"An Inside Perspective"

May 2016

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I was once again, standing in a cage. It has simply been the story of my life for the last 25 years. In prison, we go from cage to cage. As such, last Monday I was in a cage waiting to come back from work. They had called a code 22 which is a “stand-up count,” meaning the whole jail has to immediately stop what they are doing and go back to their cells (cage) to be counted. A “stand-up count” is a very serious situation, as such, I did not get to wash up and change my clothes as is my normal practice. I have a giant slop sink at work which doubles as my wash basin. I wash myself and my clothes daily after work, as I am able, before I come back to my wing for a full hot shower.

This particular day however, I did not get a chance to wash up. I had my work clothes on and I was “honking!” I therefore hustled to the front of the line because I was in desperate need of a shower! I work hard, very hard as unto the Lord; sweat, dirt and goose dung are my daily portion. As you may guess, by the end of the day I am not the sweetest smelling flower in the proverbial bouquet! (smile)

We were outside and I was standing in the front of the cage. It began to fill up with men who were going back to the main building, myself included. We wait in the cage, especially in the winter, like the penguins of Antarctica huddled together against the elements. This day however, I was purposely the lead penguin and the wind was in my face making everyone else, much to their consternation, down-wind of me.

I am laughing even now as I write this. We are all men here and basically we do everything together. We shower, eat, and go to the bathroom in each others presence, yes, number one and two everyday. Banter is the norm, usually exchanged in a fun-loving, albiet brutal way as not to take ourselves to seriously, then, we keep it moving toward that shower! (smile)

Well, as the Lord would have it, my brother John was right behind me. He said, “Wow, brother Philip is that you?” I immediately became defensive and said, “What are you talking about - - - I just washed these clothes yesterday!” He said, “Something smells very earthy around here! Yo Philip, is that a goose or is that you “honking” like that?” He was looking me right in the eye, yet being polite, because he sees me as an elder and wanted to afford me that respect. The truth be told though, when you are “honking” you are “honking” and there is no respect of persons!

Bless the Lord, I knew in my heart that I did indeed smell like an old goat. How did I know that you might ask? Well, you can not work like a government mule in the hot sun everyday and not smell like an old goat; it is simply not possible. I again said defensively, “It must be something else - - - I don't think that's me.” Now, other people were starting to pay attention to the conversation and I was really becoming embarrassed and so I just came clean - - - no pun intended! Ha! We all then had a good laugh about it. The fact of the matter is that we were all coming from our various shops and we were all “honking” to one degree or another. There is a queer solace when others are “honking” along with you.

As is my habit, I reflected on it later. There was three things that stood out to me. Firstly, I observed that I was very used to the earthy smell, and therefore, I could not smell myself. Secondly, it took another brother's honesty to tell me. He did not have to tell me, but he chose to, and, he did it lovingly without judgment. Finally, I asked myself, “Why was I so defensive?” I concluded, I really do care, to some degree, what other people think of me. I observed that I was initially so embarrassed that I was willing to deny the problem rather then to receive loving counsel and get cleansed.

It is written, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)

Firstly, we can go from cage to cage in our spiritual walk if we are not careful, even from one stronghold to the next. Beware though, when your walk is “honking” the Lord will call a spiritual “stand-up count” for you and cause you to be confronted with your own sin for there is no respect of persons with the Lord.

Secondly, many times the Lord will initially and lovingly use another believer, because you cannot smell yourself in your own sin. Is there a sin in “your” life that is causing you to “honk”? Do people down-wind of your walk smell an earthy or Heavenly scent? Yes, there is a queer solace when others are “honking” with us in our sin; be their Moses and lead them out.

Finally, at times we were all “honking” to one degree or another. As we work in this world, we sometimes get defiled. Don't become defensive about it, just come clean and get under the Blood! There is a final “stand-up count” coming; the trump will sound and every Christian will immediately stop what they are doing to meet the Lord in the air. Just like me in the cage, you will not have time to clean up! Yo Christian, is that a goose or is that your walk . . .