Tag Archives: prison

The Least of These

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14 ESV)

Saddest.  Tree.  Ever.  We were contending with 30 mph winds and the tree took some serious abuse.
Saddest. Tree. Ever. We were contending with 30 mph winds and the tree took some serious abuse.

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to spend some time in Ft. Worth, TX to participate in Mercy Chefs’ “17 Days of Christmas.”  Heather and I have talked about serving the homeless on Christmas Day for years, and we were blessed with the opportunity to serve around 100 homeless and underprivileged men, women, and children. This project will continue through December 31.

(In case you are not familiar with Mercy Chefs, let me explain.  We are primarily a disaster response and relief ministry.  We serve hot chef prepared meals to first responders, victims, and volunteers. Fortunately, we don’t have continual disasters, so when we have downtime, we partner with other ministries to feed the homeless.)

I’m always amazed when we are obedient to Christ.  We serve with the intention to bless others, but we always seem to be the ones blessed by the homeless.  Yesterday, I sat down with a 60 year old man who has been out of prison for 18 months.  He spent a couple of years in prison after he beat up some creeper who was abusing his fifteen year old daughter.  What surprised me was that this man, Terry Gibson, was a brother in Christ and could quote scripture better than I could.

Learning about Terry Gibson and his circumstances.
Terry said that before today, he hadn’t eaten in two days.

Terry said that he was a manager at a classic car dealership for ten years before he went to prison.  He was a single father who had custody of his three children.  I spent about an hour listening to him as he told me that his predicament came solely because he didn’t trust God to handle the precarious situation with the sexual predator that was after his daughter.

As I imagine myself in his shoes, I know that if I was faced with a similar situation with one of my three daughters, I might be tempted to handle the matter similarly.  I pray that I am never thrust into a comparable position.

My wife and middle daughter watching "Elf" with a couple of new friends on the side of the Mercy Chefs trailer.
My wife and middle daughter watching “Elf” with a couple of new friends on the side of the Mercy Chefs trailer.

His troubles are far from over as he is still picking up his broken life. His children, feeling abandoned by his imprisonment, have pretty much abandoned their relationship with their father.  He attributes it to his unwillingness to allow God to handle his dilemma.  Yet, he is still upbeat.  He is thankful for his experience in prison as it has drawn him closer to God.  He served as a father figure for many young men behind bars, and now he offers his wisdom to kids and young adults on the streets.

My family.
My family.

When we parted ways, he left with a full belly and a warm blanket and I left with a fresh perspective.  God can and does use the least of us to serve Christ, and I’m blessed to have a new friend.  We may never meet again, but I don’t have to worry about him.  He is safe with the Lord, but I do pray for him and his family and I pray that God saves others through him.  It was a Merry Christmas, indeed.

Not Coming Back

CC image courtesy of Kevin Dooley on Flickr.
CC image courtesy of Kevin Dooley on Flickr.

It takes about seven months to reach Mars. Assuming that there would be no coming back because of logistical concerns, I would have to assume I was part of a third world space program. Perhaps North Korea.

For me to be a part of a slipshod program, I would have fallen victim to something insidious. Perhaps kidney thieves (who moonlight as astronauts) kidnapped me.

Maybe the whole plan was to take me along as an organ donor. Have you heard what kidneys go for on Phobos? Astronomical.

It’s not as if we were visiting the Oort cloud. Not returning from Mars is like stopping at Circle K and vanishing. Nothing good ever comes from those scenarios.

I wonder what my captors have in store for me. They must be my captors, because I would have chosen comrades who know how to return from such a short trip.

In this prison, I can only think about home. The room is cramped with a small window. All I can see is the black void.

Written in response to the Daily Post’s daily prompt.

 

A Harsh Sentence

CC image courtesy of Aapo Haapanen on Flickr.
CC image courtesy of Aapo Haapanen on Flickr.

Have you ever had the feeling you are doing time? Like you’ve been sentenced and you hope for an early release? Life sometimes feels this way when you have chronic pain.

I hate to bang the same old drum. I’m certainly not trying to gain sympathy. It’s just that it tends to be cyclical. Flare up periods where the pain is intense followed up relatively calm days where you get lost in the fog.

Have you experienced the fog? It’s actually quite nice. You can’t remember much so there’s less anxiety. If you are a control freak, you’re in trouble. You can go ahead and ratchet up your angst because you are now officially out of control. I’ve doubled up my meds because I forgot that I took them ten minutes prior. I’ve even forgotten where I parked. That one has happened a lot.

There was a time where I thought I would be cured, but my expectations aren’t what they were five years ago. I’m guardedly optimistic that my rheumatologist will find the right diagnosis, and if he does, there are treatments to mitigate the damage to my joints. I can anticipate less pain as well.

I have it easy, though. I spend much of my time on the couch eating snacks. My family got the raw deal. I’m sure Heather never anticipated a cripple for a husband when she repeated her marriage vows. Technically, I guess I’m not physically challenged as I don’t have a blue placard to hang on my rearview mirror. Yet.

Last week, Heather told me about how my oldest daughter felt about my predicament. Alli questions God because it’s unfair. I’ve learned that it is unfair, but God isn’t fair. I’m thankful for that. If God meted out justice based on fairness, we all would be condemned. I’m trying to find the words to have that conversation with her.

I need to tell her that my affliction is because of God’s immense grace. My deep relationship with Christ is because of my pain. It’s a little hard to explain the full scope of what I mean, but I hope that I will be able to help Alli understand.

I’ve been doing time for 1,654 days. I’m expecting tomorrow to be a good day. The weather is supposed to be nice.

Written in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge.