Vacation Days in Prison

This message was written by my brother in Christ Richard Williams and is being posted here with his permission:

March 24, 2015

Last week ended for me with three days in Huntsville Texas and two of them inside the walls of a couple prison units. It was an amazing experience of God’s grace, His work, and His concern for every perishing life in this world as my time was spent with inmates that had no way of being processed out as freely as me. A Pastor friend of mine recently said “God has no idle moments” and I would add there is no place where God is not and no heart He does not want. There is also no offense that our Holy Father can not forgive since this is the reason He gave His son Who gives life and sets us free.

Having no way of knowing what to expect, I found myself—once again in the middle as we all are in the middle somewhere—sharing the message of God and His gospel whereas other times I was hearing the reality of God, His love, His forgiveness, His life changing work and the power and contentment of a transformed mind, heart, and life. The word contentment may not seem appropriate. But even in the lack of worldly physical freedom where one outfit was all one had to wear and the food to eat was what ever was placed on a tray, with some inmates that were in relation with Jesus Christ through the indwelling of The Holy Spirit, there was a sense of contentment and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

I could spend time writing about the few in my small circle of influence that I believe may have accepted the gift of Christ and came to an understanding of the gospel for the first time, or the many that were claimed by the group as a whole, but I know there are those on this list that don’t have that understanding and are not in agreement with me. I try not to hold anyone’s belief against them for my attempt is to leave that up to God while being held to my responsibility to speak the truth. But my hope is that none will hold my reliance on Jesus against me even though I know that day is coming— if not already here— and my attempt is to be predetermined to ask God to forgive.

I’d like to take this time to share a little of what an inmate shared with me. This man knew he was a sinner. I know I’m a sinner too, but I would venture to say he may have a better understanding. He knows as some of you do too that when held to the holy standards of God’s righteousness, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). None is righteous, no, not one (Rom 3:10). He knows that because of sin he is deserving of death, but he found eternal life through Jesus (Rom 6:23) because he knows Jesus is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6). He heard the knock and let Him in (Rev 3:20). He understood that when he confessed, God was just to purify him from his unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and he declared Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9). He knows what it means to repent (Acts 2:38). He knows where Jesus is and what He’s doing (Rom 8:34). And he knows why we will be celebrating soon with hidden eggs and chocolate bunnies, but he probably won’t be celebrating that way. What amazed me was his understanding of the reprobate mind which he said was revealed to him in 2 Timothy. We talked a little about a repentant heart, the importance of repentance and how it appears that the preaching of repentance is not as prevalent in today’s society or church culture as it might have been in the past. This man had life experience and is older than this middle aged man writing you now.

The time spent with him was in a geriatric unit. I had never really given this much thought, but in the cycle of life we deal with different concerns or ailments at different stages in our lives. Like our need for reconciliation to God which is no different for the prisoner as it is for you or me, this concern of different needs at different stages is no different in prison than on the outside. That day I talked with men from age 55 to 86. Yes, there is a man in his last year of a 20 year sentence who is now 86 years old and he told me a story about being part of a Canadian Christian motorcycle club where he put over 74 thousand miles on a 1947 Harley Davidson. We didn’t get into his crime, but I must admit the question in my mind is how this life ended up here? The other thought was that he was approximately my age when he first went in and if not by the grace of God perhaps that could be me and I realize on my own I am more than capable of falling when I think I stand (1 Cor 10:12). He was a joyful man and one of the other inmates said that he is up and about more than most the others and he can out walk most of them. There were a few in wheel chairs and some with walkers, but none were excluded from the humiliation of open public stripping down upon return to the building after being out in the moisture from the rain coming through the covered walkways on the way to the recreation center with us. By recreation center I mean an open concrete slab basketball court with a metal roof over it and old style cable weight machines to the side. I can only imagine how recreational it is in the July/August heat of east Texas.

