Walking in the Spirit doesn’t mean you won’t have feelings of nervousness. It also doesn’t mean you will be sure what you’re supposed to do all the time either. For instance I go to the jail several times a month, and I still get the butterflies from time to time. Tonight wasn’t any different.
There were two subjects I thought to teach on tonight and I wasn’t sure which one it would be right up to the moment I started introducing myself. It turned out to be the S.A.P. guys tonight. For those that don’t know S.A.P. stands for substance abuse program. There were about ten of them and no doubt they were exactly the ones that were meant to be there.
As I started just chatting with them while they passed around the sign up sheet a guy in the front asked me about Satan and was a little confused about how he fit into God’s plan. I told him “You know I wasn’t sure what to talk about tonight, but I think this is a good topic right here.” After I prayed I gave them a quick “Louie” version of the story of Joseph from Genesis. Finally arriving at my point found in Genesis 50:20 where Joseph said to his brothers “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” As I shared with them about how God had orchestrated everything in Joseph’s life for the good of others they seemed to understand.
From there we looked in Acts 2 where Peter said, “Jesus was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to death.” Once again we read where godless men meant evil toward Jesus, but God meant it for good. Whereas Joseph went through his trials to save lives by giving them earthly food; Jesus went to the cross in order to provide eternal life.
In between scriptures there was discussion and questions from just about all of the guys. This is why a smaller group is sometimes better. I love the interaction between each of them and they showed great respect to each other. They all genuinely seemed to want to help each other get through their difficulties. One of which is how to deal with other cellmates who get on their nerves.
Just living in the world brings with it a certain amount of challenges because of clashes in personalities but at least as a free person we can get away from them. In jail you’re in a cell with many others that sometimes just don’t care how you feel about things and they say and do anything they want to. The longer I do Bible studies in jail the more I hear the complaining about cell mates and the questions on how to handle them. One thing I’m quick to tell them is “I don’t have a magic answer, but God does have a way to keep you.” The best thing I know how to do is point them to Christ by sharing the Word with them.
As we were finishing up our discussion I read to them from John 21 where Jesus told Peter “Follow Me!” The Bible says, “Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) following them…So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” When it comes to others and how they are serving or not serving God it really isn’t our business. These men in jail tonight are struggling with other men that profess to believe in God but everything in their language and behavior screams otherwise. I gave them the same answer Peter received from Jesus “Follow me!”
Just before I prayed I shared with them about how I have had times when co-workers didn’t seem to be doing their share, and I thought to myself “I’m going to point this out to the boss.” It never failed though that this very story, of Peter worrying about John, would come to my mind. It was as if God was saying the exact same thing to me “Louie, what’s that to you? You follow me!”
I closed in prayer and asked God to give them wisdom on how to deal with their cellmates and that he would grant them peace and joy even in the midst of the turmoil. As they were walking out every one of them shook my hand and thanked me. One guy came to me and said, “There’s this guy in my cell that came up to me and asked me if I could help him learn about the Bible, but I don’t know that much about it myself, so what do you think I should do?” These are the nights I love the most when these men are truly engaged in wanting to know God and learn how to walk in the Spirit. I just told him “Well, just read the Bible with him and ask God to give you wisdom.” That may sound overly simple to some but that’s what I did and even now I continue to ask him for insight in order to teach others.
Written by Louie