Letter 24


Letter 24

He was seventeen years old when I met him and on his way to Angola for a life prison sentence. He said “don’t worry about me, my father is on the legal team up there.” And with a backwards glance, he headed off to a life prison sentence. It’s been over ten years now. I wonder if he has finally come to realize that this was not a pretend game that someone could get you out of, it was an adult life prison sentence. I think of him from time to time.We literally meet thousands of people in the course of our lifetimes. It seems that many of those people float through my memory at various times. It is clear to me now that each of these people have enriched my life in some tangible ways. Even those who were hard to know have left an indelible impression on my memories. I owe each of these individuals a debt and as I write my stories and letters I often draw upon these private encounters and use them as materials for my writing. So in this small way I seek to honor each person that has crossed my life’s pathways. You hold the same place of affection and attention in my life, though we may never have met each other personally, up until this point in time. When I sit down to write, I think of what my life would be like if I were locked up in a death row cell. I stop and consider what your life is like and challenge myself to create something meaningful that will touch your life, even for just a moment in time. Touching you in a way that draws you out of your circumstances and creating a moment of contact between us as two human beings on a long journey. Just as I need food to nourish my body and clothing to protect against the elements, my inner being needs other people in the same way. Those contacts feed my soul and inspire my thoughts. As I write this letter I am in Oakland California waiting to see my son and my grandchildren. Quinta is attending 3 days of classes in San Francisco and next week we will drive down to spend three days at Yosemite National Park, before returning home. Over the last several months I have been in a place where I have been too distracted to do meaningful work on my writing. But this trip and the resulting shift in focus has seemed to re-energize me and to help me gather together the inner resources to accomplish what lays before me. I actually opened the second novel yesterday and took notice that I have only 7-8 story insertions to make before I can send it off for final editing and artwork. But you would have thought it was some major obstacle in my life. The way that I avoided dealing with completing this project makes me wonder what the big deal has been. A long time ago when I was getting close to finishing college, I went through the same series of behaviors. It finally got down to the time to complete my last requirement and I dawdled over that task forever. Once I had finally completed my requirements, graduation followed and I was back out in the world. What I have learned about myself is that I do not seem to like to finish things, even those things that are essential to my future. On a personal note I have developed a file on my computer called family letters and I am working toward having a personal letter written to all my family members. They are to be given to each of them once I am no more. It seems to me to be a final act of love to write and explain to each person how they have blessed my life. The hardest of these letters to write seem to be to my own grandchildren. There is so much promise in each of their lives and yet I seem to catch
snapshots of their lives as they whisk through brief encounters with me. But most of all I want each of my family members to know that they were truly loved. Have you ever thought about sitting down and doing the same thing for those who are in your own family? The nice thing about a letter, is the advantage that the person receiving the letter cannot argue with you over its contents. And I like the fact that it is on a piece of paper that can be put away and taken out again at a later time for re-reading. If you would like help in writing to someone special in your own life, we would be happy to help you put together your thoughts and ideas. This is the time to address these matters, while you have time to think about what is meaningful to you. Words are powerful and written words can change another person’s life. With your words you can set someone free or wrap them up in chains for a lifetime. You have an awesome gift to extend to someone in your life. Some of those in your life also need the gift of forgiveness. The gift of forgiveness is perhaps the most intimate and personal gift that you can give to another human being. We all go through life with the voices of those who have spoken things into our lives. Many times those things were ugly comments made in a hasty or angry moment. We have also done the same thing to other people. Those wounds can last a lifetime. So in writing a special letter to someone else, check it out and see if you need to ask someone else for forgiveness. This is a great time in your life to do a little housekeeping. I want to encourage and support your efforts to the best of my own abilities. Unspoken or unshared words of love and affection have no value to those who will never hear them. Please do not say to yourself, “they know I love them”. No one gets tired of hearing that they are really loved. So send someone a small personal gift today and set someone else free with your words. It will transform your own life as