Monday, May 13, 2019 -
Andree Seu Peterson in her World magazine column this week told of a man she knows who was in prison for 10 years for a murder he didn’t commit. He became a Christian there, like others I’ve met here, and his life radically changed.
When he was to go before the parole board, he intended to do the standard thing they wanted to hear – that you are sorry for your crime, but have changed for the better. But when a fellow inmate, also a believer, found out that’s what he planned, he told him, “You can’t do that, you are a Christian now. You have to tell the truth. God works with truth and not lies, ‘cause God is truth.”
This inmate had always been told faking repentance was your best way to get parole, but when the day came, he told the parole board he didn’t do the crime. But the man on the board said, “I read through your case and I don’t think you did it either.” He was paroled.
This made me think back to my case when I was offered a plea bargain on at least three occasions, including the day my trial began. “Plead guilty, and agree to testify, and you’ll get no prison time,” they told me. But for me, too, that would have been a lie, for I wasn’t guilty of any crime. I, however, didn’t think I’d end up in prison as I still had a very misguided trust in the justice system in this country. That, I soon found out, is a farce.
I’ve had people ask me if I should have taken the plea bargain, and I’ve contemplated it. But, I have to say, unless I could have done so without pleading guilty, there’s no possible way because it would have been a lie. And so, here I am in prison, but I know I am here for a reason. Over this past weekend, two of the men reminded me what they’d told me shortly after I arrived, that I am here specifically for them.
Then, yesterday in chapel service, the chaplain told us we are here either because God wants us to learn something, or because He has some ministry for us to do or both! One of the men, who just the previous evening, told me I’m here just for him, was sitting next to me. He also told me, in addition to being here just for him, “and probably for all prisoners everywhere.” Immediately after the chaplain said “or both,” he turned and looked at me, as if to say, “I told you so.”
So while sticking to the truth didn’t get me off the hook in terms of prison time, I can live with a free conscience. I stuck to the truth, and God’s got some plans now for me I’d never know about if I hadn’t told the truth. Not only that, God has used this time to show me many marvelous things from His word, allowed me to speak into the lives of men I’d have never met, and matured Kathie and me as believers in preparation for the next phase of our lives. We are excited to see what He has in store!
Whenever I get discouraged about being in prison, the Lord seems to remind me, “What’s three years compared to eternity?” Just think about that amazing truth. I have an eternity to look forward to, so what're a measly three years? I need to make the most of every opportunity God gives me while I have the chance! For my life is but a “vapor” (James 4:14), and my citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). For “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of things, and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ…that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:8, 10-11).