November 4, 2010
Thursday, 6:00 p.m.
Letter #158: Putting My Fights On, One Shoe at a Time
Greetings! God is infinitely bigger than any problem, any trial, any situation. I know this in my head, because I’m smart enough to know so. But when it comes to applying this truth in my heart, how stupid I become! It’s not so much that I don’t trust God … it’s that I trust ME. I know, right? It sounds crazy, but before you poke your judgmental fingers at me, think about it; which is the easier choice: to bless those who curse you, or to give ‘em a taste of their own medicine? How about this one: to trust God for enough finances, or to skip the tithe this time because you figure you’ll be short on cash otherwise?
Well, sometimes it takes a dramatic moment so beyond our control or ability to manage before we do what was unthinkable to us in the past: we leave the situation completely in God’s hands. Of course, as our loving Heavenly Father, He sees us through the catastrophic event, and we come away with a renewed commitment to trust Him more. Which lasts a few minutes, or until the next major crises,* whichever comes first.
To top it off, we have the audacity to internally mock the children of Israel who spend Bible story after Bible story not trusting the very God who just saved them. (How can you complain when food falls from the sky every day to feed you? The big ungrateful bunch!)
Yes, this rant has a point. Sheesh! Patience, people. I’ve got you spoiled now, looking for a prison riot or something dramatic in my letters, right? Nah, you, gentler reader, are far more mature than to crave drama. I know you.
Someone asked me to put my shoes on yesterday. In prison lingo, to put your shoes on is an indication that you are ready to fight. (For people like me, who are known fighters, shoes are optional. I could take a punch in fuzzy bunny slippers.) Being that I wasn’t interested in fighting the guy, I stalled for time and asked him why I should put on my shoes. He just looked at me very seriously and told me to put my *!@ shoes on.
Now, you realize my cell is like a concrete bathroom with a bunkbed in it. When there is a very angry man who enters this bathroom with you, it becomes a death-trap. (Oh, calm down! I’m writing to you, so already you can guess the ending. Like a Disney movie, the good guy never dies! Except Bambi’s father and Old Yeller.)
When he lunged at me to help me get down off the top bunk, I decided I’d break the news to him that I didn’t want to fight. In response, he shut the door behind him, locking himself in with me, and hung a towel over the window in the door to prevent any witness to my death. He said this would be his “third strike”—a third violent felony, leading to a mandatory life sentence if discovered—so he wanted to get his “money’s worth.”
I understood that to mean that he wasn’t going to just do “1, 2, 3, 4, let’s have a thumb war” with me, so I hopped off my bunk in a non-threatening manner and stood in front of my shoes as if I was having a difficult time deciding which pair I’d rather be buried in: my state-issued boat shoes, or my white skater shoes I’ll never skate in.
I began to pray. God brought to mind that He was with me in that moment, and that this was a spiritual battle, not a physical one. I tried to believe Him, then did. For we “wrestle not against flesh and blood” but against spiritual forces, I remembered.
I stared down at my shoes, and began to put on the whole armor of God, finishing with the shoes. I thanked God for giving me the shoes of the “preparation of the Gospel of peace.” I asked Him to—please!—put His peace into the situation, and that if I needed to be beat up, to help me bring Him glory by my response.
The guy started getting impatient, pacing by my door and telling me to hurry up. (This, apparently, is the honorable kind of bad guy who will at least wait for his victim to get his shoes on before beating the living dung beetle out of him.)
Then, suddenly, everything turned around. He told me he changed his mind and decided not to beat me up. I asked him what I had done to get him upset, and he sat down and explained to me that I had been talking with him earlier, someone had interrupted us, and I hadn’t asked him to please continue after the interruption. Ahh, a perfectly logical explanation for a pillow-fight, prison style: without pillows.
Anyhoo, all’s well, and I’ve learned once again to put my trust in my God who fights my battles for me. Oh, and He and I have a new morning routine, where I get dressed spiritually before anything else. It’s made choosing which shoes to wear so much easier.
*My next major crisis is misspelling the word crisis. In pen. I’m human, and Bic hasn’t developed an adequate spell-checker for these little babies. Yet.