you reach out to others. During my trip I had a chance to meet with my youngest grandchildren several times and during one of those visits I had an opportunity to talk to them about mistakes. My own mistakes and the consequences that followed from my own poor decision making. I talked to them at an age appropriate level and tried to relate my sharing to things which would resonate in their own lives. It was a moment of freedom as both asked questions which suggested to me that they had a basic understanding of what I had shared with them. The freedom stems from the fact that I do not have to pretend to be perfect or to know it all. That freedom allows me to relate to those I love in a self-accepting manner without groveling or dishonor. I am who I am and I own the mistakes that I have made in life. But as I noted in another letter, I am more than the sum of my failures, errors and mistakes. I am a new creation. Not of my own invention, but of the mercy of God who has poured His Holy Spirit into my life and that is what has produced these changes. So my time with family was well spent, I did not have to dwell on my past, but rather I was able to give each family member the best of my love. The night before flying home, I had a chance to have dinner with my son and my wife and to recognize that I was in the company of two people who truly loved me. I knew that I was loved and I could feel that love expressed as we came together for a meal. I have spent years trying to reconcile the angry and selfish person that I was, with the blessings that God has continued to pour into my life. Why would God continue to love me when I had chosen to do
everything I could against His laws in my life? Still He continued to nurture me and guide me because at one point I turned my life over to the care of Jesus Christ as my personal and loving Savior. Often people abandon their walk with God after a few months or years, since all they see is the vileness of their own lives. They are unable to see the small things that are changing in their lives through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Those small things grow and they bring about other changes and as time goes by that heart of stone is changed into a heart of flesh. It is accomplished by a work of God in our lives and we cannot claim any credit for this gift that we are given. It is the work of the Holy Spirit on a hard-hearted, wicked and perverse human nature. He can accomplish all things in His purpose and in His timing. It is never too late to begin the process by calling out and asking for God’s help in your own life. Just like the Prodigal’s Father in the Bible, he had to sit and wait for his son to come to his senses before his son returned home and asked for forgiveness. The father could not have run after his son telling him of his great love for him or asking him to return home. The son had to come to a point of awareness, where he recognized his own hopeless condition. When he realized how bad things had gotten he became willing to return home and seek his father’s forgiveness. We are all Prodigals that is the way we have lived our lives. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself with others, because when you do that you are really comparing your insides to their outsides. Every single person has fallen short and sinned. For many their sins are secret, while for us our sins are public. Make no mistake, in the final judgment all of our sins will be revealed. So those who judged you will also be judged by the Sinless One. There is great power in taking stock of your situation and determining what things you can actually change. Once these things are determined, you then begin to make the changes that are most important. When you do this in conjunction with turning your life over to the care of God, there is tremendous power that flows out of those basic decisions. Today there is someone that you can pray for, or perhaps another to whom you can write a letter. There is someone living on the row who is in dire need of a few moments of attention and understanding. You would know exactly who that person is, because you have lived beside them for years. There are others in your life who are cruel and heartless. They have embraced this lifestyle because they cannot allow themselves to live out their humanity. To them, that would be a sign of weakness and failure. They may be the ones who are most in need of your prayers. Outside of the Row life goes on. Children grow up, businesses open and close, seasons pass and one year follows upon another silently. Life does not stop because you have arrived at a place of isolation and exclusion from society. You own life continues to be lived out on a moment to moment basis. Please, I urge you to not sit on your bunk and watch the days of your life pass before your eyes. Your body may be confined, but your mind and your spirit are free to live out your days in some meaningful ways. Each of us has the unique capacity to create in our own minds and hearts. What would you create out of the situation in which you now live? How can you change the world from your “house”? None of these questions suggest that you take a passive stance toward the days that lay ahead of you. Each question is meant to encourage you and empower you to think and live beyond the bars which restrict your bodily movements. Each question is also an invitation to put out your hand and link with someone on the outside who can be hands and feet to your dreams and aspirations.
