"An Inside Perspective"

February 2013


My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! In July of 1991, I was arrested and put in the county jail. A couple days after an arrest, the State has what is called an arraignment hearing. In it, they present to the judge the evidence against you and he then decides, according to that evidence, whether or not to convene a grand jury. They in turn would then decide if the State will bring a case against you.

In the process of such, I was handcuffed and shackled to another man that I did not know and taken from the county jail to the courthouse. That was the day I met Eddie. He was about my age, perhaps a few years younger and had a look of fear upon his face. I suspect he was a mirror image of myself at that point. I was also very fearful as I came out of my self-induced alcoholic haze and my new woeful reality slowly sank in.

Eddie looked at me and I at him and we both knew without words that we were in deep. From that moment on we had a unique relationship, a bond forged in the fire. We didn’t even know each other’s name at that point but we knew we were in it together. We both, under different circumstances, had taken a life and we knew the consequences would be deservedly severe.

When the arraignment was over, we were taken back to the county jail and placed on the same tier. We talked and became allies immediately. There had not yet been enough time to become friends, but we had no one else, and so our alliance was formed. In our grave circumstances it gave us comfort, albeit ever so slight.

Ten days later the Lord saved me and everything changed for me. It was dramatic, and immediately I had to tell everyone about Christ. I was right off the spiritual turnip truck and for the life of me, I just could not understand why everyone didn’t directly give themselves to Christ! To me it was clear as a bell and still is! Now though, I know the Book and understand the bondage of sin and the precious freeing grace of God.

Eventually, Eddie and I were both sentenced to thirty years and sent to Trenton State. By then, I had developed a serious soft spot for Eddie. He was very humble and to himself. He was a believer who was called to pray and he did just that. He prayed me through every step of my walk and supported me in all I did. I was the outward guy, he was the closet man. I would just give him the names of the men I was working with and he would pray.

Finally, twenty years later we both ended up in Rahway. Our hair was gone and a few teeth to boot but all was well, even awesome in the Lord Jesus! Our Father had carried us both on eagles wings through all those brutal years “in the system.”

Eddie would bring me milk every morning and I would in turn give him a bag of coffee a couple times a month. He was radically faithful. I will never forget once when he overslept and missed his delivery. He came to my cell later that day and was amazingly repentant because he had let me down. I was stunned at how it had affected him. He wanted to make it up to me so badly, all the while promising me he’d never do it again. To me it was a very light thing, but to Eddie, it was “everything.”

It is written, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance...” (2 Cor. 7:10a)

It dawned on me, “Am I like that when I sin against the Lord?” If Eddie after an earthly manner was so repentant at not keeping his word, how much more should not also we be when we sin against the Lord of Glory?

The whole thing was a great lesson and challenge to me. It made me reflect on my own perspective of sin. I have no doubt that what may appear light to me in the realm of sin, indeed looms exceedingly sinful and grievous to our Holy God. I reflected also on the fact that “one sin” had plunged all of mankind into his current depraved state. Can we then call sin light?

I learned afresh that sin is never light and most assuredly always has enormous snowballing consequences. Beloved, godly repentance comes only in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with that, a change. Any lack of change by definition eliminates repentance. I also observed that if we are not full of the Spirit as commanded, we will see sin from a fleshly perspective, and thus, make light of it. Eddie didn’t make light of his failure, to him it was “everything” that he had let me down.

Is it “everything” to you when you sin against the Lord? Did you know that it is very easy to get comfortable in our pet sins? When I say pet sins, I mean that which we know is dead wrong, but we love it and therefore practice it anyway. Our love for what we perceive is light sin has become stronger than our desire to obey the Lord unto holiness. In a hardened heart, such sin may loom light, but on the scales of Heaven, we shall be “weighed in the balances and found wanting!” (Dan. 5:27) Unlike the beer commercials, there is no such thing as sin-light! Beloved of God...