Into the Hands of the Living God
My name is Jerry Cesario and this is my personal testimony. Ihope that you will be blessed to see that God is truly in control of our lives,however if you do not know Jesus Christ personally, I hope this will give you adesire to do so. I was born and raised in Southern California and when I wasabout five years old, my mother became a born again Christian during the"Jesus Movement" of the sixties. From that time on I was part of herchurch and every time the doors swung open (it was a verylegalistic/Pentecostal church), there we were. This went on for many yearsand as I grew older the appeal of Christianity began to wear off, that is if Ihad ever really understood it to begin with.
When I was about ten years old my mother sent me to theSalvation Army summer camp up in the Malibu Mountains. After a week of games,swimming in the pool, hiking and nightly campfire sing-a-longs, I said the"Sinner’s Prayer" at the Sunday service on the last day. As aten-year-old child I did not truly grasp it, but God would prove himselffaithful nonetheless. However, as the following years would come and go, theenemy would come in and snatch the seed from the wayside in an attempt todestroy my act of faith upon that day.
I was constantly teased, berated and physically beaten by theother kids at school, all the while being told that "God was incontrol" by zealous preachers that ran the church I attended with my mom.Next, as my teenage years descended upon me, the real attack of Satan would comein a full-frontal assault of sex, drugs and other assorted shenanigans. Mymother, a single mom raising two kids, did not know how to deal with the changesthat came with my physical maturation. It was always, "NO, NO, NO!"without any real explanation of why or the idea of a consequence of sin. Inorder to best deal with her, and my religious upbringing, I did what seemed atthe time to be the right thing to do; I ran away from home and immersed myselfin a world of sinful pleasures that seemed to constantly be at my fingertips andin turn, like the forbidden fruit, easily lifted to my mouth. When I was aboutnineteen, the party came to an abrupt end one night just after Christmas in1985.
On that fateful night my friends and I had the brilliant ideato go to our favorite place, a storm drain in Palos Verdes, Ca. called the AcidTunnel. This was a underground runoff tunnel about six feet in diameter, thatran for about 500 yards to the ocean; the perfect place to smoke dope and makeMolotov cocktails just for fun. As you can imagine, the combination of drugs,gasoline and fire was not optimal for safety and in a moment of sheerstupidity, my petrol-soaked glove came in contact with one of the candles we hadfor light. Needless to say, the next few days were well spent in the localcounty hospital, having received 2nd and 3rd degree burnsto my right hand that completely fused the tendons and fluid from the knucklesinto a crumpled, deformed claw. Now high on painkillers and contemplating myfuture, which I had been informed, would involve years of plastic surgery andphysical therapy, I began to hear the still small voice of the Lord gentlycalling me home.
I would lie in bed at night and hear Him softly plead with meto come home to him. I can actually even remember one night asking him not tocome back until I was saved (even then I just knew that His return was near).I pleaded with him to give me time, but I convinced myself that there was stillsome fun to be had and that I would ‘pray’ if something happened that wouldtake my life. About two weeks later, as I went for my first plastic surgeryconsult, I was not prepared for what happened next.
When the doctor unwrapped my hand to get a look at it, he wasperplexed by what he saw. My hand, aside from some stiffness after beingimmobile for 2 weeks, was completely healed! He looked at my hand, then at mychart, then at my hand again. Then he went to get the attending physician (andother assorted interns), who in turn all looked at my hand, then at the chart,then at my hand again. As the doctor wrapped my hand again and mutteredsomething like, "Come back in two weeks so we can check your progress…"It never occurred to me that God had something to do with it and of course witha close call now safely behind me, I went about looking for some more fun.
About a month later, without a care in the world, smokingdope everyday, I had my next encounter with the God who saves, but willnot be mocked. I was sitting in a car with my 2 friends and my latest femalecompanion and you guessed it, smoking a joint (imagine that!). I happened tolook up in the sky and I noticed a couple of jet plumes going up and across theblue sky. It just looked odd for some reason and I asked my friend to look atit. He did and in a very calm voice he said, "Oh my God…there theygo." I inquired as to what "they" were. He said they wereMinuteman missiles on their way to Russia and that WWIII had started. I felt thedistinct taste of metal in my mouth that comes with total and complete paralysisand fear. After all, here it was, that fateful day of all out nuclearannihilation that the 80’s had brought via the media and motion pictures onthe subject. I was about to die and every fiber of my being knew it.
After about one minute of pulling my leg and scaring me todeath, and subsequently 10 minutes of trying to convince me that they werekidding, my friends figured I was just really high. However, the still smallvoice was back and these words will ring in my head as long as I draw breath;"So Jerry, I thought you were going to pray and ‘get saved’ if you knewyou were about to die?" I was stunned and silenced by the words of God andconfronted with the horrible truth that indeed, prayer and salvation did noteven cross my mind during the perceived nuclear holocaust. However, in anattempt to be as stubborn and stupid as anyone ensnared in his or hersins can be, I held onto my pitiful life as if I would remember to pray…nexttime.
