Friday, December 10, 2010

to touch a life

This morning's sunrise

12/10/10 Friday
It’s Friday, already. This morning I’m debating what to do, and what to put off doing. At the core of this debate is the question “What is really important”. I have worked to prepare laying the hardy board on the floor of the bathroom and had planned on doing that this morning. However I’ve learned that the person I’ve been teaching at the jail will likely be sent to prison early next week. The sheriff wasn’t clear about it, just told me, in response to my saying that I planned on visiting the jail at least twice a week in order to teach the inmate, that if I come after Monday he probably won’t be there. I understand that in the realm of things, regarding security about prisoner movement, that these things are generally kept secret. The prisoner knows that he will most likely be going to prison but hopes to be granted parole, having seen the parole board in April and still awaiting their decision. What will be happening I don’t know, it’s just hinted at that something will happen soon, and as a result I have a shortened window to help him understand his new found faith.

I visited the jail yesterday and spent two hours with J. (I will use the initial of his name to protect his identity and because it’s more comfortable than constantly referring to him as the “prisoner” or “inmate”) He’s currently the only guy housed in the jail, other than the trustee, whom I’ve seen only once as he’s free to roam and perform a variety of duties around the courthouse.

J has talked to me extensively about his family and the great concerns he has for them. He is a man who is truly aware, and repentant, of the mistakes he’s made and the consequences of them on the lives of others. His son had Leukemia and while being cured of it sustained serious damage to his brain. As a result the son has serious seizures and is greatly impaired regarding his ability to think things through, operating at a child’s level of cognizance.

J has been trying to study the bible but it is often incomprehensible to him. There are a lot of big “church” words, such as “Sanctification” who’s meanings are lost on him. Heck, the meanings of many of these words and concepts are lost on people who’ve gone to church all their lives. J said he had started to read the first book of Peter, and didn’t get very far before he gave up, so that’s where I started.
Rascal and Trixie, as they accompanied me to take pictures of the sunset. We sure do miss Ben, Gretchen, and Midnight, who were killed, but are extra protective of these two.

I could quickly see why it was so hard for him to understand. In the two hours I was there we only got to verse ten. There is so much packed into just those first few sentences, so many concepts and doctrines, that, for someone who has no background or knowledge of the faith it might as well have been written in Greek.

I started out by showing J who Peter was and read to him about how Jesus said to Peter “Follow me” and that Peter left everything behind, his business, boats, and family, to do so. I related this to J in that we all, when we accept Christ as our savior, must surrender all to follow our Lord. The first ten verses of First Peter covers being born again, sanctification, our hope for eternal life, the gift of God, how the Lord will protect us till that day we stand before the judgment seat, the prophesies written thousands of years before telling how Jesus would die to give us life, and a few other things. All of it lays the foundation of what it means to be a Christian well.

Knowing that J may not be there next week spurs me to spend as much time as I can preparing him for the life ahead. Thus the debate. Part of my creed, what is carved on the plaque that hangs on the office wall, says “Money and things can vanish in a flash. What has lasting value, is the lives we touch”. This creed, this central truth I choose to live by, is the reason I must sacrifice working on the bathroom and head into town to visit J. It’s frustrating for us to be stuck without a bathroom, and an indirect result of that is Cherie fracturing a bone in her foot, but when all is said and done a man’s life is far more important. I will trust that God will help provide for us regarding the bathroom.

I got a card yesterday from the prison we minister in. Was surprised when I opened it and found it was signed and had notes from many of the inmates who sat at my table during both of the Kairos events I participated in. Brought tears to my eyes as I read some of the notes of thanks and love out loud to Cherie, telling how I had touched their lives. I had been debating making the two hour journey to the prison tonight, and that card ended the debate. I’ll be going to the prison tonight for sure.

So I don’t have a lot of time to write now. Have to get ready and head for the jail. Will look online real quick and see if there’s something I can download and print that will help J understand his bible. Need to wash my hair in the kitchen sink and clean up before I go, so bye.

J is gone. He’s off to prison. The sheriff on duty let me know that J’s lawyer has been putting this off for quite some time, using all the tricks he could to delay this. We had talked the day before about how people use the welfare system and don’t like to work, an interesting conversation where he expressed his opinion. It’s an opinion I share, to a point. So J is gone and I pray that the words I shared with him will fall on good soil, resulting in great fruit and a changed life.

Now it’s time to work on my bathroom floor. This gives me more time to do that but before I forget I need to call around and make sure I can get a ride to the prison in Ft Stockton.

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