February 2, 2012
Thursday, 8:00 p.m.
Letter #211: Priorities
In typical Christopher fashion, I’ve taken on a whole lot of responsibilities that require a large portion of my time. Every day. All day.
I know how this happens. I come across an opportunity for ministry, and I want to help it come to pass. Often requiring hours of planning, proposals, and meetings, with dozens of pages of rewritten material, the process is exhausting. Then there’s the time commitment to it once it launches.
I’m currently working on several projects: three educational program proposals, two case appeals (not mine), 🙂 two music classes, two choir classes, two one-on-one exit strategy meetings per week, and Bible study time with Soto, the new believer, every day. Just keeping it all in a tight schedule is a fun challenge, and I thrive on a packed “To Do” list.
The awesome thing is, I’ve seen God clearly leading me into each activity that I am involved with, and I’ve been grateful to receive His obvious blessings of open doors along the way (I teach so often—at least 19 hours a week now—that I’m the only inmate with a whiteboard pen and eraser issued by the prison. I know. It’s a great indicator of how much your life sucks if you’re excited by a pen.) In fact, I’ve had to make difficult choices to not be involved in some activities, even if I’m pressured by good friends to do so.
If I don’t know that God is leading me, I can’t do it. So, in all of this, I didn’t want to get “too busy” for God. Though I’ve known Him for over thirty years, He’s known me much longer! Now is my time to get to know Him, not just know about Him. Therefore, my time is prioritized around my time with God each day.
The other items in my day don’t neglect God, by any means … even in the college business class I teach two nights a week, I try to keep each student focused on his God-given abilities … but those activities are no substitute for my personal quiet time, listening to my Shepherd.
I tell you honestly, it is TOUGH! I like to go, go, go—busy all day long. But I’m learning to love the time of quiet reflection in His presence too. He created me with a love for anything that even half-resembles business (both nonprofit and for-profit), but how easy it is to be distracted by the very gifts He blesses us with!
A man I look up to in the faith more than any other man here is a soft-spoken, humble, witty, and smart guy in his 50’s named Frank. (Dear God, I’d love to be him with hair someday!) He’s seen me involved in a lot of activities and asked me if I’m getting any time to myself. (No.) He asked me whom I opened up to—who’s investing in me.
I told Frank I look up to him as a godly example. Since then, he’s made sure to pull me aside to ask how my prayer life is going, to ask if I am taking time to be alone with God, or just to encourage me. He also gave me a letter with lots of helpful Scripture references and gave me insights from what God has taught him through his failures.
I’m grateful for someone who, though he has nothing but a tattered paperback Bible, a pencil stub, and the backs of old envelopes to write on, has found ways to invest in my life. I don’t want to be so “driven” that the wheels fall off. I’ve done that plenty of times before. And I don’t want to get so busy here that I can’t properly reach out to all of you who care about what God is doing in me and who support me through notes and prayers. This is a good thing for me to learn, and it’s about time! Thank you for praying for my continued growth in my walk with God. Your prayers mean the world to me.
While writing this, I was interrupted by a guy in my pod, Caesar, who just started going to church. He’s been on the phone a lot recently, and I’d asked him about it. His wife is leaving him, he told me, and it doesn’t seem likely he’ll get her to stay. He still has more than eight years of his prison sentence to serve, and he’s not been the best husband.
Just now Caesar came by my cell to talk, a first for him. I told him I’d pray for him and Mayra, and he thanked me. I was able to bless him with notepaper and cute notecards to send to her and gave him some ideas of what to say (“Not too much—it’s just to let her know she’s worth fighting for.”).
He asked if he could meet with me sometime tomorrow, if I have a moment to talk. I told him that we believe in marriage, which is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church, His bride—us! And, yes, of course I have time. Lots and lots of time.