October 19, 2008
Sunday, 5:30 p.m.
Letter #60: One Breath from Eternity
Hi! How is everyone? I pray for you, and it is always fun to hear what new and exciting things you’re doing!
Yesterday’s rain brought a dramatic sky, and the moon has been clearly visible in the sky for the past week in the morning as I walk to breakfast. (This is a blessing, since I’m inside after dinner—usually no later than 5:00 p.m.—and don’t normally see the night sky.)
While inside at breakfast yesterday, I was treated to a spectacular boom of thunder and simultaneous flash of lightning, as the super-tall light pole just outside the door got hit. The verse in Matthew came to mind, that I should love my enemies, bless those who curse me, do good to those who hate me, and pray for those who persecute me, to be like my Heavenly Father who sends rain on both the just and unjust. (Matthew 5:44–45) You can’t really get a much clearer picture of that verse than here in prison, can you? 🙂 Rain is a great reminder of the fact that God continues to provide for sinners, bless sinners, and love sinners into a relationship with Him, and I should do not less!
What an awesome blessing at today’s worship service: two guys made professions of their faith by following Christ’s example in baptism! Wow. One of the guys, named Jose, came here from the Delano facility with me, my cellie Lorenzo, and a few others. He’s a new believer, and we’d done quite a bit of talking about our faith while on the way here. I’d invited him to church, and he’s been an enthusiastic participant these past five months. A portable communion table/baptistry was the method by which he made it clear he’s not playing around with his faith, praise God. The rest of us—witnesses to the commitments made—will need to take seriously the task of discipling and encouraging these guys.
I’m getting Jose signed up with a basic Bible Study correspondence course I’m currently enrolled in. It lays a fairly clear understanding of foundational Biblical truths in a very Scripturally-based study. I started the course prior to enrolling in Bible college, and prior to realizing just how basic it is. 🙂 I’ve stuck with it, however, as it is a commitment I made. I still put a lot of time and effort into answering the essay questions too. My prayer is that many more guys will take this season of their lives as an opportunity to get to know their Creator in a deeper, more intimate way.
In church today were two guys I play basketball with and a guy who I met at visiting (after Mommy had talked to his mom and sister while in line to see me). Guys are always being transferred to other facilities, going home, or getting sick, so there’s always room for more in the church.
One morning this week, a guy I’d seen many times at dayroom, meals, and waiting for a shower didn’t wake up to go to breakfast. His cellie alerted the guards, and soon our cellblock was the scene of a major resuscitation effort. I just stood at my door, praying that God would, in His mercy, spare “Gator” and give him one more chance to know Him. I told God I would be faithful—this time—to share the gospel with this old guy who, for all I knew, had never heard.
Nurses—a half-dozen of them—tried what they could. I felt so helpless, watching somebody die. They had a heartbeat, then he was barely breathing. Paramedics finally arrived, it seemed to be hours later, and Gator’s stiff body was put on oxygen and carted off. He hasn’t come back—yet.
I’ve been at the bedside of the terminally ill, the dying, and a couple of people as they took their final breaths. However, in each of those cases, I’d personally asked about the state of that person’s heart before God. They were ready to meet the Lord, even 9-year-olds David and Alonna knew they’d see their Savior soon. But Gator? I don’t know, and it kills me inside that he was just a name; just a face. Please, God. Give me one more chance to tell him about You.
A man named Benny gave his testimony today. He, too, had been carted off to the hospital, one month ago, to die of terminal cancer. Many prayed for him to be spared, and it is a medical miracle that he is back, a spiritual miracle that he was standing at the front of the church, imploring the men to get right with God, with their families, and with themselves. Praise God for literally bringing this man back to life. He alone is the giver of life!
Who can you share His Life with this week? Don’t wait until it’s too late to share.