The reprobate mind that the previous man discussed was very enlightening to me. There may be some reading this that have more understanding of this than I, whereas others may not have a clue as to what the term even means. Keep in mind that I’m not a scholar, nor well educated and have no bonafide credentials. I am a truck driver by trade and am speaking to you as a struggling Christian with concern for the eternal well being, salvation, and walk with God of everyone I know. When sincerely thought about, the consequence of a reprobate mind can be a very sobering and frightening thought, but what it basically boils down to is the rejection of a loving God and thus suffering His wrath because of suppressing the truth that is within the reprobate mind. It refers to the resistance of truth because of a corrupt mind. I can see why it is not a popular topic and I haven’t heard preachers yelling it out from the pulpit because it probably wouldn’t fill a lot of pews or in this day and age of theater type seating.

I can look back on my life and see this reprobate mind once alive and active in me and I pray to God that He continue His good work in me to battle any way of thinking along those lines. I would appreciate your prayers too. Furthermore, I would appreciate input from those of you further along in the faith and walking close to the Lord with deeper understanding and opportunity of higher education to share your God given wisdom on this subject. I’m throwing this out there for those to whom it makes no sense in hopes that you will consider it along with the concept of the wrath of God: Not as some sort of judgment on my part because that is not my intent nor my duty. But from what I understand and believe, there will come a time when that judgment will take place and it will be from the only One that really matters. Imagine an all powerful, loving, but just God displaying His wrath and having to carry out justice for those that reject His Plan of Justice and Salvation for a world He loves because they refused to accept the truth of His Son taking that wrath upon Himself in order to spare those Jesus knows. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of it and I know it can sound bizarre and strange to those that have no understanding of it, but my prayer is that you live up to the understanding you have and that you grow to seek God to a higher understanding, faithfulness, and obedience. My prayer is that first step of seeking, learning and accepting the simple truth of the gospel be taken in all our lives. I pray that those who don’t know the truth about Jesus will come to know, accept, believe, and repent. And I pray that we all walk in obedience with a repentant heart and don’t succumb to the evils of this world, our own pride,or get fooled by our religious activities. In 2 Tim 3:8 it talks about the resistance of truth because of a corrupt mind where as in Titus 1:16 there is talk about those that profess to know God yet it also says they are detestable, disobedient and unfit. I don’t know who those are and you don’t know if it’s true about me. If it sounds like I’m throwing stones, I’m not. I’m trying to eliminate stones that may be thrown. It’s not up to me to know your relationship with God. It’s up to me to nurture and protect my relationship with Him. You don’t know if my relationship is real, but He does and I better know too. My prayer is that you are secure in your Salvation, that you know Jesus, HE knows you, and that you know where you will be if you happen to physically die sometime soon.

While driving away from the prison on the last day of the trip through the piney woods during some heavy rain, I touched the seek button on the radio to find a frequency to listen to. The first thing I heard was that the Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay, had purchased one of John Lennon’s guitars at auction for a sum of five hundred and thirty thousand dollars. Over a half of million dollars. Hmm… What a sharp contrast from where I had just left and where their focus was. I can only imagine the culture shock of being released after spending years in prison, not just one day by choice. Oddly enough it was March of 1966 when John Lennon first made a comment along the lines of the Beatles being more popular than Jesus Christ which led to the demise of their concert touring, though they remained a studio band. I’m not going anywhere with that, but I found the timing interesting.

I’m still processing what all took place and I have an image in my mind left over when three inmates and I ended prayer as we stood circled together with our arms around one another’s shoulder and our heads bowed. It was of another Richard across from me and when I opened my eyes to look up. He was grinning from ear to ear as he wiped tears from his steel blue eyes while saying “in the name of Jesus.” I wouldn’t trade that moment for the above mentioned guitar.

Some may doubt my God and others of us may spend time debating whether Melchizedek is a Christophany or not, but no one can take that moment from me or convince me that God isn’t real.

This is my seventh year of attempting to be in step with The Lord and although He is ALWAYS faithful, I freely admit that I am not and I ask for prayer that I am more faithful to Him as each day passes.

God bless you all,
Richard Williams