(Excerpt from a letter)
I hope the new year will treat you better. I’m still vacuuming up glitter around here. I think 75% of the Christmas cards in the store had glitter on them. The new ornaments had glitter on them. My mother’s stylist even wanted to put glitter in her hair at Christmas. I’m glad I could share some of this year’s holiday trends with you.
I knew it was the Holy Spirit that prompted me to look up your address and include you in my Christmas mailing. I’m glad to be an encouragement to you. That is the very heart of my ministry. No one can understand the prisoner better than one who has been in the same place.
“May the peace of God which surpasses human understanding guard your heart and soul in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:7 Even before finishing your letter I began praying for you and your whole family. Being locked up and helpless to assist during a time of family crisis is one of the worst aspects of incarceration. I empathize with how you are feeling and the concern that you have.
It was heartening to read that you are praying more. I have learned that prayer changes the one who prays it, even if you don’t see any response from the heavenly Father. So keep it up. We grow stronger as we surrender both our hopes and our fears to the one who knows us better than we know ourselves. Faith requires trust, so trust that God will heal in a way that is in his will. I will pass along your request for additional prayer from my church. I know from firsthand experience that “the earnest fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much” and that many hands make light work. When we ask anything in Jesus name he hears and honors our request.
Here it is near the end of January and I am sitting on the back patio wearing only sweats, writting this letter, drinking a cup of coffee, while listening to the birds and watching the squirrels play and soak up the sun. A widow maker fell in my yard, so yesterday I was out in the backyard with my brother working in the rain to cut up a fallen tree with a chainsaw. Sure beats shoveling snow.
Since one of my goals is to encourage those behind bars, feel free to give my mailing address to any Brother that wants a penpal. I want to make sure that guys are getting birthday and Christmas cards. It brought tears to my eyes to think that you haven’t been getting cards. The only ones I received this year were from Brothers behind bars and I treasure them. I’ve reached out to old friends and haven’t gotten any replys. But given how I used to be, I’m not suprised. I probably wouldn’t write me either. They don’t know the same guy you do.
I’ve started a daily devotional by Tim Keller that looks at the Book of Psalms verse by verse over an entire year. I’ve also got two books on prayer to read next from my mother’s library, one by Charles Spurgeon and the other by Andrew Murry. I don’t seem to have enough time to read everything that I want to. While I’m not getting as much writting done as I would like, I do have plenty of material to work with.
I did manage to write a brief meditation for you:
“When Ephraim spoke people trembled; he was exalted in Isreal. But he became guilty of Baal worship and died. Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of these people, ‘They offer human sacrifices!’ ‘They kiss calf-idols!'”Hosea 13:1-2 NIV
In this modern era there is still human sacrifice. We sacrifice our wives and children for the sake of our careers, our pleasures, and our selfish desires. What ever idol we place ahead of God and our family will destroy all that we shoud have held near and dear to our hearts. We hurt them deeply, often to the death of the relationship, as we vainly persue activities that have no eternal value, whose return on investment will utlimately cost us everything we have.
I learned this the hard way. Now I make an effort every day to put God first, then family, and things last. It is I who must be the sacrifice, but the rewards are worth it. I’m much happier now and experiencing less stress and more love towards God, my family, and myself.
Know that God is watching over you. Please keep in touch, update me with any changes to your or your family’s situation so I can pray for your specific needs. My heart goes out to you and your family. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” -James 5:7 I look forward to hearing good reports from you soon.
Keep the faith. Know that you are not forgotten. Your Brother in Christ.