June 1, 2001
This is the day which the Lord
hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Today I turned forty-eight years old. I
thank the Lord for His mercy and for bringing me along this far in life. Birthdays
are peculiar in prison. Virtually no one celebrates theirs.
Only a few of my closest friends from my church knew about my birthday. I didn’t tell anyone and I did not want anyone fussing over me.
However I did get a lot of cards from Christians on the outside, and from my Dad.
I’m grateful for their expressions of love.
In prison, oddly, almost no one tells others when they’re having a birthday. I hardly recall any inmate ever celebrating this event. The men who do mention their birthday only do so in a simple and casual way. No one expects any presents from the other prisoners, although gifts are occasionally given out.
There have been times when, if I found out that an inmate who is very poor and who has
no one on the outside is having a birthday, I will give him a gift . It may be
a deodorant or a shirt that I don’t need. I’ve given out some food
items like a bag of potato chips or some candy bars. I’ve seen other inmates
do the same for the poorer men. And when another inmate does give one of his
fellow prisoner’s a gift, it is done ever so simply and quietly, with no fanfare at all.
Usually a may will be handed an item and the giver, after saying “Happy Birthday,” will quickly walk away.
These are just some of the oddities of prison life.
There are no birthday celebrations, no fancy gift giving. For most of
us, our birthday is just another day to go through.
June 9, 2001
I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE!
Now the Lord is that spirit:
and where the Spirit if the Lord is, there is liberty.
As the days march on, I absolutely refuse to let the devil drag me down. I refuse to give up or lose hope. From time to time other prisoners ask me, “Dave, doesn’t
it bother you that you may never get out of prison and that you’re doing all this time?”
I cannot even count the number of times I have been asked these questions in some way
or another. But my answer is always the same.
I tell them outright that “doing time” doesn’t bother me anymore.
While they seem surprised by my answer, I’m not surprised. While few want to be in prison, God has given me a complete peace about it.
Sure I have my regrets at the way I lived my life before I knew the Lord. Sure
I miss my father terribly. I pray for my Dad every day, and I long with all my heart to be able to wrap my arms around him
and look into his face and tell him how much I love him. And I wish I could take
my dad out to a nice restaurant or to a ball game like other sons coud do for their fathers.
But what’s done is done.
I cannot go back and undo things. Neither
can I get heartsick thinking about what could have been. Today, thanks to the
love and mercy of the Lord, I can have a good life even while incarcerated. The
Lord has allowed me to make the best of it, to enjoy being with Him and having a sweet relationship with my God.
There are people on the “outside” of my prison walls who are miserable. Everything in their lives seems to be going wrong.
Or, on the other hand, they have so many material things, but yet they’re still unhappy and they feel so empty. The spirit of God does not dwell in them.
The way I see it, if I have the Holy Spirit, then I have all I need. Because Jesus is
my Lord, I will always be all right. God is with me now. He always will be.
Today I knew what it is to be in God’s presence.
I know what it is to be free from guilt and condemnation. With each passing
day the Holy Spirit is teaching me what this “liberty in Christ” is all about.
In addition, today I can say with absolute certainty that I know Jesus of Nazareth. The One who once lived and grew up on the land of Galilee is now living in me and walking with me.
This is true liberty. This is real freedom. This is great stuff!
And so, with full assurance, I know the Holy Spirit is with me. Therefore, I refuse to let the devil drag me down. Amen!
June 10, 2001
When a man’s ways please
the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Once again I am seeing God’s hands of love moving in every situation that happens
in and around my life.
Yesterday a man who is doing several life sentences for homicides and who always expressed
hatred for me, sat down next to me and started up a conversation., In the
past several years this inmate made it clear that he didn’t like me. Every
time I passed by he would have a scowl on his face. A number of times when he
was with his friends I would hear him whispering my name.
In this environment it is fairly easy to see who has hatred in their heart, for it is
written all over their face. And his eyes always seemed to blaze with rage whenever
I was near.
However, quite a while back the Lord placed it upon my heart to pray for this man, at
least once in a while. Sometimes I did pray for him, and most of the time, to
be honest, I forgot to. Quite frankly, I didn’t care to be in the
same air space because of the vibes he would give off.
Then one day last year he got “keeplocked” for fighting with another inmate. To get “keeplocked” means to be confined to one’s cell for any of
a number of disciplinary infractions. An inmate could be given an infraction
for breaking any of a long list of rules, from fighting or carrying a weapon, to not making one’s bed in the morning
or forgetting to carry one’s identification card, which all of us inmates
are required to carry at all times.
Yet when he got confined to his cell for a thirty-day punishment, I decided to get him
a few food items from the prison’s commissary to help him out. The Lord
had put it upon my heart to do this, and it was no big deal.
Then when he got those bags of potato chips he thanked me and seemed happy. However, once his confinement was up. he went back to putting on his scowling face and not talking to me.
This went on for months and I paid it no mind.
This kind of living arrangement is part of the daily life in prison where one is surrounded by both friends and enemies,
by those who like me and those who don’t.
But yesterday, as I was sitting at a table in the dayroom area waiting for a shower,
he plopped down in the chair right across from me, said hello, and then started talking.
He asked me how I was doing and started making small talk.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. He
began to open up to me. He told me a little about his case and that he was never
getting out. I said, “We’re in the same boat.” And talking on, I suggested to this inmate that he should read the Bible and maybe even consider going to
the chapel with me.
While he said that he was “not ready” to start going to church, he said that
he had been reading his Bible once in awhile. I was so taken back by this statement.
I thought to myself, “This guy is reading the Bible?” I was blow
Then today he shocked me again by saying hello to me, and he was smiling when he said
it. In the years I have known this man, I have seldom seen him smile about anything. Since yesterday his entire countenance seems to have changed. I know this was the Lord touching an angry heart and softening it. Jesus has answered my feeble prayers!