At Calvary

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Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned
To Calvary.

There Your mercy and Your grace was free;
There Your Pardon multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary.

Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing
Of Calvary!

There Your mercy and Your grace was free;
There Your Pardon multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary.

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary!

William R. Newell, published 1895

But It Is Personal

I wrote the following after being pent up in a county jail for six months without seeing the light of day, or the dark of night for that matter, literally.  I’d arrived here in my present location and the first four days it snowed.  It didn’t snow much, maybe an inch or two each day, yet it gave me the season I’d missed while in county jail – winter.  Winter is not my favorite season but I did miss going outside in the cool, crisp air. As I was able to finally go out and experience it I’d leave the housing unit every chance I was given.  I listened to other’s complaints about the snow, wind, jackets and boots and I could think was,

“God’s doing this for me!”

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That same day, as I lay in bed after lights out, I thanked God for winter.  I told him I knew it wasn’t for me personally but I was deeply appreciative anyway and I heard The Holy Spirit say, “But It Is Personal.”  As I considered that revelation I had to change my perspective.  What follows are my reflections, a wish for you and a contemplative question for all to consider.  (Psalms 30:5b) ~jdoe

     I look at so much as a new part of my personal relationship with God.  As I move through my days – physically and spiritually – I can now see and know so much in my heart that I missed in life.  It’s like being a child again, back when clouds were a mysterious wonder that looked like angles, dinosaurs, and Abraham Lincoln.  When the breeze, or wind, was something you looked into to blow your hair back while closing your eyes and enjoying its feel on your cheeks.  When birds represented your every dream – to fly and look down on this earth as you broke the bonds of whatever it was that held you earthbound.  When digging in the sand lead to China and other faraway lands.  When ice on the sidewalk was for crunching.  When the moon still looked like a face and was a companion you dreamed of visiting.  When you looked up as much as down.  When everything was new, fresh, clean and yours for the picking, reaping.  When it was all an experience and exploration.  When anything was possible.  When a rainbow was still a mystery and promise.  It’s so sad I had to come here to rediscover so many freedoms and God’s hand and love. 

     I wish everyone could feel as I do in these times, it’s so easy really.  Stand still someday in the middle of your yard, a park, the street you walk – anywhere in God’s creation – and listen, look up, clear your mind and heart and look, listen, feel as you did as a child.  If you’ve forgotten how – watch a child at a playground, your own kids or grandkids – and ask them what they see in clouds, feel in the wind, wish when a bird flies by, or know when they look at a rainbow.  No one should be in captivity before realizing God put it all here for you to experience, own, and keep your entire earthly life.  Maybe, just maybe, this would help others, all, to find their own joys in the tribulation they face or suffer.  How amazing it feels to smile walking across the compound of a prison – imagine walking across the parking lot of Wal-Mart on a busy, raining, windy, traffic jammed day.  It’s all nothing if you walk in God’s Heavens here on earth with childlike wonder, right?

     Let me close with this: We may have been exiled from Eden, but isn’t what was left truly beautiful?

Psalms 30:5b

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

But It’s Snowing! (part 1 of 2)

Welcome!

I arrived at my current Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) on March 8th, 2016.  Previous to that date I’d spent six months to the day in a county jail.  While in the county jail I almost literally never saw the light of day, or for that matter, the dark of night.  I missed the entire season of winter – one of my favorites to avoid anyway so I wasn’t crushed by missing it.  I did feel something missing though in not going outside.  When I arrived at the FCI the grass was clear and even green on March 8th!  Somewhat unusual for the Midwest.  So when snow arrived on April 3rd you can imagine my wonder.  What was wondrous for me follows as an excerpt from a letter to my sister…  oh yeah, spoiler alert: cliffhanger ahead!

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Surprise!  We have an inch of snow and cold, windy weather.  On my way to breakfast (actually a fasting day but I do drink the milk) the sky was again so beautiful.  The sunrises have been so awesome because of the clouds combined with clear skies overhead.  I see them as blessings.  And since I was stuck inside all winter in the county jail,  I think the snow and cold are blessings as well.  Six months isolated from the outdoors is way too long.  Each day I get outside is a moving experience.  I want to feel that way for the rest of my life.  God’s nature is inspiring.  I’ve learned so much by having been stripped of everything; and the isolation has brought such appreciation for – well- all things.  As I change my views of things like rain, wind, snow, cold/heat, clouds, skies, sun/moon, gads – all of it, I find standing outside in the weather waiting for medications or meals is, in reality, energizing and invigorating.  I think I complained about this in an earlier letter, however the revelation of acknowledging blessings in all of the adversity (Bible “Tribulations”) has moved me to a whole different place.  Hmm… maybe I should write about my blessings revelation so here it is… 

Until next week, jdoe