Christina Baker’s Testimony…
From Hope in 60 Seconds
by Christina Baker
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.
— Psalm 139:7–10
I’M NOT SURE HOW MUCH TIME HAD GONE BY BEFORE
I noticed the red and blue lights flashing behind me. My first thought was, Why am I getting pulled over? followed quickly by, I have drugs in the car; what am I going to do!
I tried to get rid of the pot I was smoking before I pulled the car over into the parking lot of a bank.
I had just gotten off work at the university and was making a quick stop at my dealer’s house before going home.
The officer came up to the driver’s side, and I lowered my window, just a crack.
Smoke from the weed seeped out of the open window into the officer’s face. It was unmistakable. “What’s the problem, Officer?” I asked.
“Ma’am, your registration is expired. Are you aware of that?” “Nope.”
It was the truth. I was forgetting a lot of things lately; paying my bills was the last thing on my mind.
He could tell I was high. “Ma’am, I’m going to ask you to step out of the vehicle.”
“Officer, why? What did I do?” I asked him.
“Here’s my license,” and I started looking through my purse.
“Step out of the vehicle, ma’am.” I opened the door, and more smoke came out.
“Why are you pulling me over, Officer?”
I asked again as I stepped out of the car. “Ma’am, put your hands behind your back,” he said firmly.
“Why? What’s going on?”
“You’re under arrest.” He put me in handcuffs, then walked me back to his cruiser.
He opened the back door and gestured me inside.
I’d had many close calls before, but this was the first time I’d been caught.
The police had stopped me before and searched my car, but I had somehow managed to throw all the drugs out the window before getting pulled over.
The officers had searched the whole car but found nothing and had to let me go.
After that, I felt untouchable. I was sure the officer would release me at any moment.
“Is there anything in the vehicle I need to know about?” he asked. “Nope,” I lied.
I wasn’t belligerent; I was just playing the fool. I knew better than to admit any guilt whatsoever.
He walked back to my car, and I leaned over to watch him through the windshield.
I saw him pull out my purse from between the front seats. The drugs were in plain sight, along with other drug paraphernalia.
I had at least a half dozen prescription bottles in there, some with the labels ripped off, all full of pills I had obtained from several doctors and pharmacies all over town.
He walked back to the cruiser—his hands holding prescription bottles, a bong, and the drugs he found in my purse—then placed everything on the hood of the car.
Looking at me from outside the police car, he said, “Miss Cabrera, do you know why you are going to jail tonight?”
“Nope.” Still playing the fool. Still feeling untouchable.
“Okay, then.” He got into the front seat, closed the door, and began writing up the report.
“Am I really going to jail?” “Yes, ma’am,” he replied without even giving me a glance, “you are really going to jail.”
The handcuffs dug into my wrists. Suddenly, I no longer felt untouchable.
There was no getting out of it this time. He had found everything.
The jig was up. I felt a surge of anger. I looked up and prayed what may have been my first “prayer.”
“Why are You doing this to me?”
Like my father, I was a self-proclaimed atheist, but even as I sat in the back of the police car, it was as if I had this sense that I wasn’t alone.
I blamed God. Even acknowledging Him was something new.
What have I ever done? I said silently,
Who will take care of my son?
I was breaking. I had just been arrested for driving high with drugs in my car, but I was the victim.
I blamed God for all of it—everything bad I had ever gone through raced through my mind, a litany of punishments He’d given me.
This is all Your fault.
Except, I didn’t believe God existed. Did I?
“You are putting me through something else,” I whispered to, well, to whatever was out there listening.
We drove in silence. Occasionally, a noise would come over the radio, and the sound would make me jump, but the officer said nothing.
It was a clear but very humid night as we drove along a remote, dark road in Houston, Texas.
I felt the cruiser slow down and pull to the shoulder, then stop.
Now I was scared. I was still high, and I had no idea why we had stopped in the middle of nowhere with no one around.
The officer got out, opened my door, and said, “Who do you want to call to let them know you are going to jail?”
“My mom,” I blurted out.
Evan was with my mom. She took care of him while I was at work.
The officer had possession of my cell phone along with everything else.
He opened my flip phone, looked for my mom’s name, typed it into his phone, then dialed her number.
He let me lean outside the car, and he put his phone on speaker.
It was a little after midnight. My mind flashed back to earlier that morning when my mom had told me,
“Cristina, I have a bad feeling; please don’t go anywhere this evening.”
As usual, I ignored her, but now she was about to get a call from a police officer in the middle of the night.
Every parent’s worst nightmare. My mom answered. “Hello?”
“Good evening, ma’am. This is Officer Jackson. I have Cristina here with me, and I wanted to let you know that your daughter will be going to jail tonight.”
My mom let out a cry I will never forget.
Pure anguish. He positioned the phone near me.
“Mom?” I said. She was weeping; I could feel her grief on the other end of the phone.
“Cristina, I told you not to go anywhere tonight. I told you something bad was going to happen!”
She just kept sobbing. “Mom, I’m so sorry,” I interrupted.
“I’ll be okay, Mom. I’m so sorry for everything I’ve put you through.”
My heart broke as I listened to her weeping.
My mom knew what kind of life I lived and had tried desperately to help me. She knew I was on drugs. She knew I was an alcoholic.
She knew about my double life, and as time passed, it became very clear to her that I may not make it out alive.
Her tears flowed with deep sadness, grief, and disappointment.
“Ma’am, I just wanted to let you know that your daughter is okay. She is safe. She is not injured in any way, but she will not be coming home tonight.
She is going to the Harris County Jail.”
“Thank you, Officer.” Her voice cracked.
“Thank you for letting me know.” He hung up and looked at me.
“You seem like a nice girl. Why are you living this kind of life?”
“I don’t know,” I said miserably.
This wasn’t the first time an officer had asked me that.
When I lived in Florida, a police officer had asked me the same question.
Why am I living this kind of life? I thought to myself.
I could feel the officer’s kindness toward me, even though I had been cocky, rude, and dishonest with him thirty minutes before.
Looking back now, any officer could have pulled me over, but the one who did was compassionate and gentle.
I have no idea what he saved me from that night.
Perhaps I would have gotten into an accident. Maybe I would have hurt someone.
I’ll never know, but today I look back on that moment full of gratitude.
This moment was a divine intervention. A moment when heaven and earth collided to save the life of a lost, drug-addicted girl.
I am grateful that this officer patrolled that road on that night and arrested me.
We pulled into a parking garage with all the other police cruisers, and I had no idea what to expect.
There were other people there, also arrested for driving under the influence.
I was taken inside for processing and pictures, and I started sobering up as everything became very real.
We all waited inside a holding cell for our bails to post, and reality hit me like a ton of bricks.
Are you going to continue to live like this?
What are you doing with your life?
I wasn’t sure if I asked myself that question or if another voice asked it of me.
But I just kept seeing Evan’s face—the face of my precious son—and deep inside I knew something in my life had to change.
Will I ever get out of this? Will I ever change? Someone help me.
“Hope in 60 Seconds: Encountering the God of the Impossible”
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