Thursday, May 9, 2019 -
In many ways, prison life for a Christian resembles life on the outside. Because the most fulfilling thing one can do is to help someone who needs help. When an opportunity to help someone specifically arises, I’ve always considered it my responsibility and here in prison, it is no different.
Just a small example of this arose last evening, in part because TVs have been shut off for nearly two weeks because one of the inmates in our unit verbally disrespected a female guard on the evening shift the night before last. So we’re all being punished in multiple ways for what one individual did. The whole unit was sent to the “yard” while officers “trashed” the unit and emptied lockers, throwing mattresses and bed liners in pile in the courtyard. I prayed, “Lord, please protect my locker,” and He did! Mine was one of four cells not trashed! The next day, the unit was closed, and we had to spend the whole day outside.
Telling you about that is irrelevant because I considered it a blessing for many of the inmates, including my cellmate. He’d been taking a class specifically designed for drug offenders, which is mandatory, and today was the last day when they had to turn in their completed workbook and take their final “test.” So, “J” and others who may have otherwise been tempted to watch TV like usual, didn’t have that temptation dangling in front of them.
I was in and out of the cell, and saw “J” struggling, as he does when he’s forced to read or write. He is a brilliant man but hates to read, and had rejected my many offers to tutor him in becoming a better reader. But last night, he was desperate as the task seemed insurmountable. So I just sat down with him, and said, “Just run your answers by me first, and I can help you spell out your answers.”
And so, I believe he actually began enjoying running ideas by me, using me as a sounding board. And I was happy to provide little ways he could improve what he was trying to say and correct his grammar. Granted, it took hours, but I was thrilled when the last thing he said before going to sleep was, “Thank you.”As a result, he was able to really step up the thought process, and the result turned out exceedingly well! So this morning, the first thing I asked him when he came back from the class was, “How did it go?”
He said, “Well, I passed my test. But I got really concerned because she picked up my workbook, read the whole thing, and then set it aside and moved on to others. Hardly anyone finished their workbook but me, so she’d hand it back to the person and tell them to complete it. But she kept picking up my book and re-reading it and then would set it aside again. Finally, after going through everyone’s books, she handed it back to me and told me I was done and passed the class. Boy, am I glad I got it done last night!”
“J” had truly put a lot of thought and effort into his answers, saying how in order to overcome addiction, one’s heart has to change. And one cannot overcome temptation without God’s help. He said addiction will cause on to lose everything – their family, home, and possessions. Nothing is worth the high one gets from it.
“J” was thrilled, and so was I. It was an evening well spent and self-satisfying for both of us!
In closing, I leave you with this quote from Chuck Colson, “If we really understand what being a Christian means – that this Christ, the living God, actually comes in to rule one’s life – then everything must change: values, goals, priorities, desires, and habits. If Christ’s lordship does not disrupt our own lordship, then the reality of our conversion must be questioned.”