Letter 23


Letter 23

I believe that for most of us, our experience with the “world” started at a very young age. In fact, I think that there are remarkable similarities between the story about Adam and Eve and their innocence, and the way that Satan came into their lives and exposed them to lies and deceitfulness. It seems to happen to most of us in a similar fashion. For whatever reasons, I believe that at some point we come to an early encounter with deception. We come to a place where we tell our first lie and get away with it.
In that single encounter, I believe that we enter into another realm of life. We manage to avoid punishment or judgment for whatever we may have done, but inside we have separated ourselves from those who love us or care for us. It is an experience that gives us great relief that we avoided punishment, but it also produces a sense of loneliness since we have moved away from our dependency upon those who love us. We have moved away emotionally and in that moment we experience separation from loved ones and separation from God.
For a young child that can be a frightening experience. It also becomes one of the first steps that we take away from others on our journey toward becoming an individual. Just like Adam and Eve, we make an inner decision that we know better and can make our own decisions. Now there are many reasons why this first experience with deception happens, some of them may be based upon our desire to avoid abuse or being disciplined for our wrong doings. But no matter what the reasons may be, when we take this step we move into another aspect of living and with that small step we begin to live a secret life that we do not share with anyone else.
Do you remember how Adam and Eve hid in the garden after their first sin? It is not an accident that we read this in the Bible. When we tell our first lie we move apart in the garden of our hearts and we hide from others. When that happens I create an environment inside of me where I cannot open myself up to others without revealing my flaws and faults. So I begin to live a secret life. It happens to everyone who has ever been born. But these are things that we usually do not speak about since we do not want to be rejected by others. What is remarkable in this situation is the fact that when we take this small step we are actively rejecting a precious part of our humanity. We become strangers to ourselves. When I do something that creates this kind of separation inside myself, I also move apart from everyone else in my life. I erect a barrier that keeps me from those that are important in my life. It becomes a lonely place to live.
Please take notice, these are things that we never talk about with other people because we do not want to be condemned or rejected. So we hide inside of ourselves and look out at the lives of others and wished that we could be like them. The problem with this kind of thinking is the fact that all of the others we are looking at have gone through the same experience and they are locked inside of themselves. For most of us this is our first experience with evil and because we are just do not have a clue that we have walked through an open door that will carry us far beyond where we had planned to go. We started out hoping to avoid punishment or judgment, but later in life we go on to
engage in a variety of other experiences that carry us further and further away from those we love and from a real experience with God. We may later join a church and hope through our own efforts to reconnect with God, just like Adam and Eve. But because of our choices we have cut ourselves off from the closeness that we had as a young child.
Thus begins the lonely journey of life that most people experience and usually fail to fully understand. These are very personal matters that you are not likely to hear many people openly talk about. Yet in remaining silent, we also remain trapped inside of ourselves. I am writing this letter to help you open up this door, perhaps for the first time in your life. It is also an invitation to escape from the loneliness of that life. But it takes courage to step through the door into another way of living. I know about these things, because I have had to make this journey myself. So this letter is not being written to tell you what you must do, but rather to share with you some discoveries that I have made in my own life. Each of these discoveries have freed me from some aspects of struggles in my life, so I want to share them with you and see if they touch your spirit like they touched my own spirit.
There are few people who would willingly look into these aspects of their own lives. I also strongly suspect that there are few writings on this topic since it lays bare the essences of our inner lives. That makes the problem uncomfortable and obvious. It is my purpose in writing these letters to open up new dimensions of life to my readers. To share the truth to the best of my abilities and to set others free from the endless burdens we all carry. So please consider this letter an invitation to search your own heart and see if you have been living a life of loneliness and isolation? If you can relate to these words, then I encourage you to consider taking the next step. That step is taking the time to write a letter and open yourself up to someone who cares about you. I want you to know that this invitation comes from my heart because I have fought the same battle. This letter is the result of becoming aware of that first encounter with choosing between good and evil. When I made that first choice, I had no awareness of the journey which lay ahead of me in life. But now thanks to the grace of God I am blessed to be able to see this small detour that we all make at some point in our lives and to extend my hand to others who are also becoming aware of this event.
