God is merciful
My dad had a severe speech impediment. His most notable achievement in
life was being a member of the Hell's Angels in the late 1950's. He
eventually died inside his van while parked on a roadside after drowning
on his own vomit. He was 42 years old when he died.
My mom had her demons as well. She ran away from home at a very young
age, and was raped at the age of 13. She had her first child at the age
of fifteen. Her life became patterned upon numerous broken
relationships, alcohol abuse, drug overdoses and numerous suicide attempts. She
died at the age of 61 as a result of end stage lung and liver disease.
It was not uncommon to be taunted in school as a result of my mom's
lifestyle. In spite of that, I gave my life to Christ at a very young
age. I did my best at keeping as close to God as possible throughout a
childhood of upheaval. I learned to pray but I never really dedicated
myself to studying the Bible in great detail. I never became involved in
any type of Christian youth group at more than just a superficial
level. As a result of that lack of focus I never looked for help when I
really needed it. I endured to the age of 15 before self-destructing.
Eventually I gave up on my Christian walk and began to emulate the
lifestyle that surrounded me. I began drinking, smoking pot, "spending
time" with as many young ladies as possible and getting into trouble. By
the age of 16 I was arrested for stealing a truck and was convicted for
joyriding. At the age of 17, I was arrested for possession of less than
an ounce of marijuana. Shortly thereafter I began taking multiple hits
of LSD. I eventually took so much of it that I lost track of fact from
fiction; of fantasy from reality.
While I was still 17, I began driving a couple of people I knew to and
from houses where they entered them and took whatever guns that they
could find. Nine days after my eighteenth birthday I was arrested for
that activity. I lived by the code and took the rap, allowing my
accomplices to go free. I was extremely fortunate not to do state time.
Throughout the next seven years, I was arrested 15 more times as a
result of alcohol and substance abuse. The drunk tank truly became my
friend. By the time I was 19 I had discovered the drug crystal
methamphetamine. I began drinking even more heavily.
Three months after my 22nd birthday I was riding on the hood of a car
(car surfing) with several of my friends and a couple of young ladies we
had met while at the county fair. I had taken a considerable amount of
cross-tops, a form of speed, and had spent a long evening drinking beer
and half of a fifth of Jim Beam.
The driver of the car we were riding on swerved. I fell off the car,
cracking my head on the pavement in the process. I was drug underneath
the car embedding skin and denim into the highway for approximately 14
feet before clearing the underside of it. As the driver was backing up to
find me, he accidentally ran over me again. The driver of the car took
off to notify the Lucerne Valley Fire Department of my current state of
affairs and hid in a motel room, not sure of what to do next.
The fire department began searching for us, but unfortunately it was on
the mountain several miles below. Eventually, a lady in a green station
wagon pulled over and I was quickly thrown into the back of it. The
anonymous lady only known as "Mountain 4" began hailing the fire
department below us on her CB radio. The fire department and "Mountain 4"
eventually met up with each other, and I was transported to St. Mary's Desert
Valley Hospital in Apple Valley.
Upon arrival at the emergency room at St. Mary's the physician on duty
placed a chest tube in the right side of my chest. Dr. Thomas visibly
paled as bright red blood began gushing out of the chest tube.
Later that evening as I was being wheeled to the operating room, Dr.
Su, the surgeon on duty somberly advised me of my chances of survival.
Dr. Su told me "I don't think I can save you young man! You had better
make your peace with God!"
I went into emergency surgery that evening without much hope for
survival. I can not adequately describe what it felt like to not have any
time to say goodbye to family or friends. I had only enough time to say a
quick prayer for mercy before slipping into an anesthetically induced
My liver had been lacerated, my spleen and bladder had been ruptured
and my pelvis had been shattered. The skin on my knees and the palm of my
left hand had been ground completely away as the result of being grated
into the rough asphalt of Highway 18.
