My Testimony of Jesus ~ Part II

My first clear memory of encountering the Lord Jesus occurred when I was 18 yrs old. That was August 12th, 1991. I remember the date because it was the day we buried my paternal grandfather. There were hundreds of people present at his funeral; I can still clearly see the procession of vehicles that stretched out behind us until they were too distant to see. He was a powerful man in that high desert town in New Mexico. Feared and loved by many, both his enemies and his friends showed up to see him off.

I remember being approached by large men wearing impeccably tailored suits, diamonds glinting from thick fingers and watches that cost more than I made in a year working as a wild land firefighter. Uncles from the Big City. My grandfather’s brothers who lived and worked by a code of honor few understand anymore. Loyalty was everything; it meant a good name could become a great name and the only law that mattered was the law of respect. Earn it, keep it, give it or you don’t exist to these men. Keep pushing and you’ll quickly learn you should have minded your own business.

Of course, I didn’t know all this until years later when I finally heard at least the skeleton of a story right off the silver screen. I won’t bore you with the details but I will tell you that as a young man on that very hot and surreal day in my hometown…both kingdoms crashed into my world and One changed me forever. The kingdom of darkness with, “If you need anything, you let me know. You wanna put in some Work…Money, girls, cars. Wink. Your grandpa wasn’t just my brother, he was a great man and you always have a place with us.”

And the Kingdom of Heaven came to me like this…

I was sitting on one of the fossil-rock walls that criss-cross the landscape of that small desert town, looking out at the mesquite and chaparral. The body of my grandfather was just on the other side of the stucco walls of the mortuary; my thoughts were more focused on the rest of him. Where was he, now? I smoked and tried to wrap my mind around the staggering implications of death. Heaven and hell swirled through my mind, twisting my emotions and I asked God, if He existed, to show me once and for all. Moments later, a sharply dressed man walked up to me, swaggering like a gangster, and introduced himself as my cousin. He had a big mustache and he spoke the way he walked.

He asked permission to share his heart and I agreed, somewhat grateful for the distraction. As he began to tell me about growing up in East L.A….running with a gang, getting locked up for attempted murder…I experienced a strange and very uncomfortable sensation in my chest. My heart seemed to expand and was thundering against my ribcage. Jesus had come into his life and changed him forever, set him free from drugs and gave him a brand new life. His eyes, which had been kind from the beginning of our conversation, took on a Light, unlike anything I had ever seen in my life.

Love. Hope. Peace. Joy. Life. Fire. A second chance; a way to get free from the entanglements of selling drugs, constantly looking over my shoulder for the next dude trying to come up in the local drug scene. An overwhelming sense of shame and guilt.

By the time my cousin asked me if I wanted to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, I was vibrating from the power that was coursing through my whole body. I nodded and his voice shaking, he led me into the presence of the King. With each word that left my lips, I became incrementally more free. Great Hands of Fire reached into my heart and moved stuff around, pulling out and putting in. My whole world turned upside down in a blinding flash. The previous three years had been violently spent in the quiet destruction of my own life and the loud destruction of the lives of others. Now, suddenly, I was free. The crushing guilt, tightly coiled rage and suffocating loneliness were gone.

Peace. Beyond anything I had ever imagined was possible, PEACE.

Be Blessed!