September 29, 2010
Wednesday, 9:00 p.m.
Letter #153: Baby Steps
Greetings! Thanks for taking time out of your busy Actual Life in the Free World to get caught up on what the Lord is doing Behind Bars. (Well, technically speaking, the Lord isn’t “behind bars” Himself, rather He is in the lives of those of us who are His kids, behind bars. Yes, I DO believe in the Sinless Christ. Although, I’ve met a guy who believed he was an Apostle, but that’s a whole different story … )
I recently requested a printout of the email addresses this sort-of-weekly “Dear Family” letter gets scanned and sent out to, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover 50+ email addresses on the list—which puts me right up there with those guys in Nigeria who have that royal inheritance they need to transfer to your bank account, if you’d be so kind as to please send the routing and account numbers?
The list includes my blood relatives, those who got hitched to a relative, friends, and church family. In all, the list represents over 120 people who know me and/or love me (hey, I understand if you don’t love me, and some of you I’ve never met but love me anyway). I’m grateful for your support and humbled by the many of you who care (and those who don’t).
Remember Victor, the reading-deficient chap I’ve been tutoring? (Read Letter) Yeah, well, I guess an hour—a whole hour!—a day of “reading class” was a bit much for the boy, so he informed me, quite politely, that he would no longer be needing my services. This is the exact equivalent of Coca Cola no longer needing the original recipe, of flowers no longer needing the services of bees, or peanut butter no longer needing the services of jelly.
Not one to give up too easily, I encouraged him to keep reading on his own, to keep asking others for assistance, and to press the institution to enroll him in school. A disappointment, but I’m learning that not everyone wants to grow. Not everyone wants to change. I just need to be available to assist where I’m wanted and not worry about the results.
A new guy in our pod, Duff (his real name!), has joined our Purpose-Driven Life group and is now going to the Self-Confrontation class, as well. He is a brand-new believer, and so it’s fun to see him soaking up the knowledge of God’s Word and begin applying it to his life. He has some background factors that are similar to Luis, my cellie, (having been raised Catholic, e.g.) so he has asked Luis for advice and help with the homework for the Self-Confrontation class.
Since we are training the participants in the class how to deal with problems Biblically, then disciple others, Duff has become the first guy Luis has ever discipled. I’m so grateful to see this, because Luis has told me he looks up to me as an example in training and helping others to grow in their walk with God. Encouraging and coaching others to reach out one-on-one is far more effective than trying to do it all myself, for sure!
Much of my time recently has been devoted to my Bible College studies. Our final for this month’s course on Eschatology—Understanding the End Times was due this week. I’m not only doing the work myself, of course, but I’m coaching three guys who have never written a college paper before—and two only got a GED after coming to prison, so their high school attendance was sketchy, at best.
Learning to study, to take notes, to plan a paper, to manage time, to be thorough, to focus, to prioritize, to seek assistance, etc. are all things I take for granted because of my awesome teacher I had my whole childhood—my mom. I’ve had to schedule additional time to help, but how satisfying it is to see progress being made! I really feel like I’m putting three kids through college at times.
Do you believe in baby steps? I do. Often I can be overwhelming to someone, because I can see exactly what they need to do to handle the issues in their life Biblically, and it’s tempting to want to fix everything all at once. This can be frustrating for the other person (duh—ya think?!?) so I’ve tried just getting him to work on one or two areas at a time, much as I do with myself and my own goals.
For example, one of my guys has tons of pictures of ladies—“friends” of his, some married, some not—and had posted a few dozen of them on his wall. Since he is married, I asked him why he had all these other pictures (some of whom were his exes!) on his wall and challenged him to take them down, to honor his wife. He made excuses, but showed me his wall today—empty. This kind of thing just isn’t usually done here, so I’m proud of him. It’s just baby steps in the right direction, but moving forward all the time!
Which direction are you facing? How long has it been since you’ve taken a step closer to your Father?