March 18, 2010
Thursday, 9:00 p.m.
Letter #126: Wholly His
Greetings! Don’t Waste Your Life. God is teaching me this concept ever so carefully. First, a Christian brother here loaned me his copy of a book by that name, written by John Piper. After reading a few chapters, I acquired a copy for myself and started reading the book over again, this time making lots of notes and underlining key passages.
I am enclosing those notes, through the first few chapters. Read them. I know I write small; read them anyway. I trust this book will not only bless you (I’ll be sending the rest in a few days, as I transcribe them for you … ), but I trust your life will be changed as you consider the truths in it. Well, the book was just a starting point …
God is now putting me through some practical tests of my devotion to Him. See, I always considered that I did quite a bit for God. In fact, I’ve believed this most of my life, and I’ve believed it about my life as a whole. That is, I’ve considered, for most of my life, that much of my life has been spent for God.
I will not bore you with my vain reasonings. Any one of us can prove how he or she has been “good” or “unselfish” or “generous,” or we can claim to have been “dedicated” in our service to God. I can prove and claim these things too. But in the past, I’d always made sure I reserved a little bit for me: a little time, a little fun, a little sin. My heart wasn’t wholly His.
Now, in prison, it would be even easier to get by with feigned devotion, with the appearance of being sold out for God. But God is not interested in a short prayer, a verse for the day, church on Sunday, and that’s it. He wants ALL of me. He wants to consume my thoughts, my motives, my actions. And, as I yield myself to be used by Him, I find that He guides how my time is spent, whom I talk to, and the outcome of each day. In this, my life is not wasted. Not a day, not a moment. Not a year, not these 15 years. And God is enjoying, it seems, finding ways to use me.
The day after I’d found out that my transfer to Arizona was on temporary hold, and I hadn’t told the guys in our Bible Study yet, the man I’d appointed to take my place as facilitator these last several weeks (and clearly led of God to do so) resigned as facilitator of the Yard Bible Study. Just before I announced that I’d be here a while longer. It hit me. I’m now (again!) facilitating the Bible Study but this time encouraging others to lead by scheduling them to either give a message once a month or lead the group for a day (prayer requests, etc.).
I felt led to encourage our guys to reach out to the many men here who need a Savior, through accountability. That is, if they are NOT at the one-hour Bible Study during each yard, then they will be asked, with eager anticipation, with whom they were sharing Christ instead! For example, I explained to them, if it is your turn to go to the “store,” and you must stand in line and miss the study, then don’t just stand there! Look with Spiritual eyes to see whom God has placed in your path to minister to! Don’t waste your life! Guys have testified that this motivates them to speak up, knowing we are going to ask!
God places us all over this prison—not all clumped together—that His light can reach those around us. I make it my mission to welcome any new guys—locked in their cells on “orientation” status for 10–14 days once they arrive here—and see that their basic essential toiletries are cared for, either by our Christian “storehouse” or by my own means.
Recently, a sour ex-gang member who moved in near me needed a bunch of “essentials”: a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, coffee, soups, and such. I sent those items over to him and blessed him, telling him God was blessing him. He was stunned, saying he’d never been treated like this in 14 years. Praise God … he’s signed up to begin attending church services with me, as has his cellie, an avowed atheist.
Use me up, Lord! Some guy I’d never met stopped me on the yard yesterday and asked me to pray with him. His sisters are ill. I put my arm around his neck and we cried out to the Great Physician. Use me, God! I’ll be that one for You! I don’t want to waste my life on petty things of no significance. Use me.