In Our Darkest Hour, God is with Us

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

Last year, I read a letter from a young man serving a five-year prison sentence. Now, it is impossible for someone who had never spent one day behind bars to relate to the anxiety this young man must have felt as he heard the judge issue his sentence and the fears he faced on the day when he entered those prison gates. His crime is unimportant; the court found him guilty, and the young man found himself at a crossroads. He could have just given up, thinking his life was in ruin and spiraled further down the dark path of life, or he could turn to God and he did, and boy-oh-boy what a plan God had in store for him. 

At a certain point, the young man took an opportunity to work as a chaplain’s clerk at the prison, and in the following year, he introduced the 30-year-old prison’s first Bible study. The study group began with only 20 members out of thousands of inmates at the prison. The group petitioned for and received a state grant to procure sound equipment and other ministry items. The group prayed to God, asking that He would open doors to help them reach more inmates with the gospel. The young man led Bible studies, praise groups, and other activities to share God’s word with all who would listen.

When he wrote me his letter, this young man’s ministry had grown from a group of 20 into a congregation of 900 plus! Praise God! This young man could have given up on life; he could have chosen to follow a dark path. Instead, he turned to God, and God’s plan for him sprang into action, a plan God ordained before the young man was born. However, let’s be clear, it is not my intent to paint the wrong picture; prison life is arduous and indeed dangerous, but as I said, most people, like myself, cannot imagine or relate to life on the inside without once living on the inside. Only God could have opened all the right doors to make that prison ministry flourish.

This story is an incredible testimony of what God has done through one young man’s repentant and obedient heart, a heart that holds the love of God, and a burning desire to share His word. If someone within the walls of a prison and its many restrictions can build a thriving ministry, we, who have much greater freedom on the outside, should ask ourselves: “What can I do or should be doing to seek out the lost, share the gospel, and make disciples?”

Here’s the point. It is never too late to alter your life’s trajectory and take the exit ramp off what the Bible calls the broad road that leads to destruction. Then, you can begin to walk the narrow path that Jesus said leads to eternal life this very minute. “What must I do?” you ask. You need to lift your voice in prayer to God, confess and repent or turn away from your sins, and commit your life to follow Jesus. “That’s it?” you ask. Yep! That’s it. If your prayer is genuine, then at that instant, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean, and the Bible says you have become a new creature. Best of all, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, dwells within you to help and guild you along that narrow path to heaven’s gate.

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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