But miraculously I survived, and was flown to Loma Linda University
Medical Center as a result of suffering a closed head injury. As I was
being taken out to the transport helicopter, I had just enough time to see
all my friends and family who had gathered in the waiting room.
The flight for life team told me “Wave goodbye, because this might be
the last time you see them!”
Later as neurosurgeons were evacuating the subdural hematoma on the
left side of my head they found an old head injury caused by a fight I had
been in on my 22nd birthday. They evacuated it as well.
After spending five days in a coma I spent three months at Loma Linda,
and I had to undergo three more surgeries while a patient there. During
that time I had six chest tubes placed in the right side of my chest,
three at one time on one occasion. On another occasion one of them was
inserted into my chest and pushed through my diaphragm to drain a
massive infection that had formed there. I had a piece of rib removed from my
back and dressing pushed in between my ribs and my lungs daily. I am
certain that my screams were heard on the other side of the hospital when
this was done. I was not given much hope for survival, and if I
survived, I was not supposed to exist in nothing more than a vegetative state.
After I came out of a five day coma, I was not given much hope to walk
again. I was not supposed to be able to have children for that matter
None of those predictions came true, but I presently endure paralysis
of the right side of my diaphragm, a permanent limp and chronic pain as
a result of this accident. I was a seasonal firefighter with the U.S.
Forest Service, and would have to give up my aspirations of working for
them year round.
As I was being released, I was warned not to drink again.
But even though this accident maimed me for life, barely able to walk I
celebrated my release from Loma Linda later that evening by cracking a
couple of Rainier Ale's with some friends who lived down the street.
Three months later I was involved in another car accident in Newhall
California after the driver of the vehicle I was in fell asleep at the
wheel. As the car ricocheted off of a couple of guardrails, the
passenger door of the vehicle flew open and once again I was pitched head
first out toward the asphalt.
The driver of the vehicle grabbed me at the last moment and pulled me
back into the car as it came to a rest. I suffered a severe case of
whiplash, but once again had been spared death.
I continued on with this lifestyle for three more years, falling in and
out of trouble because of it. I even began experiementing with heroin
to gain a brief respite from chronic pain.
After narrowly escaping a couple of drug related convictions I realized
that I had been thrown more than my share of lifelines. The endless
downward spiral of self-destruction began to erode away any false sense of
control I might of had. I slowly began to admit my life was beyond my
own recovery. As I reflected on my life, I began to come to terms with
the shame of wasting God's purpose for my life.
So as I lay in bed one evening I began to pray for God's mercy.
I can honestly testify that God reached down that evening, took firm
hold of me and shook me from my slumber.
I found myself looking down at a poor, pathetic lonely old man on the
brink of death with nothing to hope for. I jumped with shock at the
realization that I was not just looking at any old man, I was in fact
actually looking down at myself. As I tried to blink away the disbelief of
this moment it also became apparent to me that this was the way other
people currently saw me as well.
The anguish of the moment was almost too much to bear. It was as if an
arrow had been shot through my heart and had pierced the depths of my
soul. I became convinced that my life had to change.
As I chose to walk away from the element of drugs and alcohol, the
reaction of my "friends" to that change occasionally became violent.
The front door of my apartment was completely ripped off its hinges and
thrown out into the driveway on one occasion. But my determination had
become resolute. I knew that I would be in a better place once I had
completed my journey through the refining fire of rejection.
With friends like mine, who needed enemies anyways?
I began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and as time passed, I
received my 30 day sobriety pin. Eventually I would receive my 90 day
sobriety pin as well. But even though I should have been proud, I could
not ignore the fact something was still seriously missing. The
“serenity” of my sobriety was not the final solution. I still had that
“hole” in my heart longing to be filled. For ten years I had attempted
to fill it with drugs and alcohol; but now the pain of that emptiness
was free to burn away at will.