Well, they say that the third time is a charm and it onlytook about two or three days to find myself in a Laundromat with my two friends;doing laundry and smoking a bowl. This was the night that changed my lifeforever, but the preceding events were instrumental in God’s sovereign plan tobring this prodigal home. While sitting in my friend’s car reading a Playboy(ok, I wasn’t really reading it) and waiting for the wash cycle tofinish, that little voice began to invade my hardened heart and mind. This timewas different though; it was very loud and clear, almost audible. I wasnot ignorant either; I knew that it was God.
He began to tell me that he was coming soon and that I wasnot ready to meet him. I tried to block him out, but that was clearly not goingto work this time. I tried to plead for more time in my sins with the promise ofcoming back soon. Again, this was not working. I remember when it was time to goput the laundry in the dryer that I felt like the whole universe was going toexplode if I stepped out of the car without submitting to God. I wasparalyzed with fear (again), but for some reason I dug in my heels andclimbed out. Nothing happened. I shrugged it off as just being high and wentinside.
Once inside the Laundromat God began to speak again, onlythis time it was different; it was final and I knew it. He pleaded with me tocome home and I kept giving him excuses; each one countered by a knife of Truthto my heart. I remember clearly the final dialogue that we shared that night. Hespoke and it was the last revelation that closed the deal. But first, in whatwas to prove to be absolute truth for those who know me today, he said,"I love you and I have a specific plan for your life Jerry." Ipainfully recounted my legalistic and super Pentecostal upbringing and quitehonestly told him, "I don’t want all that junk. I can’t handle theconfusion and nonsense that I grew up with Lord." He lovingly made thispromise to me, which has been my guideline throughout my walk with him. He said,"I promise that what I am calling you to, is not what you grew upwith."
He had clearly gotten my attention now and I was stunned,however I still had to throw my last dying excuse at him. "Please Lord,just a little more time…" With that said, as God is my witness, I thenfelt in my minds eye something very similar to the images of movies like theMatrix and such. I was standing with my back towards a great chasm and it was asthough God were holding me by the front of my shirt. I could see and feel flamesof fire around me and I knew that eternal pain and total blackness were only arelease of the hand away. Then He spoke these words that shook me to my core,"I love you Jerry. I always have and I always will, but I must tellyou this. My hand of protection is leaving you this night."
With those words I was broken in half, I could feel thepaleness of death enclosing in on me and I knew beyond any doubt that He was nolonger playing along in my little games. With the last bit of strength left inmy pitiful soul, I simply bowed my head and in turn my stubborn will and utteredthese four simple words, "Yes Lord. I’m sorry." Immediately I was soberand I knew that my life had just been changed. I felt like everything was aliveand vibrant around me and I began to tell my friends that they needed to ‘getsaved’ (To this day, most of my old friends and some of my enemies still thinkthat I just flipped out on drugs and became a Jesus Freak). I also knew that Ino longer belonged in the world and I needed to get home and into church.
I didn’t think my friend could fold his laundry fastenough, and I’m sure with the Bible verses I was spouting off, he was thinkingthe same thing, but eventually I made it home. My mother was watching T.V and Icame in and told here that I needed to talk to her. I was nervous and pacing theliving room and she asked me if I had gotten someone pregnant and when I saidno, she asked me if I was gay. I told her what had happened to me and sheimmediately pulled out the Bible and read me this verse from Hebrews 10:31…
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of theliving God."
Indeed, I had just discovered how very true this living Wordwas. She then read me plenty of verses about salvation and led me in a moretraditional sinner’s prayer, in which I eagerly repeated, however I do believethat my salvation was secured with the simple words of repentance in theLaundromat about an hour before. This was on a Thursday night and I could notwait to get to church for the Friday night service, where of course I prayedthat prayer once again. In fact, I think I even prayed it again at the Sundayservice too.
So there you have it, the story of a stubborn teenager whoran from God and even tried to withstand Him and barter for more time to enjoythe pleasures of sin even though the season had long passed the time of any realjoy. I have left out the gory details of my years in sin (extreme sexualindulgence, heavy drug use and weapons related violence) in order to get themain point across. Was I going to die that night if I did not accept Him? I donot know, but recently I have realized something rather profound. I very wellmay have perished in my sins that night, however…I may have lived a full lifewithout ever hearing his voice again only to find myself on my deathbed manyyears from now cursing the very God who had pursued me during the day ofsalvation. Of course nowadays I can analyze this testimony a hundred differentways and give you all the Scriptures that back it up. (Jude 21-23 fits quitewell), but that really does not matter. The question is; are you stillrunning from God and the salvation that He is offering you?
You see I am in no way unique. I put my pants on one leg at atime just like you and as far as I know, God had no obligation to interfere withmy life during that season. However the only difference is that I bowed my willand said "Yes Lord. I’m sorry" and I made a conscious decision toplace my life in to His hands. The same hands of the living God that filled mewith terror at the prospect of being let go are the very hands that snatched meout of Hell and are holding me secure until his son Jesus Christ returns. Willyou fall into those hands today? Or will you wait until it is too late and slipout of them forever? If you are ready to make the decision to bow your will toChrist today, just between you and God, say these words, "Yes Lord. I’msorry."
Please feel free to emailme or visit my website, AStudy of Revelation.