Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3
For about a year now, I’ve been corresponding with a guy who’s incarcerated in Illinois. His initial letter was written to the director of the prison ministry with which I volunteer and she brought the letter to my attention.
Though we've never met, I consider this man a true brother-in-Christ and think of him with great fondness.
His letters (at times, upwards of 9 pages) have successfully reached my church office and all my responses have reached him unhindered. He is a true seeker of Jesus Christ and is pro-actively looking for encouragement against great opposition. His words have been inspirational and, at times, entertaining.
We’ve kept the topics clean and informative, making much of Jesus and how he might best be a light in a dark place—on the inside and out here in the world.
I pray for him, for his family. He prays for me and my husband and our grown children.
As I write, I envision myself sitting alongside him in his cell, as though we’re talking, praying together. Lifting the veil of evil that fills that place, silencing the clang of verbal violence and reveling in the promise of scripture.
When I write, there is no wall between us.
The last letter I received arrived in a yellow envelope—same institution—only the outside of it blared a warning of sorts:
Correspondence from individual in custody.
As if to convey …. "You are receiving a letter from someone who did something terribly wrong and they are not presently safe for society. Be careful before you open it."
So … a fellow sinner saved by grace, then.
Consider the number of Holy Spirit inspired letters of Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus, killer of Christians) he'd written while in chains for the gospel. The Lord preserved them as sacred, essential text. Bible studies, Hallmark and Dayspring cards are filled with words from that "individual in custody"!
Moved along by the holy spirit, Paul wrote to those he’d led to Jesus and urged them to stay strong. To love one another and uphold the word of truth.
God knew then that Paul's message would benefit his followers then and through the ages. His words—penned in prison—are timeless.
... profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.
II Timothy 3:16.
The fact of Paul and my friend’s imprisonment adds value because we tend to lean into God and attune our heart and mind to him more fully when circumstances have us cornered.
●As an author, I write with greater fervor under the heat of hardship. He uses those times to change me which then increases the impact of the message to my readers.
●The biblical letters from the famed Hebrew disciple, an "individual in custody", will be remembered in eternity.
●And the work God is doing in my incarcerated friend will also be celebrated long after he's gone.
On either side of the wall, may we love one another as brothers and sisters and ... remember those in prison as if we were their fellow prisoners. Hebrews 13:1, 3
Points to Ponder
1. Do you know (or have you known) anyone who's incarcerated? How does that affect your view of them?
2. When has hardship resulted in greater effectiveness of your message to others?
3. Why do you think God intended for a percentage of Paul's letters to be written while he was in custody?
Thanks for reading!
If you were inspired by today's post and know others who would enjoy it, I'd be super grateful if you'd share.
1. Sweeter with You—book 2 in The Heart of Moreland Manor series (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.) is out now and has received favorable reviews. Amen!
2. A Steel Rose*, a contemporary romance novella set in central Washington, is part of a multi-author project (MAP) and will release March 28th, 2023.
*To follow the journey and get in on tons of GIVEAWAYS, I invite you to join our Wild Rose Ridge Readers 🌹 Facebook group.
Until next time,
MARY'S FICTION SHELF
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✏️ This I Promise You (Gardenia Press)
Prequel to The Heart of Moreland Manor series.
What if finding your heart's desire means entrusting it ... just once more ... to the one who broke it?
Book #1 in The Heart of Moreland Manor series.
What if you didn't want your inheritance but it led to your greatest dream?
Book #2 in The Heart of Moreland Manor series.
What if your greatest dream was realized in letting it go?
MARY'S DEVOTIONAL SHELF
✏️What the Morning Brings: 52 Inspirational Story-Style Devotions (Gardenia Press)
A tool to help develop the practice of asking, "What truth did the morning bring?" Perfect for those who want a breezy but soul-stirring message to jump start their day.