I could no longer deny the obvious. I had another purpose to life other
that to just remain clean and sober. As a result, I began to search for
something more. I began to listen to a local Christian radio station,
and as I listened in, certain verses seemed to reach out to me
Romans 5:8 - … God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us.
2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but
that all should come to repentance.
Romans 10:13 - For whoever (whoever) calls on the name of the Lord
shall be saved.
Just as a long distance runner gains their second wind, I began to
spiritually reawaken. In that process of reawakening, I slowly began coming
to the following conclusion. God never gave up on me; I had given up on
Him and by doing so, I had given up on myself.
I thought to myself "If God has room enough to love me, he can love
So on December 21st. 1985, I walked down to the intersection of Apple
Valley Road and Highway 18, threw away my last pack of cigarettes and
began hitchhiking down to the New Life Chapel just off Navajo Road. On
that day, I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, asking Him for
forgiveness for my sins. As a result, I honestly felt an immediate release from
the burden of sin, and the burning emptiness that I had been feeling
became immediately filled with God’s love and forgiveness.
Back then, a respiratory therapist who knew of my life experiences in
regards to my chest injuries had frequently encouraged me to pursue his
field as a profession. But because of the lifestyle I had recently
surfaced out of, I was skeptical of ever achieving that goal. This was
compounded by the fact that the respiratory therapy program was going to
inquire about my past.
I began praying for direction; and you know, God gave me the strength
to talk to the program director?
My confession didn't even faze him.
"So?" he said nonchalantly.
"You mean I still can enter the program?"
He told me "Yes! Of course you can enter the program! Congratulations!"
My jaw must have hit the floor. God had opened the doors of possibility
in my life, and I was completely thunderstruck.
As the fall semester began, I met a beautiful looking blonde with blue
eyes and a captivating smile that was enrolled in the respiratory
therapy program as well. She only lived a few blocks away from where I was
staying, so we began carpooling to classes together. We began going out
on dinner and movie dates, and on January 10th, 1987 Randi and I were
married in a small church in San Bernardino California. We celebrated
our marriage later that evening by going out to dinner at the Del Taco on
Seventh Street in Victorville. We were poor college students, but life
could not have been better than at that moment.
In the spring of 1988 I petitioned the Victorville Superior Court to
have the conviction rendered against me when I was 18 erased from my
records. I was surprised when it took all of about 30 seconds for the judge
presiding over my case to do just that. I walked out of Superior Court
that day free from the sanctions that had been imposed on me for the
past 10 years.
Then on May 7th, 1988, Randi delivered our son, Vance II. Let me tell
you that this in fact was the greatest miracle of all.
I currently hold state licensure to practice respiratory therapy in the
State of Colorado. Previously I held licensure in the state of
California as well. I have been honest and forthright about my past when
applying for licensure, and even though the standards are very strict I have
never been denied it. I have been in the respiratory therapy profession
for the past 17 years. Although the pay is modest, the rewards for
serving the community are undeniably a blessing.
You see, God truly is a god of miracles.
What I once thought of as a curse I now recognize as a blessing. I was
made to be obsessive a reason, and it wasn't to do so over drugs,
alcohol or even women for that matter. I was made to obsess over God.
Without Him, nothing else matters.
There are life choices and the consequences that occur because of those
choices. Smart choices are not necessarily the easy or fast ones. I
encourage you to make the smart choices.
If you feel as if you are beyond the point of salvation, I want to tell
you that God never gave up on me, and He certainly will never give up
on you either. No matter how far down you are in life, God is willing to
meet you there and bring you out.
You see, in spite of what your parents do, you still get to choose your
own destiny. Or as a good friend of mine likes to say, "You get to
choose your own adventure book."
Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Don't be too embarrassed to talk
Psalms 18:16-17 (NIV) He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
May God receive all the glory for His love, His compassion and His
longsuffering quest to rescue us all out of our own deep waters.
Testimony submitted to the Breadsite. To submit yours click here.