Do we dare say that Spring is here? Hallelujah, it has certainly sprung! In Psalm 22, David spends the first 21 verses crying out to God. He’s abandoned, alone, overwhelmed. He even says he can count all his bones. His despair is so relatable. He doesn’t seem to see any end in sight. There’s no calvary coming to save the day. He lays his whole situation before God and pleads for deliverance. At the end of verse 21, there’s a space, and then it simply says, “You answered Me.” (NKJV) In the midst of his distress, everything changed in a moment. There is nothing like that moment when God shows up. Your heart soars. Faith leaps out of your mouth. How easy it is to believe when He moves! David beings to declare how he will praise God in the midst of the assembly. His spirit is overflowing with the goodness of the Father and he is determined that everyone is going to hear about it. That’s how it feels when you’re definitely sure that winter is over. In one second, you feel like it’s going to be beautiful and sunny forever!
Don’t you love God! He is the joy that comes after a rough season. It’s through those long winters that He grows our trust in Him. He teaches us to persevere. A few years ago, (I can’t remember if I’ve ever written about this or not, so bear with me), I was in one of those dry seasons, when you keep praying everyday but your prayers just bounce off the ceiling and hit you smack in the forehead. It felt like God had changed His number or was blocking my calls, I thought He wanted us to be stalkers of Him, but He didn’t seem to be paying me any attention. One evening, I threw my hands in the air and said, “Here I am again God!” In that instant, it felt like bracelets slid down both my arms. My heart melted. How can anyone stay mad at Him when He is so amazing! His presence, His kindness, just the tiniest bit of His breath, changes everything.
The weekend at the Westville Correctional Mens Facility went totally awesome. It’s hard to believe in this age, in America, that some of the prisons are in the disrepair that they’re in. Their chapel is in a room with old theater seats with the cushions worn down to the metal and some of the cushions simply gave up and left the building. The ceiling has big pieces of plaster missing and hanging down. A man told me that one time, during one of the worship services, a big piece of plaster came down and landed on the sound system. The paint is peeling off the walls. The floor is spotted and speckled where the paint has worn off the concrete. There’s a curtain over the stage that’s in tatters. Just the kind of place that Jesus loves. Because He certainly showed up! As those men lifted their hearts and their hands to worship, a transformation happened. We were in the throne room, exalting the King of Kings. It’s a level playing field at the cross. It doesn’t matter your background or what the place looks like you’re worshiping Him from, we’re all in need of this great Savior who poured Himself out for us. “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11). Isaiah 43:7 tells us we were created for His glory. Bringing glory to His Name is the best job in the world!
The Lord also gave us an unexpected blessing in the form of chocolate. A couple in my church has a trucking business and a pallet of mini Reese’s cups was donated to them for ministry. So they’ve given us over 500 pounds of it! I took 100 pounds into Westville, and will be taking the rest into 2 other prisons. It’s in bulk, so we had to scoop it out in sandwich bags inside the prison. As we handed them out, the room certainly became animated! It was a joy to watch their faces. You can fit a lot of mini Reese’s into a sandwich bag. One guy scarfed straight through half his bag and I took it from him to help him get control of himself. When I gave it back he had a sheepish grin on his face. I felt like his grandma. He promised to behave. Another guy told me how all week he’d wanted a Reese’s cup so bad and now he had a whole bag of them. God speaks through these moments and shows them how He cares about the little things.
We know they’re in prison, so does God. We know they did wrong, even some horrible things, so does God. We cannot deny that Jesus paid for them. He wants reconciliation with them. His heart aches to set them free. Our job is not judgement, that’s reserved for the Only One Who is Worthy to judge. There were times this weekend, with a few guys who did not appear to be there to get right with Jesus, and I wondered why they came…. and then I had to release those thoughts to Him. Only He knows the intents of a man’s heart. Only He knows His plans for them. No matter why they came, His plans for them are good. His love for them is abundant and His hand is not short that It cannot save them.
June is going to be a busy month with 3 prisons in Kentucky and a week in Missouri at a kids camp. The camp is called Camp David of the Ozarks. It’s for the children of prisoners. I believe the week I’m there will be for teenage girls. There’s a book written about this place called, “Shame Is No Longer My Name”, by Grace Smith. I’ve had it for 3 months and have refused to read it. Since I gave birth to a daughter while in prison and then after getting out while she was a toddler, went back a few years later and didn’t get out until she was almost a teenager, and still never raised her, I wasn’t sure if I could handle the words of their pain. How’s that for selfishness. I’m so grateful for the grace of Jesus. He’s definitely leading me there and although I’m shaking in my boots, “Thy rod and Thy staff will comfort me.” There are times when we have to walk into the hard places, even if it means facing our failures head on, with no choice but to believe His plans are good. Since the time is getting close, I picked the book up a few days ago and it’s remarkable. If you get the chance, it’s a “must read”.
There’s an opportunity in Alabama for volunteer chaplains. The women’s prisons are especially short on help in this area. I put my name in this week to possibly go for a three-month term. It’s completely “volunteer”, which means finding housing for that time, while maintaining where I live here. So, if you know someone in Montgomery, Alabama, who’d like to be blessed with the best roommate of a lifetime, let me know! Please agree with us in prayer about this. If He’s not in it, there’s no point in spinning our wheels.
In Ephesians I’ve been trying to memorize 2:17 and I kept getting the revelation, wisdom and knowledge parts all mixed up. Finally I realized that the first letters of “wisdom and revelation” spelled “war”. If we have “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”, we’re ready for battle!
Be blessed in the Name of our Lord Jesus! Love your sister in Him, Pam
June Schedule: June 2nd, Kentucky Womens Correctional
June 10th, Luther Luckett Correctional, Ky
June 16th, Roederer Correctional, Ky
June 17-22, Camp David of the Ozarks.