In Four Part Harmony: Part 4 – At Just The Right Time



Now we’ve shared the first three parts of my release from exile and deliverance to my land Beulah. But there’s a fourth and final part; a part worth contemplating: God’s hand in my arrival home.

When I first sat down to write this posting, I had the intention of running a timeline for you showing how dates aligned to get me home at the earliest possible date. I wrote several pages in this way and it just didn’t settle with my heart.

Why?

There are several reasons. The least important reason is the post would have been a rehash, a summary of things I’d written before. I wondered if anyone really wanted to reread all of that history. Another reason I scrapped that writing is it just didn’t pull together concisely. It felt  clumsy and jumped back and forth through time. I couldn’t find a way to write that history chronologically because dates didn’t always align with actions, events or impacts. It was confusing. However, the truly important reason I didn’t finish and post that writing is I felt God has asked me through the Holy Spirit to:

“Tell those who seek you out that I Am is always with them and that patience, perseverance, obedience and faith in, and total love for I Am will let Me do My work for them – in My time.”

I had to take time to consider how best to tell you these things. It is humbling to be God’s instrument in this. I am being asked to be Aaron, God’s voice, for this message; one spoken throughout the Bible.

I have to wonder, is this a test for me? I am NO saint; I am not worthy of this task. I am a daily sinner. Looking at it in a positive light, I am humbled yet feel a certain level of being exalted. Some may say I’m delusional for thinking I have been asked by the Holy Spirit to speak in God’s stead. Perhaps. Realistically, I am not being asked to go out into the world and challenge the beliefs of High Priests or zealots for other faiths. I am simply being asked to tell you what I wrote above:

“Tell those who seek you out that I Am is always with them and that patience, perseverance, obedience and faith in, and love for I Am will let Me do My work for them – in My time.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jer 29:11 NIV]

So here goes…

Timing is everything, right? It’s in His timing that His hand and His love are most apparent. People like to think that He is best observed when working a miracle. How often do miracles happen? We don’t know. Is it a miracle when a baby is born or simply God’s plan in motion? Is it a miracle when someone mysteriously recovers from cancer or simply God’s infinite wisdom in the creation of the human body and its workings – working? Are we even capable of recognizing a miracle when it happens? Just what is His definition of a miracle? So, if we can’t discern a miracle from a part of His plan and wisdom, then how is it we can see His involvement in our lives?

Perhaps you think that the person who loves you and wants to be with you is a demonstration of His love for you, and it is, but have you stopped to think about when that person entered your life? Was it at the happiest of times, a time when you were just moving through life without any care for a partner – new or existing, or maybe the worst of times? And in each case, what did that person bring and was it exactly what you needed? I argue that the person brought to you came at just the right time to be what you needed when you needed it – good or bad. What I also think is that we don’t take the time to seek out what it’s all about – this person coming in and bringing impact(s) and instead we focus on the emotions around the event. But that’s not what I’m here to say – I’m here to say that His timing will tell you what His plan is, or was, for that moment and the moments that followed.

Timing.

If I look back as far as I can recall and map out the timeline of my life and tie it to people coming in and out and to the events that shaped my history, I can see a pattern of support. What I can’t always see is a positive and healthy response on my part. Was it because I didn’t have the kind of relationship with God I should have had or simply immaturity and carelessness; a blindness to what was happening in my favor? In many instances I do have to find forgiveness for myself because I was too young to know what was brought by man and what was brought by a higher being. What I can say though, is that regardless of those times for which I can forgive myself, there are hundreds of times for which I was ignorant when I should have been aware, insightful, self-evaluating and thankful. Yet, those are the emotions around those times and it’s when I consider the timing I see His hopes for me at just the right time so that, had I been aware, insightful, self-evaluating and thankful, I would have had a better life and would have been a better person; someone more like He has wanted me to be all along.

Getting home as soon as possible was my fervent hope throughout my incarceration. Life in prison, exile, is destructive and demeaning. It’s not what God had planned for man when He set people in place of judgement over us as evidenced in multiple places in the Old Testament, yet it is what man has chosen instead. The point is, man has been given the task of punishing not only in terms of punishment experience be but also in terms of how long –  how much time – that experience shall be suffered.

For me, it wasn’t the legal minimum sentence of five years for my offense but was instead six years. Man’s discernment, man’s timing, was I needed to give six years of my life for what I’d done. Alternatively, when I arrived at prison, I came face to face with hundreds of men who had done exactly the same thing I’d done and had been sentenced to 15 or more years! So, while I didn’t receive the minimum, I did receive a gift of six years. That meant I was at least nine years closer to home than so many others. I see this as an “act of timing” in my life on God’s part. God brought me the right person (judge) at just the right time. Had another judge been appointed to my case, I may have been one of the unfortunate people sitting in prison for more than a decade.

