He says so:
New Year’s Eve exploded into a full-scale riot in my sixty-man jail pod.
I’m not sure how it started, but suddenly there was fighting. Shanks (homemade knives) came out. People were sliced and cut. Blood was everywhere. I climbed to my upper bunk and put my back against the corner, holding tight to my own uniquely crafted weapon. I eyed my opened cell door and prayed.
I couldn’t remember how long I had been in jail. After my arrest, I shut down—withdrew into myself, communicating only when necessary. I ate sporadically. I quit shaving. From the top of my head to the bottom of my beard, I was physically a mess. It was summer and hot when I was arrested, but then it’s always hot in Florida.
Christmas was pretty much a non-event in jail. Alone on my bunk, I had read the Christmas story in Luke from a little New Testament that fit in the palm of my hand. The story I had read since childhood rang familiar, but some of the elements seemed to strike a chord beyond the words.
For the first time, I was actually reading, pondering, and considering the words. They touched my heart in ways more significant than ever before. I began to realize the stories I had heard since my early years in Sunday school—and Jesus’ words, Come to me all you who are weary—were things I had never contemplated enough. Again and again, Jesus tells us to “come” to Him. I read through the four gospels several times until the life of Jesus simply stuck in my mind and heart.
The madness raged outside my cell. I cried to the Lord, pleading for Jesus to “come to me.” And He did. My body tensed at the sound erupting near my doorway. Startled by the loud noise of a grinding metal door closing me in, my soul was covered by relief. The correction officers had responded to the riot and were storming the pod.
Safe for the moment, I pulled a blanket over my head to hide the tears. God's love delivered me once again from my distress. His peace flowed through me. The words I had spent the last week planting in my heart suddenly sprouted. I belong to Him. Redeemed.
May all of us who have been redeemed of the Lord say so.
~ Kevin Spencer
She says so:
“End this God. Bring me peace.”
I quietly spoke those words as light filtered through a beautiful stained glass window above my head. I had sat alone in churches before, but this December afternoon was different. In the silence of that sanctuary, I had a rare moment of clarity. Life, as I was living it, could not continue.
I didn't know Jesus back then, but I did talk to God sometimes. As I prayed, I somehow knew He understood I needed the craziness in my life to end. But I didn’t know how difficult that “end” would be.
A few weeks later, I was in jail in solitary confinement. As I eased onto the edge of a metal cot, I remembered that previous afternoon. “God! What on earth were you thinking? This is not peace.” In the days leading up to my arrest, anger became an acid burning through my veins. I was numb to all pain and unconcerned about the consequences of my actions. I was falling hard and unaware God had already sent the Prince of Peace to catch me.
I came to realize we serve a most unusual God, and sometimes He answers our prayers in a most unusual way. God knew I needed to stop running. He knew what it would take and how long. And He knew who to send.
I was locked away for a month before I finally agreed to allow a woman to minister to me. The guards opened a small tray slot, located on the lower half of my cell door, so we could talk. I wasn’t ready to hear about Jesus. But as I kneeled down to peer through the small hole, I realized how ready I was to have a conversation with another human being—no matter what it was about.
Months later, I fell to my knees again on that same concrete floor and asked Jesus Christ to be the leader of my life. It changed everything. The freedom I had fought for suddenly became less important to me. For the first time in my life, I knew a different kind of freedom. I knew I was a redeemed child of God.
For the rest of our lives, may we continue to say so.
~ Patricia Lefler
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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Kevin Spencer Patricia Lefler