Some things can’t be fixed. You can’t take back your words, but you may be able to earn back trust over time. Actions have consequences but they might be reversed by good behavior. Bad decisions can be lessons for future decisions.
Death is final.
Before Thanksgiving 2017, I wrote to Andrew, updating him on his friend who recently took his life. That bad decision was still eighteen months away. “Aaron has been getting more and more plugged in. Because of his situation, one day is pretty much like the rest, so I try to involve him as much as I can. He has helped with our men’s breakfast this past Saturday, then helped rake and haul leaves. He’ll also be helping to decorate the church inside and out for Christmas next week. Please pray that he would come to believe that Jesus is his Savior.”
Andrew’s response was a five-point plan that grew out of lessons he had learned.
- Pray to God and ask him for the ability to speak with him as you dearest friend.
- As in any friendship, we have to be willing to listen to each other and help each other, so keep a clear mind. It’s never just about you.
- Love yourself but foremost, love God because God is love.
- In the beginning church can be repetitious. Just remember, God is always there. Get involved. Always be proud of your church, go out with other members who have knowledge. Enjoy each other.
- One more thing, don’t be selfish. You are a unique brother. God led you to First Christian because he first wants you to be a Christian.
Good advice is like good medicine. It’s only effective when it’s taken. Andrew has taken his own medicine. His friend, sadly, did not. His own medicine had begun to change his reputation inside the prison, “This week I’ve been told by the guards they want me as a trustee (a worker). It shocked a lot of people, even me. I’ve come a long ways. It is possible I will better my life no matter what the challenge.”
The challenges would continue. Shortly after writing me, his lawyer said that he was likely to get a year or two. Oddly, this didn’t seem to discouraged Andrew, but rather reminded him of the third point in his plan: “Love yourself but foremost, love God because God is love.” He would return to this again and again.
“I was reading a book about someone who did time in prison and God was there to keep him safe. I am starting to doubt my strength, but I know (God’s) got my back.”
It would turn out worse than he expected. The months ahead became times of soul-searching and bracing for a long-haul prison stay. But Andrew would take important steps forward that would keep hope alive. The days of denial and bitterness were behind him and he set about fixing the things that could fixed.
Actions have consequences.