January 24, 2016
Sunday, 10:00 a.m.
Letter #419: The Ultimate Pardon
Not long ago, President Obama used one of his rights as our nation’s Chief Executive and pardoned hundreds of criminals whose names were not Christopher. I know this not because I checked the list, if there were such an easily accessible list to peruse, but because I was not immediately summoned to appear again before a judge and released.
The same circumstance being true for each of my felonious friends did not dissuade many from hoping that they, too, would soon find themselves on such a list. And by “hoping,” I mean delusionally thinking that such a Presidential Pardon is somehow even possible for them (it is not; the President can only pardon federal crimes and cannot interfere with any state’s right to incarcerate within their state penitentiary system a person who is convicted of violating that state’s laws). If only the delusional thinking was where the hoping ended. But no, it also included, of course, the need to speak of such delusions to anyone within walking distance. And by walking distance I mean me.
As someone with below-average looks and above-average intelligence (measured a decade ago as a quotient of 136), I am seen as someone who knows about such legal matters and cares. Knows about? Yes, without actually trying, since most of these things can be understood through logic, such as the fact that stupid people have a higher probability of coming to prison than those of average intelligence. Cares about? It’s not so much that I don’t care about the ins and outs of a legal system as it relates to who it is releasing and when, it’s just that I do not care one bit about hypothetical nonsense as it relates to aforementioned stupid people who should finally learn to sit back and enjoy the ride they ordered for themselves. #harshbuttrue
Making every attempt possible to put myself in the (most likely too small) shoes of those who wish to see a thread of hope for early release in every news story and every subtle change in surroundings (“My, the carrots are undercooked. They must be trying to save money, which means they can’t afford to keep us here much longer, Brother.”), I try to see the facts less as facts and more as possibilities. (“Hey, that whole electric fence thing is overrated. Wear the right clothes and you won’t even feel it. Besides, every fence has a gate somewhere along the line, and gates open eventually. We’re going home, Brother.”) Yeah, how about you not call me Brother, since my brothers don’t sound half as dumb as you. Sorry, but I’m just not into magical thinking.
Oh, trust me, I believe in miracles, because my God is known as a “miracle-working God.” (That’s just a name we’ve ascribed to Him, of course, since the stuff He does seems so miraculous to us. To Him, it’s just the normal stuff He does.) God could use the leaders in government to set some prisoners free. He could use legislation to do it, as well. Or, He could send one of His angels in, old-school, and rip the doors off the place. No doubt He’s capable, but the more I get to know Him, the more certain I become that He isn’t planning a dramatic prison break anytime soon. He’s already done the bigger miracle than that, one that is far more important, even necessary, and because of it, I have all that I need. (And no, I am not referring to chocolate.)
The fact of the matter is, God isn’t nearly as concerned about our living conditions as we are. He knows that if we are complaining about the oppression we are under as slaves in Egypt, we’ll soon be complaining about the lack of meat in the desert. Next, we’ll complain about the lack of variety of food. Then, when the ultimate varieties of food are presented to us, we’ll just complain that we may have to slay a few giants to get it. Instead, it is God’s desire that our circumstances shape us into His image as His children. Adversity and trials build godly character, which creates a blessed circumstance out of anything we face.
A grateful heart recognizes the unmistakable fact that God provides for our every need no matter where we are or how much stuff we have in comparison to our neighbors. I’ve learned the value of contentment with what I have, without complacency, in my situation. This allows me to enjoy my many blessings: family, friends, and freedom to worship God as I want, when I want, while always striving to be at my best. Holding nothing against those who pursue pardons by governmental authorities as some of my friends have, that isn’t a route I’m comfortable with as I address the time I have been given.
I’ve accepted the ultimate pardon granted to me by the God of the universe. There is no higher authority than God. There is nothing so costly to obtain than what it cost Him to grant me that pardon, as He paid for it with the life of His Son. The acceptance of such a pardon means that I have been set free inside. I am no longer bound by sin, its desires, its rule over me. I don’t report to it, I don’t serve it, and I’m not captivated by it.
With such a gift, the ultimate gift, why would I ever chase after the meaningless, empty pardons granted by mere man? A pardon that expires when I do isn’t much of a pardon anyways, and I’m planning to last long after that. Thank you for your prayers for me!