I saw two men in jail tonight I knew, and the last time I spoke with them they were on the outside. I am so thankful some of these guys do come and speak to me when they see me outside of jail. In jail all the men are wearing orange jumpsuits and unless you see them frequently it isn’t easy to recognize them with street clothes on. I had spoken to one of the guys at my workplace a couple months back. When he spoke to me tonight he said, “I got put in here because I absconded. I went to see my probation officer, and her schedule was full so I never went back.” He knew this wasn’t smart behavior, and he was now going to have to do a little time for it. He said the judge would probably make him serve the amount of days he had absconded, probably about thirty four days.
The second guy said, “I’ve back-slidden. I missed a Wednesday night service and then Sunday. The next thing I knew I missed about five Sundays and now I’m back in here. I was hanging around the wrong crowd.” All of these things may be true, but it sounds like excuses to me. This man isn’t a real young man either, he is probably in his fifties, and he has been in and out of jail for a long time. He knows all the reasons why he keeps getting put back and yet he still stays in trouble with the law.
Once there was an inmate who had gotten saved and he was radically transformed. He and I talked for about an hour one night. Really, it was him doing most of the talking, but he wanted to help me to understand the mentality of most inmates so I could be wiser in how I taught them. He said, “There are a lot of ministers that come to the jail and say things such as, Now when you get out of here you need to stop going around the same people that you used to run with because that’s part of the reason you stay in trouble. While that is true, to a certain extent, what really needs to happen is these guys need to learn how to walk in the Spirit. If they learn how to walk in the Spirit they will be able to stand on the same street corner and live in the same neighborhoods but still stay straight. Most of them can’t just move when they are released; they need to know they can live anywhere and do well if they learn to walk in the Spirit.”
I thought this made sense to me. Now I simply tell them to listen for God to speak to them. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” If these men are truly saved Jesus is speaking to them; they just may not be listening. While getting rid of old friends may sound good on the surface my solution is to just start talking to the old ones about Jesus he will sort them out for you. There will be plenty of the old friends that won’t want to hear about Christ and they will simply fade away. On the other hand you will find some friends that have your best interests at heart. God has a way of sending people into your life that you need, when you need them, if you are seeking him.
Written by Louie