Whoever first said, “Hope springs eternal,” was stating an opinion, not a fact.

Those who have hope face changing circumstances and the constant threat of discouragement and worse. In prison, the odds favor the worse. Andrew’s lawyer thought he might face one to two years, but the next letter I received delivered bad news. “I went to court today, it didn’t go well. Three to five years was the first offer. I told my lawyer, ‘No deal.’ She comes in two weeks to discuss my case. Not looking good.”

hope springs eternalBeing assigned a public defender is not the same thing as “lawyering up.” With no money, Andrew was at the mercy of the justice system and it would have been easy for him to become a bitter denier again. Instead he wrote, “I take responsibility for my actions even though some of my charges I didn’t do… if I lose in trial they will give me the full amount which could be close to seven years. I wish to do things a little differently when I’m released.”

Then, as further evidence that his faith had helped him beyond his past, he added, “As always, God is good.”

Incarceration is like a power outage. When the power goes out we suddenly crave those things we had taken for granted – lights, heat, refrigeration – and we will do anything to have them back again. In prison, Andrew became obsessed with the I.D. card that had been taken from him when he was arrested. In several letters he asked me to retrieve it. I tried and failed. It turns out that the card we keep in our wallet or purse is hard to replace. It requires a birth certificate, and social security card, both of which might take months to access in prison. After months he received a new one.

This is only one example of how prison results in the loss of power and control in your life. Fortunately, Andrew found someone more powerless from whom he could take courage and instruction. His name was Job and the Old Testament book that bears his name helped Andrew put his life in perspective. “I’ve been reading ion Job. Wow! God really allowed the devil to test him, and with all he went through he still stayed a devout Christian.”

A person’s life story can be told in many ways. Andrew’s could have been about the hard knocks of life that led to prison. That was part of it, but Andrew chooses to make this his back story. The theme is one of friendship, community and faith. These have been and continue to be the next chapter of his story.

“(God) has shown me that every choice he has made is all for a reason… It’s time I do the same. He does, does and does more! The Lord led me to First Christian and I plan to one day be a member and help be a fisher of men.”

Hope doesn’t spring eternal.

 

(read Andrew’s story here on Thursdays)