"An Inside Perspective"

March 2017

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! It was a beautiful winter’s day, just three days before the 2017 New Year’s celebration. Carlos and I had just received our bi-annual holiday food package (compliments of my Mom and sister Kevy); and by grace, we had another one on the way. Twenty-six years now and my family has never once missed sending us goodies for the holidays! If I had anything to do with it, great would be their reward in glory!

That day, I had gotten up and gone to work just like any other day. I did my daily greenhouse chores and came back to my wing and showered. I then took a late afternoon catnap; again, just like any other day. Carlos, the only begotten son of my heart, was on his top bunk typing away, as was his norm for the last 16 years. With a queer joy, he would occasionally poke, if not prod, me lovingly with his three-foot homemade paper “stick” with which he quelled my ever-persistent snoring. I knew that I aggravated him with my snoring, but his love for me was so deep that he chose to stay with me rather than opt for a single cell. I was grateful; he is my joy! Jacob and Joseph knew no deeper love than we. As my brother Tommy Sloan likes to chime in, “We loved each other (Carlos and I) as much as a man can love another man and still be a man.”

Suddenly, in the biblical “twinkling of an eye,” the Officer burst into my cell declaring in haste, “Reardon get ready, you are going to Northern State Prison—you have five minutes!” I was stunned out of my sleep, almost falling off of my bunk in shock, all the while seeking to grasp the severity, if not the horror of the moment. I was mouthing prayers, trying to go to the bathroom and pack an overnight bag all at once. To be honest, I was barely awake and my mind was in a panic. There was absolutely no remedy.

As long as I live, I will never forget the look on Carlos’ face as “that which we feared the most—had come upon us!” (Job 3:25) We were in stunned silence and knew not what to say or how to act. We had shared sweet fellowship, by the Lord’s grace, in the same cell together for 16 years. Six years in Trenton, and now 10 years at Rahway.

I thought—it is finished. At once, I understood the crucifixion as never before. The separation of the Father and the Son, indeed, a theological knot difficult to untie was suddenly manifest in my spirit. Hastily, the saints gathered around me and prayed; seconds later—I was gone.

Forthwith, they stripped me naked, probed me and threw me in the back of a metal dog-cage for transport, all the while cuffed to the point of pain, my hands and feet. “Lord,” I

thought, “am I not broken enough yet – is there more of me to crush?” Before I knew it, I was blazing down the road. A couple of horrifying hours later, after assorted “inspections” that you may only imagine, they dumped me into “the trailers,” a dormitory setting (my worst nightmare), with 140 other men!

I was twelve days in the same clothes when my property finally found me two weeks later. Don’t get me wrong; I am not a pansy. I know how to “jail” (survive) as they say in the joint. I was a street person once – remember? I had navigated brutal homeless shelters in my addiction. But, my stars, Lord! Beloved, when you are on the Lord’s express train, you don’t always know where you are going, but thank God you do know the Engineer! Philip the evangelist and I both will testify of such! (Acts 8:39)

It is written, “And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.”(Psalm 30:6)

More than two months have now passed. Time clarifies perspective. I learned afresh that the Lord is more interested in our spiritual prosperity than that of the flesh. Carlos and I were living as kings, albeit in prison, but physical comfort does not necessarily beget spiritual fruit, but often hinders.

For the first six weeks I struggled very hard to see by faith. It seemed as if a wall had been erected. I simply could not walk by faith. I strained with every fiber of my being to go back to Rahway. I exercised every juice card I had in the Kingdom deck. The Lord would not budge.

Truth be told, the Lord is bringing me “home” not “back” to Rahway. We often have to be forcibly removed from our comfort zone. I have about 52 months to go. I am not looking forward by faith. All of you have been with me “through it all” as the song says. I just turned sixty, and I know you will pray me home.

So therefore, this month I am also thanking you for your prayers and for your never-ending loving support all these many years. Let us not fight the Lord when He does what He does; let Him search us. One fine day we will all be snatched away to glory, once and for all, and believe you me, we will never look back! Beloved, I wonder if through the process of time my precious son Carlos now…