"An Inside Perspective"

September 2009

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! In prison it is a great privilege to be able to gather for worship. By law the state must allow us one hour per week, therefore, having two worship services on Sunday is a blessing.

I wasn't seeing it that way yesterday. It seemed as if I was stuck in a dark spot and could not find my freedom in the spirit. I was a bit cranky and no matter how hard I tried, I just could not worship properly. I was unable to focus on the music I was supposed to be playing. I couldn't seem to hear from the Lord during the preaching either, not a crumb from the Lord's table. Afterward, I felt ashamed at the way I had played my guitar. In my heart I cried, "Lord forgive me, what is wrong with me?"

It is now the next day and I still feel the same way. Truth be told I didn't even want to write this. Sister Debbie and I have dubbed this experience "the dark cloud." It seems that no matter what I do I can not get out from under it. It is dark and foreboding. It feels as if the very presence of the Lord has left me. Everything comes across as negative and no matter how full the cup, it still appears half empty. I wonder, "Is it just me Lord? Is it something that I have done, or perhaps not done? Do other believers experience this? Have these nineteen years in a prison cell finally taken their toll on me?"

It is written, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." I read that verse today and I thought, "O.K., I am just weary, it is biblical, this too shall pass." Then I said to myself, "Let me do a word study on that word weary so that I can then encourage myself and others with what I find." Well, I did not like what I found, but of a truth, it motivated me!

The word weary is ekkakeo in the Greek. It denotes cowardice and faint-heartedness! It can also mean unfortunate or desperate. It is usually translated to lose heart! What! Are you serious? Am I a faint-hearted coward in Christ? God forbid! Unfortunately I never want to be considered unfortunate! I am of all men the most fortunate to have been redeemed of the Lord! Indeed, I have experienced a radical redemption by the precious blood of Christ. As far as being desperate---I am desperate, but only for the Lord's manifest presence in my life.

Fortunately, I have learned in the Lord's school of hard knocks that we don't operate our Christian walk according to our feelings. Thankfully, truth remains truth, despite our feelings. The beauty of truth is that Godís Word never wavers. Our hope is steadfast in His Word, it is our anchor within the veil. When the dark cloud comes, our heart instinctively cleaves to His truth in silent victory, despite our feelings.

Have you ever had the dark cloud envelop your walk? I know that you have because it is of Him. We grope about in the darkness until we find Him again and the finding is of the sweetest fragrance. In the midst, we ponder the Lordís purpose in it all. We then realize afresh how absolutely we need Him, and that we can not live without Him. There is nothing apart from Christ.

You do know that I am generally, if not always, up beat in the Lord and filled with His joy. Today though, I wanted you to feel my struggles and walk hand in hand with me. That's how we get past the dark cloud. The other members of the Body carry us. Today I saw the brothers walking by the greenhouse and I said with no shame, "Pray for me please, I am struggling." You know what? I know they prayed because they have been where I was.

Usually, I write out of joy but today the Lord has allowed me to write out of weariness. Even now though, I am starting to feel better! The sun is just now shining through my window right onto my ripening tomatoes even as I type this! Who am I Lord that I should have homegrown tomatoes ripening on my window sill in prison? They've been on the sill all along but the Lord has just now shed new light on them for me. I love the Lord!

Faint not beloved! It was our Lord in Genesis that commanded the light to shine in the darkness. It is He that has also "translated us out of the Kingdom of darkness and into His marvelous light!" You are not alone in your weariness. It is written of our Lord Himself , "Jesus therefore being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well ... " He was tired, He was worn from his journey. Jesus was weary. His flesh was as a ball and chain to His spiritual walk. Are you tired and weary on your journey? Is your flesh as a ball and chain to your Christian walk? Of course it is. Do as did the King. Sit on the well and drink. Jesus is the well. He said, "If any man be thirsty, come unto Me and drink ... " Drink deeply weary one, then get up soldier and observe your tomatoes ...