Well I’m back from the Colorado/Michigan trip and finally digging out a bit from the email avalanche that welcomed me home. Still got a bunch more to do, but I thought you’d enjoy this.
I got an actual letter in the mail a couple of weeks ago. Those are pretty rare these days. It was from a prisoner in an Arizona jail who has been deeply touched by God’s life through some of the books I’ve been a part of. I wanted to share his story with you because if this stuff works in prison, there’s no corner of our lives where Jesus can’t breath the same life and freedom into our worlds. Enjoy!
I am finishing a 5-year sentence in Department of corrections for Grand Theft. I just wanted to take the time to share with you the impact that “The Shack”, “He Loves Me”, “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore” and “Authentic Relationships” has had on my life and how much freedom I have found in just relaxing in my Father’s love.
I am learning to trust and that includes giving up my own way. I am the middle adopted child of dysfunction and chaos. I am 47 years old and I am recovering from the mistaken assumption that life is all about me.
Coming to prison has actually given me time away from the “system of religious obligation” and has freed me to simply know, love and trust my Father. “Living loved” is so simple yet so life changing.
One of the most moving phrases I found in your books was “that people take time to relax and let me be the bother in Christ I really am!” I just really related to that.—real, pure and simple. I loved it. I have really taken to heart the truth of embracing the process of life-even the darker shades- and I find myself less angry, unforgiving and selfish. The veil has been lifted and I am completely loved and accepted!
I received Christ at 30 in the ministry of a group of loveless, joyless people, teaching loveless joyless people how to be loveless and joyless. I really believe now, in looking back, that I had to go under the law for almost 20 years to enable me to relate to and empathize with those still under the yoke of slavery. Now that I have discovered true freedom my heart aches for those being crushed by religion. I understand that I am not called to change or convince anyone, just to simply love and encourage them as Father places them in my path.
The Scripture declares, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is obedience – NO. There is church attendance – NO, there is law – NO. It clearly states that where God is- there is freedom. I think real freedom is so fleeting to the body of Christ, that most would not recognize it, even if it bit them on the butt!
I am free to love, to grow and free to fail and free to make mistakes and bad choices! Now that’s freedom. Love really does cast out fear. I was recently reading in my Bible and came across this passage that I believe Father used as the process to raise me from the dead and show me and give me life (Luke 9:22). “The Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Thank you again brother for your hand in helping to raise me to life.
I have found it true your word about “embracing the journey” and even in prison. I am in love with God, people and I want to live again. Talk about a miracle. No such thing as instant gratification in the Kingdom. I get to be a kid again and life is so worth living. Obviously, there is much more to my story- drugs, suicide attempts and other ugly chapters in the “unfolding story “ of my life that do not need to be re-hashed anymore. It is my heart’s desire that Father would see fit to allow our hearts and lives to intersect one day and I could simply allow you to be the brother in Christ that you really are. It is not a stretch to say, even though I‘ve never met you, that I love you dearly and you have uplifted me and help strengthen my weary heart and it is my sincere prayer that this letter may do the same for you.
Dude your rock! Your obvious and sincere love for the family of God is so desperately needed in people who are drowning while standing on dry ground. I see life, relationship, love, mercy and grace in everything I see, read or participate in and somehow people are drawn to the heart of this old, worn-out old fishermen from California. Words alone cannot express how grateful I am to you, Sara and everyone at Lifestream! Listen to my heart, my friend, as I whisper love, grace, and freedom back to your heart. What an awesome Dad we have.