Dear beloved brothers and sisters,
I went to church services for the very first time at the new facility I am in last night. It was a very warm and welcoming place. It is ornate and built to be acoustical. For the first time in nearly four years, I felt a nostalgic connection to a place of worship. I got the warm and fuzzies as I reconnected with memories from my childhood. I instantly felt at home. Church is my very favorite place to be. There is nothing more pleasant or uplifting than communing with others in the name of the Lord. As always, the Spirit moved me and I was compelled to speak at the end of service. You see, I had surveyed the room and found some sad faces and heavy hearts about. Those looks inspired the kindling of spiritual fire inside of me. I said, “I know times seem bleak right now, my brothers, but this is not the end for you. This is only the beginning of a miraculous transformation. Your incarceration does not have to be negative. To the contrary, God can use your situation to uplift and inspire others. That is, if you let Him.” I saw a glimmer of hope begin to shine in some of their eyes. I could tell that what I was saying registered in some way with some of them.
I pray with all my heart and soul that I can do some good even if only for one person. I can’t change the events that brought me here. The Lord knows that I would do anything in my power to prevent my former co-defendant from doing what he did, but none of us can travel back in time. Thus, we all must live with our choices and in some cases, the choices of others. The past is what it is. This I know, better than most. But, I have hope and faith that by the power of Jesus Christ – maybe, just maybe – I might be able to affect the future. Perhaps, by the grace of God, I can introduce salvation into someone’s life. Lord, please let it be so! Perhaps I can help just one.
We cannot save the world, my brothers and sisters, no more than we can change the past. It’s just not possible. But, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. The Bible makes it clear that it is our duty to try. Sometimes we gripe, “Lord, what can I do? I try to help people and teach the gospel, but they almost always reject it in the end.” Well, the Bible says, “So what! Keep trying.” Why? Because we must; because it is what Jesus would do. In fact, He does it every second of every day. Because, even if we only help just one, it is all worth it. The very fact that we sincerely tried with all of our heart and soul to help save someone else’s soul is meaningful beyond measure. Even if we are unsuccessful and are unable at the end of the day to help even one soul, we have to acknowledge and take solace in the fact that we tried with all of our might. Because the alternative is absolutely disgusting. What possible meaning or impact could your life have if you never even tried to help just one?
More often than not, when I speak to these men in here, it seems as if I am talking to a wall. I am not talking about just the inmates either. Many of the people who work here don’t get it either. They are just so blinded by the corruption of this world. I am not ashamed to say that I have been reduced to tears on more than one occasion. I get overwhelmed by all the rejection. But, then there are times when something I say seems to sink into someone – like my new student, Nick. He really seems to get it. Suddenly all my failed attempts pale in comparison. I am overjoyed to report to you that Nick and I are still studying together. In fact, I signed him up for church. He will be attending with me on Thursday night and it truly means the world to me. For there is no greater joy for a man than knowing that his life is of service to the Lord; that his actions helped others. What greater purpose can one have? No, you cannot save the world, but you can make a difference. And, though you will surely fail more often than not, it will all be worth it even if you only help just one.
John 12:26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”
[The following quote may come from someone with spiritual views which differ from my own views. Nevertheless, I have found this quote significant from a human perspective. It has struck me in some way and provoked thought. By publishing this quote, I am in no way saying that I agree with the author’s spiritual, political or social views.]
“Life is not meaningful … unless it is serving an end beyond itself, unless it is of value to someone else.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
Man is Not Alone, ch. 19 (1951) [see quote on wist]
May God bless and keep you! May you find meaning in serving God! May you strive to bring salvation to the world in the name of Jesus – knowing that it is impossible, yet meaningful, even if you only help just one!
Love in Christ,
(A man who strives to help as many people as he can)