We do not have to spend the remaining time in our lives alone and isolated. One of the great privileges in life, is to truly get to know another person deeply and accept them as they are now. That is what my invitation is all about. Nothing more. I am not interested in knowing about the facts of your case. I am only interested is getting to KNOW you. I cannot breech the walls of silence between us until you invite me into your spirit. If these words resonate with something deep inside of you, then I would encourage you to pray first for direction. I am not going to disappear, I will wait patiently for your response. This is what God has done in my own life. He has always been patiently waiting for me to finally get the message of His great love for me. Now that I am beginning to see how the rest of my life has developed from that one small step away from His love and
protection, I am focused on sharing this knowledge with others, because I believe that this awareness is the beginning of personal freedom for all of us. I do not want to waste time and resources on meaningless things. Time is short. I believe that at this point in my life it is important to use everything that I have been given to help others. It is not my current address which indicates the state of my personal freedom. There are many others living in the so called “free world” who are prisoners in in their own minds. They are merely waiting for death to bring them a permanent sense of relief from their struggles with life. True freedom starts in our own personal awareness that we are more than a body, emotions and behaviors. We have a spiritual nature. We either deny that reality, or we become aware that this is the central feature of our lives and start to live out that life fully.
There are vivid examples of what I am talking about to be found in every corner of our lives. People who are crippled, handicapped, impaired, lost, homeless, disfigured and abandoned and yet they find meaning in their own lives. This is not an accident. This is the result of becoming aware of our own spiritual natures and starting to develop this aspect of our own lives. That is how they make it through the challenges of their own lives. I would not take time to share this knowledge if there was no truth to be found in such an invitation. The kind of truth that really sets us free. Once I caught an understanding of how I had fallen into Satan’s trap for my own life, it has become easier to spot his influence in other areas of my life. I am still self-centered and selfish by nature, but as I learn more about Satan’s subtle traps in my life, I become freer and freer that I ever was before. How could I sit in my dwelling and enjoy the fruits of this knowledge and keep it to myself? It has been like a key to a door that has been closed and locked for most of my life. I suspect that you are searching for a similar key in your own life. So now that I have shared this knowledge with you, it is only important that you take time to consider my words and see if they ring a bell deep inside of you. I am not here to pry or to expose wounds that you have carried through your life. Nor am I focused upon the ways you have wounded others. We all have a similar legacy in our lives in which we have been wounded by others and in turn we have wounded those around us. There is not one free of this twisted reality. We only become free as we become aware of the ways that good and evil affect our life choices. I cannot set you free, but YOU can make the choice now to become free of all of those wounds, mistakes, painful experiences and shame. As I have become aware of the way that these things shape and influence my own life, I have also become aware that I can share this knowledge with others and help them shake off the burdens of their own lives.
I would not be much of a brother to you and others if I did not share what I had found to be true in my own life. That is what it means when the bible speaks about sharing the burdens of others. Because of seeing my own deceptive choices clearly and how these choices affected my whole life, I can reach out to others with a sincere desire to help lift similar burdens off of their own backs. There is no room in my life for judging others. I see my own personal wickedness clearly and it causes me to have empathy for those
who are still caught up in their own struggles. I would not make a good jury member, because as the facts of a case were revealed by a prosecutor, I would be searching my own soul and experiences for the truth about the choices I have made. The particular unlawful behaviors which happened in your life are unimportant to me from the viewpoint of idle curiosity. I am all that I can handle in my own life. But the common themes between us are of great importance to me, since these themes represent opportunities to connect with each other in the most meaningful way possible.
I have been BLESSED recently with letters from several prisoners who have asked for help in re-connecting with various family members. Family is important. One of the most important works that we can do at Dismas Project is to act as a go between for those who are locked away and powerless to change their current situation and their family members who may be distant from them because of events that have happened in the past. I am a former offender and I know personally how these things tear families apart. It has happened in my own life because of my own behaviors. As I have tried to restore the lost relationships in my own life, I have become aware how important it is to help others achieve the same peace in their own lives. So my interests in being a resource to you comes from the experiences of having my own family struggles. WE all have some unfinished business in our lives. That is the nature of life. It does not just happen to those who are in prison. Part of being set free is to find a way to resolve that unfinished business. If I can be your hands and feet on the outside, take some time to sit down and write me and let me know about the challenges that you have been struggling with. Perhaps we can come up with a plan of action and set a new beginning in motion. Remember that your own willingness to reach out and make right past wrongs, may be just what your loved ones need at the current moment in their own lives. You may be the one who wounded them, but now you may also be the one who opens the door to real healing. So for those of you who took the time to ask for our help, please wait patiently while we are connecting with your family members. Please keep them and us lifted up in your prayers so that we will be gentle, loving and successful in restoring what Satan has taken from you. This outreach is an aspect of family healing. Having been a former offender, I am well aware of how important this is to you and your family members. These particular letters are very important to me because they give us a chance to do more than just write a monthly letter to you. They open up a door between us that allows us to reach out on your behalf and on behalf of your family members, trying to restore what has been lost. Thank you for your confidence in us, we will address each request with the same prayerful and carefulness. Each request for help is another Godly connection. I am sure that God will bless these efforts since they are consistent with His word.
