Matt Reagan delivered the final sermon of the week.
“He just asked us to get on our knees and talk to God,” Miller said. “That was the first time I realized I needed some more help than what I was getting. I actually wanted to hear from God and have a relationship with Him. In that moment, God spoke to me. He told me I’ve been looking for answers in all the wrong places when He was right there the whole time.”
Almost a year later, Miller has truly tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
“The drug lifestyle was sad, depressing, and I wasn’t living,” he said. “You’re just going through life. You feel like you don’t have a purpose or point to every day. Whereas this life you wake up every day, choose God, and you’re living for Him to bring Him glory. You definitely have purpose and worth.”
Back to the suburbs
Miller rode a spiritual high for the first two weeks following Bible & Beach, but soon discovered following Christ is more than a feeling.
“Just because of the environment that Bible & Beach creates, like thousands of high schoolers worshiping in that room—it’s kind of impossible not to feel moved into something,” Miller said. “After that, it was definitely hard, but I had God. I got through it because of Him. Once I got back to my normal life—headed home, not around all the kids and Bible & Beach—I started to realize it’s going to take work and certain things are going to have to change. I thought my fire would burn out, but I knew it wouldn’t end because Jesus was right there with me.”
This past year, Miller has experienced exponential growth in Christ.
He leads a Middle School Ministry small group, serves in High School Ministry, leads Fellowship of Christian Athletes at his school and hangs out with a child with disabilities through Best Buddies.
Rich has discipled Miller with a small group of other guys.
“His commitment to making disciples like Jesus inspires me as a pastor” Rich said.