Everyone has the need for acceptance. Family is usually where that takes place, beginning with a mother’s and father’s love and then outward to extended family and, in time, to friends, neighbors and work associates.
Being accepted for who you are is a rare gift and can shelter from the harshest criticism and scorn. God accepts us that way after we have faced our sins and been forgiven by Jesus’ sacrifice. That salvation becomes our safe place, our island of security that nothing can threaten.
In prison Andrew often reflects on his past and present. He recalls the early days of foster care and the twisted road that led from a Christian home to the lifestyle of a prodigal son and eventually homelessness and prison. His next letter sees a future that is possible because of God’s acceptance.
“My goal is to have First Christian as my home church (even though a church is where there are 3 or more gathered). I will always respect the fact that regardless of my situation and my homelessness I was accepted among other great people and nor judged but loved.
“I now know where I stand and can be confident that my problems definitely pertained to my attitude and how I treated life and others in it, taking for granted my freedom and the love from God.”
Now, six months later, he is a month away from a parole hearing. While we pray for his release, he is secure in his position before God and others and will continue a path forward.
“Today is a new day and the growth of my Christian faith and grateful understanding of life has never been better. It was once told me that the Bible says, ‘Raise your children in the Lord and they will nor call astray. Amen to that! So I wrote the Apostles’ Creed (a sermon series on the Creed was his last before his arrest) down and have it up on my wall.”
A college professor of mine once said, “Statistics don’t lie, statisticians do.” A 2016 study on recidivism concluded that nearly half of federal prisoners will be rearrested within five years of their release. There are many nuances in the report that adjust this for age, education and race, but findings are consistent with previous studies.
The lie here is not in the statistics or in the statistician but in the minds of those who reject ex-prisoners and the prisoners themselves. The loving purpose of God drives out that lie.
“I don’t feel as if I failed at all. It is all part of God’s plan. Yes, the struggle is real and as I have said before, ‘We only struggle when we don’t fully give ourselves over to God,’ There is no doubt that God has a plan for my life, and if in the meantime there is any way I’m able to be used for His good I’m all for it. “
Well said, Andrew.