Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Thursday, December 20th, 2018 -
Yesterday evening and today have been very rewarding to me spiritually. I have seen God answer prayer in a number of ways. First, after I had mailed my journal yesterday evening, “S”, a man who shortly before entering prison had embraced Christ as his Savior, asked me what I was now reading. I told him I was fewer than 50 pages from finishing one of the most awesome books I'd ever read - - a book I've had for upmost years. I have begun to read it years ago but failed to get past the first or second chapter. However, God knew I needed it not just for myself but for what could've been a very dark and black hour but for others trapped with me here in this prison who have embraced Christ as their Savior but have failed to fully surrender and trust Him completely. “S” thumbed through it, and said he’d like to read it. I told him I'd be finished with it today, and he could read it then. Pray it will have a profound impact on him as it has on me. It is Hannah Whitall Smith’s “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life” a book written in 1870 and has sold more than 2 million copies. I then proceeded to ask about how he came to know Christ and he told me much of his life story. I'd known that he was here for embezzling money from his employer and that he became a Christian in March and has been here in prison since early August. He grew up a Methodist but did not come from church.
So as a young teen he decided with his parents' permission, to abandon the church. While studying philosophy at the University of Kentucky, “S” also abandoned the idea that there could be a God, and declared himself to be an atheist. But then within the past year, coincidences kept happening causing him to reconsider the fact that there truly is a God. I told him I didn't believe it was coincidences, but the Holy Spirit moving his heart. In the meanwhile, relatives, including his dad began to speak with him about God and spiritual things. When his conviction became imminent, a friend of his suggested that he speak to a friend of hers who had been incarcerated here at FCI Ashland...he consented.
This man told him how he had found Christ here in prison. “S” continued seeking after the truth but was looking for God to convince him that He is real. He confided this to his dad, who told "S" that his faith is something that comes once someone decides to believe in God and Christ’s redemption. And so, “S” took that step of faith. Now he is eagerly reading every Christian book he can get his hands on. So please be praying for him as I give him this book to read tonight.
This afternoon “J” also told me he'd rather be doing a Bible study rather than watching TV. Most of the men in here watch TV constantly. “J” has a hard time reading and said the only thing he understands that he reads is the Bible. I've been trying to encourage “J” to fully trust God for his circumstances and future. Kathie gave me some scriptures today from James - - the last verse of chapter 4 and the first part of chapter 5.
I came into the cell and told him that and asked if he wanted me to read them aloud, which he gladly consented. Man, was he excited to hear James 5. He said to thank Kathie, that it was really meant for him. So tonight I finish the book which is all about fully surrendering and trusting everything over to and with the Lord. Few Christians really do this, but it has been something the Lord, has been working on me for years! We must constantly earnestly abandon ourselves to God. Everything. Every problem. Every temptation. Every persecution. Only then will we be one with Christ--truly united it is not a thing of feelings or emotions - - but of character. It is something we are to be. Not something we can do. For it can't be achieved until we recognize it is impossible for us to achieve until we surrender it to God in complete abandonment, recognizing our helplessness, and trusting only Him to rescue and transform us.
Only then will our character change, exemplifying the fruits of the spirit. It is truly the pathway to Holiness, and there is no other way, then fully yielding to His control! This means even those things that look like enemies, sufferings, trials, defeats, misunderstanding, disappointments, and unkindness. We have to be brought to the place where all other refuge fails us before we can say “He only”. We can't say “He and something else!” So, we should be thankful for our trials. There was no other way for Joseph to have reached his exaltation but through slavery and imprisonment. Yet through it, Joseph was faithful and so he was rewarded and used of God to save his people. He makes all things; even bad things work together for good to all who trust Him and all who need Him.
All He needs is to have us entirely committed to Him. And then we will indeed have our strength renewed and shall mount up with wings as eagles running, and not weary, walking, and not fainting. One wing is called “surrender” and the other “trust”. And so I must wait on the Lord. That keeps coming up over and over again. Either our problems and difficult situations will crush us or the wings of eagles will cause us to mount up and fly over them in “the Heavenly places in Christ above them all, where they will lose their power to harm or distress us”. Therefore I must be thankful and never doubt. God is doing a work I am yet to learn. It is fitting the book closed with the analogy of a prison here on Earth; “no earthly bars can ever imprison the soul. No walls, however high, or bolts however strong, can imprison an eagle as long as there is an open way upward; and earth’s power can never hold the soul in prison while the upward way is kept open and free. Our enemies build walls around us as high as they please, but they cannot build any barrier between us and God; if we mount up with wings we can fly higher than any of their walls can ever reach. If we find ourselves imprisoned then we may be sure of this, that it is not our earthly environment that constitutes our prison house, for the soul's wings scorn all paltry bars and walls of earth's making. The only thing that can really imprison the soul is something that hinders upward flight...and so we must cut ourselves loose...cut every cord and remove every barrier that our soul may find no hindrance to their mounting up with wings as eagles to heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The promise is not that we “may” mount up but we “shall” mount up with wings like eagles! Please continue to pray for me as I wait for the Lord in His perfect timing.
On another note God answered my prayer that even though I haven't heard from the chaplain, I won't have to work in the kitchen - - praise the Lord! Instead, I will be an orderly in our unit as I wait. Please praise the Lord God miraculously orchestrated this through “Mr. N” and “SM” next door...