October 21, 2013
Monday, 8:00 p.m.
Letter #300: Milestones and Other Medical Anomalies
With this letter, it would seem as if I’m passing a bit of a milestone of sorts: 300 letters written to you, my incredible family, since beginning this journey behind bars. (Well, technically, behind a steel door, a steel door, a barred gate, a steel door, a barbed-wire fence, a barbed-wire fence, a barbed-wire fence, an electric fence, and a barbed-wire fence.)
Thank you for fulfilling my one request when I started, as I left home: Just read my letters. And yet you’ve done so much more, besides. You’ve encouraged others to read them, you’ve prayed for me, visited me, written to me, and taken my calls.
Thank you to the many, many friends and even many of you new friends I’ve never even met who now read these weekly letters and encourage me with your prayers and notes. You have become family to me, so I think of you, too, as I write these letters—letters that started as a way to keep my family updated on what was happening in my world, my head, my heart. I am overwhelmed by love that could only be from my Heavenly Father. Thank you, Lord, for the incredible gift of family.
It is no secret that I find much inspiration, encouragement, comparison, and challenge in my twin brother, Michael. From the time I first noticed him in my world, I wanted to be just like him. (Not much has changed, except that he doesn’t look like a baby anymore.) I asked him recently to send me some of his sermon outlines, notes, and term papers from his seminary classes, and I was amazed by his intellect, writing skills, Biblical knowledge, wit, and creativity. I am humbled by his love of God and adherence to godly principles in his personal life. He motivates me to a deeper walk with God while serving Him.
Thus, I was glad to hear that he took a Sabbatical this past week, a four-day personal alone time sponsored by the church. (And Katie, who had to single-parent their three angels for that week.)
I know from personal experience that the joys of ministry and the rewards of service can entice one to spend more time “doing” and less and less time “being.” And though I am already separated from much of the world, from family and friends, and from many distractions, I can get sidetracked from my primary mission of following my Savior through my very attempts to serve Him. A Sabbatical sounded like the perfect refocusing time, but I can’t choose to leave “home” and disappear for a while. So God had the prison do it for me.
Yesterday as I was headed to Business Class, an officer re-routed me to Medical, where I was told I’d be spending the night, “preparing,” let’s just say, for my colonoscopy today. I quickly had the officer call to cancel the class of 30 students while I grabbed a few belongings to spend the night: my Bible, my Bible-writing journal, a Christian book, and stationery. (And my pillow, of course!)
The holding cells in Medical are stark; barren of anything soft or comfortable except for a simple cot on a metal shelf. It was silent, far removed from the 120-“man” (I use the term loosely) pod in which I live with my fan on full-time to muffle the yells. I had no one to talk to, nothing to eat, no phone to use, no TV to watch, nothing but silence.
And I loved it.
I read. I prayed. I wrote. I read. It was a cleansing time medically and spiritually, and I couldn’t get enough. At the end of it all, I was given a colonoscopy and a clean bill of health, something more than Michael ever dreamed of getting on his little four-day Sabbatical!
Please pray for me in the days ahead as I’ve been meeting with a Satan worshiper, engaging in deep debate about his eternity. Though I feel inadequate and unprepared for the task, with my God I am able to bring light to the darkness. After all, I’m not alone—thank you for praying!