"An Inside Perspective"

November 2017

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Kitchen workers are generally a blessing to people in prison because they are allowed to bring back a certain portion of food from their respective jobs everyday. I think the administrative mentality is that if they allow them a bowl of food everyday, then they will not steal so much. Between you and me, their rationale is surprisingly naïve because now they just “get” twice as much as before. The workers then share/sell their food with whomsoever they will each day; therefore, everyone everywhere is blessed to some degree.

Well, about a year ago they changed my wing to “mostly” all kitchen workers. The administration decided, for whatever their reasons, that they wanted the kitchen workers on a single wing. Before that, they had been spread randomly around the whole jail. Now, they are all on two wings, and as such, all the food is also now on two wings. We have a very gracious officer, and she has kept us on her wing, by grace, for all these many years, for which we are extremely grateful.

Through it all, I am just grateful that the Lord has allowed Carlos and I to stay together in the same cell. As if that were not enough, with all the kitchen workers on “our” wing too, you can guess what that means – :)!! Since they all have food, they do not know what to do with it all, so everybody just gives it away. There is such an over abundance, and as Moses stated in Numbers 11:20, it is coming out of their nostrils!

Therefore, every day we get at least three or four bowls full. We then pick what we want to eat for the day and give the rest away. We try to minister to the new guys with it because, as of yet, they have nothing. We keep a couple of buckets outside our door, so if our door is locked and you have something for us, you can just leave it in our bucket. Not quite unlike your mailbox, I guess. Also, if we have something for someone, we can leave it in the bucket, so even if we are not there, they can still pick it up.

Carlos and I had developed a relationship with a new believer on our wing. We were feeding him daily with great joy. He knew the deal – check the bucket every day and there will be food in there for you. Everything was seemingly moving along just fine. Though, one particular day I saw him while he was on his way to recreation. He said he would pick up the bowl of food when he got back. Not a problem, I thought. Then, the next morning when I went out to empty my garbage, I noticed that the bowl was still in the bucket and that the food had all gone bad. The dude had forgotten to pick it up, and now the food stank!

It is written, “. . . behold, you have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Num. 32:23b)

Let me be transparent with you. Instead of thinking, “Maybe something happened to him; let me see if he’s alright.” In my self-righteousness I thought, “Here I am trying to bless this joker, and he can not even remember to pick the food up from out of the bucket! I am not feeding him anymore. I will find someone who really appreciates it (me)!”

No sooner did I have that sinful thought when the Lord immediately impressed upon my heart, “Philip, you do that to Me all the time!” Instantly, I was slain by the Word of the Lord and cut to my heart. Daily, the Lord leaves us blessings right outside of our door expecting us, by faith, to pick them up. By the Holy Spirit, I then began to be reminded of all the times that I had been blessed of the Lord and left my blessing in the bucket!

Woe was me. I am so glad that the Lord does not have an attitude like I did. In essence, I had actually thought in my heart, “How dare this joker disrespect my blessing to him. Does he not know all the effort I went through to get this food to him?” After 26 plus years of walking with the Lord, I was ashamed to have had such thoughts. I wondered, “How can these things still be, Lord? Cleanse me, please!”

Thankfully, I know that it is the very nature of the Lord to teach. He was showing me what was still in my heart. I would not have seen it myself – it needed to be illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Ugly as it was, I needed to see it.

I wonder how many times the Lord has left blessings in your bucket. God desires to bless your life, and through it, the lives of others. Maybe you have not noticed, or perhaps your heart is so hardened that you never even check your bucket anymore. How many blessings do you suppose have gone bad in your bucket because you have not remembered to pick them up by faith? And now. . .