April 13, 2008
Sunday, 4:30 p.m.
Letter #15: A Private Concert with an Audience of One
Today was tough. Since I wasn’t on “the list” to go to church yesterday (that I’ve never seen), I made sure I obtained “the list” from the C.O. and signed up me, my cellie Gypsy, and the guys in my Bible Study. Not 5 minutes later, we were called to church! This would make my day! I hadn’t been to church in three weeks!
We all walked outside, but as we waited, one guy behind me yelled out to a guy he recognized on the yard—a rule violation. The yard cop looked our way, pointed to me, and yelled: “You! With the Bible! Lock it up!” I just said, “Yes, sir,” and walked back inside. The normally gruff C.O., Martinez, looked surprised to see me and asked what happened. I told him, then headed up to my room to lock up, still in shock.
Since everyone else was either at church or dayroom, Martinez didn’t make me go into my cell, so I stood there, hugging my Bible, fighting a huge lump in my throat. My neighbors returned from dayroom 2 minutes later and asked how I was doing. I couldn’t wait to get into my cell and just be alone but was too late. Huge tears filled my eyes, and I turned and stared at the door, shaking my head.
Someone pressed, “What’s up, Bro?” My chin quivered, I mumbled what had happened, and tears rolled down my face. Mercifully, my door opened, and I darted inside, slamming it behind me as I burst out crying in disappointment and loss.
“I wanted to go to church! I wanted to go to church!” I choked out, over and over. I tried convincing God I should go, telling Him that I wanted to sing to Him and play the piano for Him. And, through my tears, He spoke to my heart, telling me ever so gently that He would love it if I could please sing for Him now and would I mind playing for Him, too? He told me it would make His day. So, I knelt beside the bottom bunk, still blubbering in my self-absorbed state of “unfairness” and self-pity.
I barely croaked out the first line of “How Great Thou Art,” my hands playing on the blanket in front of me a beautiful accompaniment for my great Savior. I swallowed hard and continued, my voice lifted in praise and my hands making no mistakes in their worship. God let know in that moment that He wanted to have church with me far more than I wanted to have church with Him.
While I looked forward to singing, playing the piano possibly, and being fed by the Word, my Heavenly Father was looking forward to spending time with me! The Creator of the universe cared enough about me to single me out for a special one-on-one time with Him! I finally bowed my heart and thanked Him for thinking of me. I asked Him to bless the other guys who were at church without me and to bless my loved ones at church, and then I opened the Word, rejoicing and basking in His love and favor. God is good.