"An Inside Perspective"

May 2007

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ! By the grace of God I became a Christian fifteen years and ten months ago. During that time, all my needs and many of my wants have been met by the Lord, even, while in prison. It is written, "My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

In January, when I was being shipped here to Rahway, I was packing up my property and was rushed to get it done. I had on a pair of nice sneakers. In the rush, I forgot I had them on and when all the boxes were packed and gone it was too late. You see when prisoners travel, we must wear prison issued state boots only. I had no choice but to leave my sneakers with a friend there in Trenton. No problem I thought, I can bless someone and then, Lord willing, I'll get a new pair when I get to Rahway. Good plan, right? So I thought . . .

Well, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that will prevail." It is now May sixteenth and twice a month, for the last four months, I have attempted to order new sneakers. I am always met with the dreaded "out of stock."

By the grace of God, I did have a ratty pair of old sneakers in my property to hack around in. They were not the "Sunday go to meeting" type of sneaker that I would wear to church but they would do.

I am now wearing those ratty old sneakers to do everything in. I am jogging, working-out, playing basketball, and yes, you guessed it, wearing them to church also. I know that the Lord is not out of stock, so I know He is teaching me through this. I have observed a bit of grumbling in my heart each time the order comes back "out of stock." I was not a good example, so I repented. I shall grumble no more, but be thankful.

About a week ago, I was sitting in church and I started to smell something akin to an old goat. I started looking at the guys around me and everybody looks pretty well kept. I'm thinking, "What is that smell?" I look down and think to myself, "My stars, that's me! It's my ratty old sneakers!" I was very embarrassed and I tried to play it off like nothing was wrong. It didn't work though because wherever I went it seemed as if a foul old goat was following me around!

Much to my encouragement about the same time, we received word that the store finally got sneakers in stock. I ordered them again, but once again, I was told they were "out of stock." Only the Lord knows when I will get them now.

Well, that is the last straw for me in this sneaker drama! I am resolved, I must now resort to drastic measures! I decide to go "old school" and I get out my bucket and soap. I go to town soaking and washing the old goats---I mean sneakers. Surprisingly, they come out fairly well. I had taken out the laces and they were at the bottom of the bucket soaking. I next poured the dirty water down the toilet, flushing it at the same time. Then at the last second, as sovereignty would have it, I see my shoelaces getting sucked in the bottomless pit! Now, I have "clean" ratty old sneakers with no laces. Yes Lord---I'm listening?

After all this, as I walk to the store to get the rest of my order I'm thinking, "Where will I get shoe-laces for my old goats? I turn to my Christian Brother Tommy, who I am walking with, and I explain to him how my laces went down the commode. He smiled and casually says, Oh, don't worry Philip, I ordered a pair of shoelaces last week and I am going to pick them up now. I don't need them, in fact, I'm not even sure why I ordered them?" I knew immediately why and smiled in my heart at the Lord's constant provision.
It seemed as if the Lord was saying to me, "Philip, have you been so long with Me and still you don't know me? Oh ye of little faith." It was a loving rebuke. I received it and stood corrected. It is not about my sneakers. Half the world I'm sure would love to walk around in my ratty old goats! He who owns the shoe-laces on a thousand hills, will He not also freely, along with them give me sneakers---in "His time!"

Have you ever sat in church and heard a sermon that convicted you, and yet, you applied it to someone else' life? That's what I did with my sneakers. My sneakers stank bad but I immediately looked at others as the problem. Sometimes we are embarrassed for others to know and we play it off as if it's not us. Sound familiar? Don't worry, " . . . Be sure your sin will find you out." At other times, you have to lose your laces to learn your lesson. (smile) The truth is that sin stinks and the Lord is only pleased when we say, "My stars, that's me!"

"Do you have any foul old goats following you around?"

Joyfully in Jesus,
Fisherman Philip