October 12, 2008
Sunday, 8:00 a.m.
Letter #59: Eggs with a Side of Apologetics
Good morning! I just got back from breakfast, and I wanted to give you a quick report of the divine appointment God put in my day. It was a good wake-up call to always be prayed up, read up on the Word, and ready to do battle.
Normally, at mealtimes, I sit with guys who live in close proximity to me. Who actually sits at my four-man table varies depending on who chooses to go to the meal and who chooses to stay back in their cell. Eggcept for this morning. My tray was missing the eggs! Though it rarely happens—and never before me—the guys working “the line” in the kitchen sometimes miss an item. Usually, we are served “powdered” eggs, but occasionally—a couple times a month, at most—we get fried eggs, over medium, no runny yolk. (Yep. Just the way I like them!) Eggcept today.
Because I had to return to the window to claim my eggs—my missing fried eggs—I was at a completely different place in line, and sitting with three guys I’ve never shared a meal with before today. I thanked the Lord for my food and, as usual, I asked Him to help me be a good example and a witness for Him.
The guy to my right, an elderly man named Bob, who joins us for mid-day Bible Studies on the yard, greeted the other two guys and me with a cheerful, “Good morning! God bless you, gentlemen,” but the guy to my left wasn’t so gentle.
“Yeah? So which God are you blessing me with—‘cause you know that every religion has its own god,” he smirked his mocking question at Bob. I could tell immediately that this was not the first time this table had seen such banter.
Bob tried to respond, but the other man, named Jose, interrupted him with another absurd statement, that he believes we’re all “like monkeys—we do what we see someone else do,” implying that Bob’s belief system was only a matter of being a non-thinking follower. In answer to Bob’s question, Jose answered that he doesn’t believe in evolution—that it completely lacks facts.
Bob was stymied and beleaguered, and I wasn’t enjoying my eggs, watching from the sidelines. I basically sheathed Bob’s sword for him, and God and I handled our business.
First, I complimented him on not just believing everything he’s told, because we all must answer for our beliefs and actions one day. He said he doesn’t believe there are moral absolutes, just behavior that is “acceptable and unacceptable” (Huh?) and it doesn’t matter what people do—it’s their choice, I responded that he was simply re-naming “good and evil” with synonyms and that he would care what “unacceptable” behavior occurred, if it was perpetuated against his family.
“I no longer have a family,” he retorted, eerily.
“Oh, that’s right. This is prison,” I thought.
“I just want to live life to the fullest, and not worry about the after-life,” he said. “Besides, we have to give our spirits back to God when we die anyway.” He’d just let on that he believed in the possibility of God.
“Well, that’s close, but you’re forgetting that we are made in God’s image.” By the question on his face, I knew that I had his attention. “Not that we look like God—if He had a nose like mine, no one would worship Him—but, we are eternally like Him, in that we have a spirit. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). True, our bodies die, but our spirits live forever—with God, or without Him.”
I gave him an example. “When my dad comes to visit me, I look forward to our time together. I know he’s coming, because he told me he’s coming. Now, on the way to visit, just past the gate, are the only flowers on our yard, and the only opportunity while at this prison to put your face into a bunch of flowers and inhale deeply. But, honestly? I’m so looking forward to seeing my dad, that I don’t bother with the flowers. See, it’s the same with my relationship with God. Sure, I enjoy this life He’s given me, and I’m living each day to the fullest, but I’m looking forward to spending time with Him face to face, someday.”
“And, what if you’re wrong? What if there’s no after-life?” He asked.
“You need to be asking yourself that same question: What if you are wrong? See, if there is no after-life, then I’ll have just tried my best to do what I can to benefit others and enjoy life, but if there is an after-life, then it’s gonna suck for one of us!” I’d timed that remark to coincide with our table being dismissed.
As we stood to leave, Jose smiled at me and conceded, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Walking back to our building, he told me that he’d “tried the Christian thing” for 10 years, then gave it up, all while in prison. Just before parting, I told him that he may have given up on God, but God hasn’t given up on him. I rejoiced in knowing that God counted me worthy to stand and do battle for Him, for a man’s soul. I know this is just Round 1 with Jose. I pray for more.
I was blessed to receive such an incredibly generous package of food, warm clothes, and helpful appliances. Thank you! I love you all. Thank you for your prayers!
GOD WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES
• “We’re made in God’s image” was the theme of a correspondence course Bible Study class portion I completed this week!
• As part of my Bible college classes, I’m reading through the Bible 16 times in the next eight years. Yesterday I read John 1–5, including this verse I quoted.
• Remember this flower story from a prior “Dear Family” letter? God prepared me with it.