Today’s column was written by an inmate who is incarcerated at a Virginia Department of Correction facility. My wife and I have been ministering to him for nearly two years. Thankfully, not all of us know what it is like to serve time in a physical prison. However, many of us have been imprisoned spiritually. The man who wrote this is named Randy. May God’s blessings be upon each of you in the week ahead.
When everything in your life has been stripped away from you, you may discover that the only thing left to you, the only thing that cannot be taken from you, is God and your belief in God. It can sustain you.
In the real world, it’s easy to forget about your connection to God. There are so many distractions that God may become lost in the melee of everyday life. Perhaps the best thing about God is that when you need Him, even after years of ignoring Him, He is always there for you.
Despite the many tortures you may encounter daily in prison, all you really need to do is close your eyes and meditate or pray, and He is with you. He calms your troubles, eases your pain, and enriches your life, but you must be willing to reach out to Him. Make the effort.
God exists in all things. He is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good, everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. When you touch God, you will know it. You will feel joy, contentment and elation. You’ll feel His presence throughout your very being. He may not speak to you using words, but He will still communicate and guide you.
After years of prayer for God to cure my mother’s cancer, after even offering for Him to give me the cancer instead of her, and after pleading with Him to get me out of prison, God answered my prayers. He gave me cancer and in so doing, proved His love for me.
Well over a decade later, my mother still lives. She still struggles with cancer, but she continues to live. When He gave me cancer, God also gave me a choice. I could die quickly, and in so doing be out of prison quickly, or I could choose to endure a while longer, do as God instructs, and maximize my life and productivity. I chose the latter.
My cancer diagnosis was five years ago. In 2012 and again in 2015, I was advised by two different physicians that my life was as good as over, that I had less than a year to live. I still choose to be as productive as possible, given the constraints of prison. Nothing about prison is designed for creativity, productivity, or personal growth, but I do my best, and so can you.
Pain can be a problem, but the cancer pain is usually brief in duration. The arthritis pain is more pervasive and debilitating. Fatigue is a real problem, but I accept it as an endurable side effect. I consider myself reasonably productive, and I maintain a routine that includes exercise, work, meditation, prayer and art. Artwork provides me with the best opportunity for creativity and productivity, and it is rather meditative in nature. My fellow inmates often tell me that my artwork makes them feel good, and when you get right down to it, that is as much as anyone in prison may aspire. God is good!
So, if you are in prison or facing a term in prison, especially a lengthy one, and if you are feeling lost and isolated, try meditation and prayer. It works for me and what do you have to lose? It’s a very private and personal experience. No one else need know about it, and you don’t even need a Bible to commune with God.
You may not realize anything positive is happening to you at first, but be persistent. It will pay off in the long run. A positive outlook on life is very important in prison, so take the time to find God. He can help you when nothing else seems to do so.