“Show them Love… And they won’t Forget You”.

The above is a quote that concluded a testimony in such a succinct and stark way that it stayed with me for a long time after the telling. It made me think about the small things we do as Christians, the little acts of kindness that allow people to see Jesus in us.

It was my boyfriend who told me the story; of his friend who was in prison and had been left alone. I currently have a family member in prison and it’s only now that I realise just how lonely the experience is. Those who receive regular family visits are the lucky ones: for a lot of inmates, the only visitor to pass by their door is the police guard; the only time they talk to people is when they’re in their cells, whether it be an argument or an impassioned wail: if there’s no one outside kind enough to wire money to their prison account, they’re poor. The only way to make money is to do jobs inside the prison (with salaries starting from around £1). These are needed to purchase the most under-appreciated necessities: toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap….

Then there’s the lack of ‘outside’ time; in the ‘harsher’ prisons, the weather is a myth. You’re unaware of the rain; you’ll be released having missed blizzards, tropical storms, monsoons and biting chills; heatwaves…. the draft from the window and the tiny swirls of dilapidation left by dust motes in the sun are the only traces of natural life you get. Imagine being in a place like this, against your own will, and no one you knew on the ‘outside’ could be bothered to give you a call?

It’s a well known adage that one only knows their true friends when they’re going through a struggle. I suppose that, whilst the prisoner stares at the cell walls, their eyes tracing the assaulted escape attempts of prisoners past, they’re able to reflect in their loneliness and desperation; of all those friends they had way back when who were always there for a laugh, but the moment a member of their arsenal was gone, they quickly found a replacement at the artillery store.

Like my family member, my boyfriend had an acquaintance who had been in a similar situation. In prison and alone. His ‘boys’ were no longer there. The person who sent him money and letters was simply an ‘acquaintance’: my boyfriend. When this man was released, he simply said:

“You were the only one who was there for me. Even though I don’t believe in your God, if you ever tell me something I’ll listen to you before anyone else”.

The only reason why this guy was able to say such a thing was because he saw something different; a trait of Christ. It’s a powerful testament for any Christian, anyone who loves God, to look into their everyday actions and see if the people around them would be able to identify the Christ in them. We can’t all be in a position to rescue a baby from a burning building, or be stoned in the Middle East for our faith, or make it into the public domain and publish books about our life in Christ, but we can help a struggling person with their shopping; spot a lonely person at the bus stop on a chilling winter’s day and offer them a lift home; say “good morning”, volunteer, become a mentor to younger people we know; simply tell people we know to be struggling with life that we’re there to hear their vent. And smile. A genuine smile given to a person who never receives them is like ambrosia: something heavenly. The best stuff. It’ll keep them going.

When people see the genuine care you have for humanity, they’re more likely to inquire about the One who placed that care in your heart.

xXx

A Confession.

I haven’t updated this blog for a few days. This is mainly due to university assignments and my personal writing. I’ve been meaning to start sending off stories I’ve written to magazines and publishers, but I was always scared to do it. A couple friends of mine from my old Creative Writing class really got me motivated to do it: they’ve been sending off poems and things; getting rejections and great acceptances as well.

I was also trying to prepare for the Sabbath School class I was due to teach last Sabbath: The Teens. The less said about that the better.

But what I really want to do is confess something. Here it is:

I’m not a good  person.

I mean, I’m not the worst person and I wouldn’t like to think of myself as horrible to others, but as I get closer to God I’m beginning to notice things about myself that I’ve never noticed before. Very often I hear the Holy Spirit reproaching me; my conscience is pricked. I don’t feel guilty, necessarily, but I feel as though I need to change it. My main problem is gossip. I’m not a huge gossip by nature–in fact, I hate gossiping, but sometimes, when I’m with the right (or wrong, however you want to look  at it) person, my mouth just runs on its own. Especially if it’s someone I’ve known for a long time and there’s so much to catch up on, somehow we’ll always get into a discussion about who’s pregnant, who’s broken up with who, who’s done this and that. And I feel bad every time I do it.

And sometimes I say cruel things. After Sabbath, I and a few other people were consolling a guy at my church who’s been going through a tough time. My friend was simultaneously making a list of the youth at church that would be availble to take up a post for next year. After the guy was gone, we all said we’d be praying for him. Consequently two youths came and chatted to us for a bit, turned down the posts that were offered to them as they didn’t want to work with old people or children, and left. After they were gone, my friend asked if she should add them to–

Now I thought she was going to say a prayer list, so I said very flippantly: “oh yeah, we need to pray for them too”. She laughed, and added them to the list of posts for next year anyway.

Now that comment might not seem that bad, but in hindsight I can see why that would come across as a bit High and Mighty. Ironically, it showed that I need prayers more than them. I’d hate to turn into those Christians who always see the bad in everyone else before seeing the things that need to change in themselves.

These things I need to pray for. Jesus wouldn’t act like I do. At all.

Pray for me; and I’ll pray for you.

xXx

Now is the Time

You’re going to prepare the bonfire of your life.
Everything that wasn’t you–
the CDs, the shiny mags
the hookahs, the pipes,
the obscure, salacious novels
and the browns, pinks and blues
that you used to decorate your face
and hide the real beauty that was crying underneath.

As flames dance before your eyes
and you watch the sceptres of your past
curl like the talons of the vultures
that used to feast on your life,
The New You emerges.
History has passed away without a mark of its existence
and the only thing you feel is relief.
Chains have been broken,
shackles removed
bear traps loosened
hearts patched and mended
and a myriad of blessings twist around your soul.
You feel the excitement–
no need for fear–
you’ll wait for the Old to become New
as God creates the better You.

 

 

Text for the Day: Intercession

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

 

Romans 8:26, 27

Even when we can’t find the words to say, the Spirit works on our behalf. Some people believe in a rigid prayer system: first you have to give thanks, second you must make requests, after that you have to ask for forgiveness and then make a conclusion to your prayer, as if it were a thesis. But there are times when all we can say is ‘GOD!’ Sometimes we get on our knees and cry, whisper, groan, or just sit there. Mute. All the pain, fear and anger forming a well of nothingness in our mouths.

Praise God for the Holy Spirit. Where would we be without it?

xXx