Next came a little thing called The First Step Act (FSA). The first step act corrected a law put in place over 30 years ago. That law outlined how much good time an inmate could earn while incarcerated. Good time moves your release date up thus reducing your sentence; behave well, stay out of trouble and you get maximum good time; the shortest time in exile possible. Well, seems 30 years earlier when the original law was written, it contained vague language concerning good time calculations. Congress intended that an inmate receive 54 days good time for each year of incarceration. However, the vague language could also be interpreted to mean an inmate received only 47 days good time. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) took it upon themselves to use the latter interpretation and so essentially took away one week of good time for each year of sentence. Imagine someone who had been given 25 years! They lost SIX MONTHS good time! They spent an additional six months in prison even though Congress had intended otherwise. Sadly, Congress felt addressing the language of that law wasn’t a priority and so it stood all those years with all those inmates left in exile when they should have been out in the world.

The FSA finally corrected the language and made it retroactive for many years back. This amounted to about 3000 immediate releases. It also meant all other existing inmates, including myself, had to have new release dates calculated. Well, as is Congress’s wont, they wrote the law incorrectly with the language detailing by what date the new release dates had to be calculated and communicated to the inmates in the section detailing when other aspects of the law would be put into effect; dates much later than the date Congress intended for the new release dates to be calculated. Once again, the BOP in its desire to punish as long as possible, took it upon itself to use the later dates even though the BOP knew what Congress intended. The impact: people who should have received an immediate release, or have been released between Congress’s intended date and the BOP’s chosen date, remained unfairly in prison. I tell you all of this because it falls directly into God’s timing in my life. For whatever reason, my new release date was one of the first calculated even though THOUSANDS had release dates prior to mine, but my date was calculated first. Why? Because God brought people into my life at just the right time to assure my new release date would be moved up the six weeks I was due with the trickle down effect of moving my halfway house release date up the same six weeks. In the end: I was home six weeks sooner than I would have been had FSA not been written and my new release date not recalculated at just the right time.

Moving forward in time, getting home as soon as possible required the longest halfway house time allowed by BOP policy. This equated to just over seven months for me. What I’d observed however was people consistently being awarded three months. Consequently, I set my mind and heart upon three months. As it turned out, I was awarded EIGHT months! One month LONGER than policy. How could that have happened? It’s simple really, each person who touched my halfway house request was involved at just the right time and the halfway house to which I was assigned had an opening at just the right time.

The awarded halfway house timing also meant I would be in the halfway house when my new, FSA provided, six-week earlier home confinement eligibility date came up. When I asked about the chances of going home on that date, I was told that no, I wouldn’t be going home until two months after that date. Then:

Enter COVID-19.

The impact of COVID-19 on the world is fearfully awesome; for me though, it had the effect of bringing me home on my home confinement date. Why? Because the people in control of my fate decided, at just the right time, to send me home.

Before I close this out, I need to step back to what I believe I am being asked to do:

“Tell those who seek you out that I Am is always with them and that patience, perseverance, obedience and faith in, and love for I Am will let Me do My work for them – in My time.”

I need to address this portion: “…faith in, and love for I Am…”

Two items of note exist: 1) the timing of the start of my new relationship with God and 2) my new relationship with His word, or when combined: the start of my faith in ,and love for I Am.

Where the timing of the beginning of my new relationship with I Am began, shortly after the investigation into my actions my wife saw how I struggled with emotions and worries and regret and remorse; all of it. One day she came to me as I sat brooding in my favorite chair and handed me my Rosary and said, “Here, maybe you can find something in this.” She brought me that Rosary at just the right time. I needed something to cling to. I needed something to bring me hope. Instead, I used it to beg for protection from prosecution. Looking back now, I can find forgiveness for myself because I was immature in my relationship with I Am. But now, I see His timing in this simple, but significant, gesture. Thus, the start of my new relationship with I Am.

Next, when I was taken into custody, I was placed on suicide watch in a solitary cell directly in front of the main duty desk for the guards. The cell had a full glass front and observation camera so even my personal “duties” were on display. Of course, this was all to assure I didn’t do something eternally regretful. My sister, meanwhile, sent a Bible to me at the jail. It arrived on my third day in solitary. You must understand that while in solitary you are wearing a jumpsuit that cannot be removed without the aid of a second person, you have no mattress, no linens, and no belongings. The cell is absolutely empty, and you sleep on the floor and your jumpsuit has an opening through which you do your “duties.” While I sat on the floor contemplating suicide a guard walked up to the cell door, opened the food tray slot, slid the Bible in and said, “I know you’re not supposed to have this but it arrived today and I thought maybe you could use it.” Interesting it happened on the third day isn’t it? My sister sent the Bible at just the right time and this kind guard worked her shift at just the right time so that she could put that Bible into my hands at just the right time. Thus, the start of my new relationship with His word. And so the chain was joined for me to have a new, holistic, relationship with I Am.

In His work, I have been delivered to my land Beulah…

At Just The Right Time

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” [Eccl 3:1-8 NIV]

And a time to go home.

~jdoe

Enjoy this by The Byrds: Turn! Turn! Turn!

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