In the end, we will all stand before God and give an answer for our lives. You are still living and so you still have choices that can be made and implemented. The major choice that lays before you centers upon who you choose to serve. We all serve someone. Spiritually we are either serving Satan or we choose to serve God. It is the ultimate reality of life, that all things that we perceive as “real” are predicated upon spiritual principles. So the things that we experience as reality, are essentially visual aspects of the spiritual substance upon which everything has been created. What is seen is made of what is unseen. That may be hard to get your head around, but it is the ultimate truth. God is the Creator and Author of all life. We are given the privilege of determining who we will serve in our lives. We can serve the purposes of sin or we can choose to become aware of our own failings and limitations and ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy. That door is open to each of us throughout our lives. It is the most important choice you will ever make. No one else can make that individual choice for you and God is always willing to forgive us if we humbly ask Him to save us from the consequences of our sinful choices. Tragically it is so simple, that many people fail to recognize or accept God at His word. They think that they must somehow be involved in the process of making things right. The fact is that once we have sinned (and remember that all have sinned) we cannot change any aspect of our sinful condition. That can only be done by an act of Divine Mercy. God made a way for each of us to re-connect with Him. We are not powerless. Though some will go to their deaths rejecting the way that has been provided to each of us. That way is Jesus Christ who has paid the sin debt of each individual with His life, death and resurrection. But please remember that a gift is not a gift until it has been accepted by the one who receives it. It is merely a promise for those are have yet to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Why would someone chose to pay their own sin debt by condemning themselves to an eternity without God, rather than accepting the gift that has already been won for them by Jesus? I think it comes back to the sin of Pride. Please remember from your early Bible teaching that it was the sin of Pride that caused Satan to rebel against the lawful authority of God. We too can rebel when we refuse to honor God in what He has already provided for us. It has taken many years of my life to finally grasp a true meaning of the word love. I am unable to express in a coherent manner all that I have learned about this powerful encounter in my life. It is sufficient for me to tell you that my belief is that love is the transforming force of spirituality. In surrendering my life to God, I have experienced this transformation of spirit. Once exposed to real love, you will always be able to recognize the real thing. Conversely, when I surrender my life to Satan I am embraced by a total lack of love. I begin to live in a void where my daily encounters focus upon serving my own sick and selfish needs. It is like having a spiritual vortex inside of you which drives you to greater depths of selfishness and to personal depravity. It consumes the soul and becomes the only thing that is important. The monster within needs to be fed on a regular basis. It does not care whose life is consumed or destroyed in the process. All that is important is satisfying the ravenous sinful monster living inside. Being set free from that destructive cycle is what salvation is all about. Asking for forgiveness is a redemptive act inspired by the grace of God. He will never turn away a sincere cry for help from one of His own children. That is the nature of God’s great love for each of us.
In the following transformation those things that had been shameful, sinful and selfish in our past lives, become the great beacons of light that manifests God’s ability to change hearts and minds to His glory. The very things that we sought to hide now become the evidence of God’s unfailing love for us. I am not proud of my past actions, but as I explained my life’s mistakes to my grandchildren, I could do so without regret or shame. By sharing these elements of my life, I am demonstrating God’s ability to change lives and to make each of us a new creation. So I provide these young children with a picture of God’s love, not just a summary based upon my words. Ultimately it is not about me or you. It is always about who we choose to serve. I was given the privilege to be a witness of God’s great love where it comes to my grandchildren. You are also called to be a similar witness of His love for you. But it all hinges upon that act of personal surrender to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. That is the starting point. In His great wisdom, God gave each of us free will. So we are ultimately responsible for the spiritual condition of our lives. If all aspects of life are built upon spirituality than I am able to reconcile myself with God according to His word. In other words, it is not too late to seek the other path. Over the course of a lifetime, people have invested themselves in my life. They have taught me, prayed for me, showed me and encouraged me in all areas of my life. As a result of this constant support, I have been able to grasp the significance of life itself and to knell down and ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy. In that process I have discovered the essence of true love and what it means to be a child of God. I choose to do the same things for you because your soul has eternal value. What we may have done in life matters little when compared with what has already been done for us by Jesus Christ. I speak to you from a heart that is grateful to be given this opportunity to share with you. We are not so different, in fact we are very similar. I send these letters because I am unable to visit each person with whom I communicate. I want each letter to be like a personal visit with you. I do not want to waste a moment of the time that I get to share with you. Please let me know how I can help you move forward on your own decision making efforts. Your life is important. Make each day count. Prayer Lord I am a sinner. I am struggling with the choices that I have made in my life. It is hard to see any light or hope from the place that I lift up this prayer to You. In Your mercy would you please forgive me for the sins that I have committed and send Your Holy Spirit into my life to transform me into the person that You want me to be? I have done so much wrong in my lifetime that it is almost impossible for me to see how You could hear me and answer this prayer for Your help. But I know that Your word tells me that you are not like human beings who harbor malice and deceit in their hearts. I believe that Your word is true and that my sins are covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Help me now Lord to live out the days ahead in loving service to You and others. I thank You for this moment of awareness in my life and I ask for Your grace to live out the remaining days of my life praising You and glorifying Your Son, Jesus Christ. Have a blessed month, Kevin and Quinta
My Child, You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1 I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2 I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3 Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31 For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27 In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28 For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28 I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5 I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12 You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16 I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26 You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14 I knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6 I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. John 8:41-44 I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16 And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1 Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1 I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11 For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48 Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17 For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3 My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18 And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40 For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5 I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41 And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3 If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29 Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13 I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20 For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18 As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11 One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4 And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4 I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23 For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26 He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31 And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10 I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32 If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23 And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39 Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7 I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15 My question is… Will you be my child? John 1:12-13 I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32 Love, Your Dad Almighty God

 
 

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