Because of our own personal challenges over the last three months, I thought that this letter was going to be a difficult letter to write. So I found myself putting off this task for a later time. This morning I started to write this letter and the words and feelings have flowed through me onto these pages. It has not been difficult at all. One more time God has blessed me with the substance of what I needed to share with you. We consider
this ministry God’s work, not our own work. So we depend upon His guidance and direction in all we do. The fact that once I sat down to write this letter the words came freely has blessed me. I hope that the words written on these pages will be a blessing to you. Nothing else is as important as that desire. Any other reason for reaching out to you would be a waste of time and money. This is just a gentle reaffirmation from outside the walls that you are valuable and important to others. So my hope is that this particular letter will bring some light, hope and joy into your life. Remember what Jesus spoke of….”when I was in prison you visited me.” These letters are our monthly visit to you inside of your cell.
Now what I would like to do is shift our focus away from what happens to us as we develop into social human beings and look at a single spiritual issue. Do you remember the story of Noah in the book of Genesis in the bible? Well if you are not familiar with the actual book, what it states is that God decided to destroy the world because of the sinfulness of man. Man had become so wicked, that He decided to save a handful who were faithful and to let the others be destroyed by the flood. There is something very interesting in this revelation. His actions destroyed these sinful people, but sin was not destroyed. We find evidence for this in the later books of the bible, for instance in the story about Babel. So physically destroying the sinful people did NOT destroy sin. That shows clearly that sin itself is a spiritual reality, not a manifestation that is physical. It is a spiritual reality that actually manifests in OUR behaviors. It carried forward in the actions of men and women who were born out of sinful men and women who had survived the Flood. In plain terms what that means is that something incredible happened when Adam and Eve committed the sin of rebellion against God. They inherited a sinful nature and passed it on to their off spring. That is clearly how you and I have arrived at the place we are at now. We do things that we did not want to do and avoid doing the things that we know that we should be doing. That reality has become a fact of our human existence. Every human who has ever been born has gone through this process. Given our sinful predisposition we can do nothing by ourselves to make things right.
God knows that we suffer with this sinful nature. He has compassion and mercy on us. In fact He sent His son, Jesus Christ to pay the price for that sinful nature. In other words, instead of just wiping us out, He made a way through that sinful nature so that we could share a relationship with Him. There is NO other religion on earth where God has reached out to restore a relationship with sinful man. There is no other religion on earth where God clearly understands man’s helplessness. In all other religions it is always about you pulling yourself up by your own boot straps. The power of this personal discovery excites me down to the core of who I am. It helps me to see the larger picture of God’s great love for us. The excitement comes from finding out that God REALLY understands my sinful condition and wants to help ME! Can you see the pieces of the puzzle coming together? By myself I can do nothing to change MY sinfulness. But God being all loving and merciful has made a way for me to deal with my own sinful nature. He has done that for me, because like a little baby, we are powerless
and need help. When the spiritual light comes on in our heads and our hearts, we start to grow up and mature. Then we can start to make spiritual choices for ourselves. God sustains us until we can finally get the big picture. That is love. He puts up with our rebellion, out of love, waiting for us to finally see how much we need His love and provision in our lives. So now, let’s put another piece into the spiritual puzzle.
We have been given free will as part of the gift of life. We can reject the love of God. He will not force Himself upon us. But in rejecting His love for us, we choose to condemn ourselves to hell for all eternity. It is clear to me that He has no desire for us to go to hell. That is a choice that we make for ourselves, because we have rejected His help, His truth and His plan for our lives. And that is the gospel truth. Please pray about it and ask Him to reveal the truth to you.
Prayer
Dear Lord, You alone know my spiritual blindness and the condition of my heart. You know how I have struggled to do things my own way all of my life. These futile actions have taken me far from your love. Please search me Lord and restore to me a clean heart. Help me to know the depth, width and breathe of your love for me so that I may do your will, now and forever. Thank you Father, for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to pay the full debt for my sins.
Have a blessed month, Kevin and Quinta
PS: Please stay in touch and let us know if we can be of help in reaching out and helping you reconnect with family members.

 
 

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