"An Inside Perspective"

July 2006

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ!
I now have the biggest cell in the whole prison, but it is still just that---a cell. The window is also the best one in the prison, four feet by four feet, swinging wide open to a wonderful view over the stonewall. Sometimes, I gaze over the wall and dream of what it would be like to be on the other side, as a free man in Christ. I have never seen the world as a saved man. I have not had a television, by choice, for fifteen years. Therefore, my perspective of the outside world is shaped solely by my Bible, my radio, those that visit me and these very high, thick, razor covered, stonewalls.

Guess what is directly in front of my window? You guessed it, a church! It is only a short stones-throw away. The Lord has His ways of keeping our eyes fixed on things above, right? (Smile) I can see right in the huge front window and watch the saints coming and going. My heart is stirred as I see them gathering for Wednesday night prayer meetings. I think to myself, "wouldn't it be awesome if I could be privileged, one day to have that opportunity!"

Sadly, from what I understand, very few attend Wednesday prayer anymore. I wonder to myself, why? Have they grown cold in their faith? Perhaps they were never hot? Or, are they just lazy and materialized, just too busy for prayer? It all seems so strange to me from behind these stonewalls.

The thing that I long for more than anything, this side of glory, is to love and serve a Godly woman. It would be my highest privilege to one day, serve a woman who exalts her Savior above all. I yearn to worship Jesus Christ, the sovereign Monarch over all creation, hand in hand with the woman of His choosing. I ache for quiet moments of heart to heart wordless communion, that only God's heart can hear---oh dream unspeakable and full of glory.

Yet, as I gaze by faith over this stonewall, there are some couples in Christ who can't even agree on what church to attend, let alone worship together. They are blessed beyond measure, but seem to lack the sweetest grace of all, communion in worship. I pray that God would show them that they possess the very dream I pray daily to come true and yet, they aren't living it. It all seems so strange to me from behind these stonewalls.

Sometimes, as I gaze over the wall by faith, I feel like I am caught in a time warp or something. I feel as if the world is passing me by. When I was first locked up, there was no Internet, no cell-phones, no fax machines, etc. The babies that I held in my arms then, are now grown and off to college! My seventy-year-old mother, may the Lord bless her, is driving a Hummer for goodness sake. Hallelujah! What is going on out there!

Today, I am honored by the Lord to be a fisher of men. I also aspire to just go fishing, a great love of my life. Watching the sunrise over the lake, slowly working my lure among the lilies, trying to draw a strike from the big fat largemouth. Birds worshipping their Provider as the world comes to life. Anyone who knows anything about fishing knows catching fish is really secondary to the true joy of fishing.

Likewise, we are to fish for the souls of men. Our great eternal Fisherman has taught us the value of building relationships and witnessing to the truth, regardless of the catch. We are to love the unlovable and met them at their point of need. It is about the Word of the risen Savior who said, "He that winneth souls is wise." The same gospel that wins souls on that side of this stonewall, wins them on this side too! "The Word of God is not bound." So let's keep preaching!!

As I listen over the wall, I can hear an occasional motorcycle go by, obnoxiously loud, just like I used to be, in what seems like a lifetime ago. I can't ride a motorcycle now. I can hear the melody of the ice-cream truck over the wall, every night, luring the children toward their evening delight. The melody stays in my mind, reminding me daily, of what I cannot have.

I am separate from all things beautiful---children playing, women singing, even, the smell of the ocean. The consequences of my sin are too much for me at times. It is very grievous.

No, this is not Philip's lament. I remain gratefully joyful. It is though, a reminder, to you who read this. You, on the outside of this stonewall. You, who can go to prayer meeting whenever you want. You, who can hold your spouses hand and worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness. You, who can take the time to watch the sunrise over the lake while you joyfully, catch nothing. You, who can eat ice cream of a hundred flavors. You, who can ride a motorcycle, watch children play and hear women sing. I exhort you to be radically thankful!