May 18, 2008
Sunday, 2:00 p.m.
Letter #23: Free Indeed!
Greetings! Today is my—hang on, let me calculate it!—80th day incarcerated! That means that I’ve completed—one more pause, please—approximately 1/70 of my time. My prayer is that I will be able to accomplish far more for the Lord in the time remaining. I feel that it goes by so quickly, that I don’t want to ever relax in the comfortableness of the BIG number (15 years), but continue to focus on the little numbers (each day) to make them count for His glory.
It would be far easier to just assume, for example, that I’ll serve Him “when I get to my permanent residence” or “next year” or even “tomorrow.” The challenge is to make each day count! Even if “all” I do is make sure to spend time alone (Ha!) with God in prayer for others, I’ve waged war with the enemy! It would be easier to stand, instead of advancing forward into battle. But, more than that, am I showing up on enemy radar as Job did? He got on Satan’s nerves! Wow. To have the “Prince of Darkness” complaining to God about you?!? What an honor!
When I look back, however, on these past 80 days … what have “I” accomplished for the Kingdom of God? Have I stood firm in my faith? Have I resisted temptation? Have I “blushed to speak His Name”—as it asks in “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” So what: I’ve been to church. So what: I’ve led Bible studies. So what: I read my Bible and pray. So what: I’ve written a few letters—hang on, let me count, this is #110—So, WHAT? Have I advanced His Kingdom? Have I made it—and His Righteousness—my primary goal?
I’m taking stock of my life—the minutes that make up my days—and evaluating their purpose. My prayer is for each of you too: Don’t get caught “going through the motions” of your “Christian” life, expecting that you’ll make a difference by default. True, you’re saved—but who knows it? Does the person in line behind you know it? Would someone who followed you around on a Sunday know it? Of course. How about Thursday? God is burdening me for the souls of men (thank you for praying!) and He’s making me aware of how short my time is: here at North Kern, here in prison, here on Earth. Compared with eternity (and a hot day in Delano, CA, can feel like an eternity!), I don’t have much time. God, give me strength to stand for You—to make each moment count.
As a porter, God has gifted me with many exciting opportunities to proclaim Christ. (Interesting note, that this was my intended topic before God prompted me to write the previous page. I glory not in myself, but Christ alone.) Just two days ago, 3 separate cells, far apart from each other (104, 207, 220) called me over to their doors and attempted to show me pornographic images. Last night, another. I thank the Lord that He protected my eyes. I’ve dedicated them to Him, and I don’t want any part of that area … you’d think that confinement would make it easier to follow Christ, right? In some ways, yes. But the greatest battleground is in our mind.
Sometimes, have you noticed how Satan either tries to get you to “glory in your shame” by bringing up your past—the “fun” you had when Christ wasn’t in control? Or, he takes your “failures”—the times you let the flesh rule—and makes you think that defines who you are, right? Reject it! That’s NOT who you are, and it’s not Whose you are!! You belong to Christ, and so does your mind!
Recently, while leading a Bible Study, God prompted me with this truth to share with the guys: though Satan tries to discourage us because of our circumstances, he doesn’t control our eternal destiny, nor does he have the ability to snatch us from the Father’s Hand. I put it this way: “Though I’m clothed in orange because of my sins, God sees me dressed in WHITE because of His Son!”
Our situation, status, and strife are momentary—our strength in Christ is eternal, if we rely on Him! Because of my weaknesses and failures in the past, God has given me an amazing hearing with guys who are facing difficulties and struggles in their lives. As I humbly relate my inadequacies and share how Christ overcomes all failures, I’ve seen a few guys now recognize what they need to do to have inner freedom. Originally coming to me for “counsel” (sympathy!), I point them to the convicting truths of God’s Word, and I let the Holy Spirit do His life-changing work. The Truth shall set you free, and you shall be free indeed! Please pray for open hearts to the Master Surgeon!
I love each and every one of you. Thank you for your prayers of support and letters of encouragement. You truly are partakers of my many blessings, as well!