Note from the author: What follows is the ‘Foreword’ from a ‘book’ I started while I was still incarcerated. While I was behind bars, I didn’t have access to a computer and writing was a rather complicated and cumbersome thing, both for myself and for my dear friend Diane Woodall, who always did her best to interpret handwriting that was too bad to even be called horrible. Still, she did a fantastic job and she gave life to “TODAY IS….A Gift From God” which a few of you have decided to read here in this blog.
I couldn’t wait to get out of prison and acquire access to a computer again so I could continue writing. I failed to realize that the reason I could write so prolifically in prison was because there was no ‘life’ to get in the way. Well, I got out, I obtained a computer, and then…..I let ‘life’ get in the way. I made excuse after excuse, and settled in for simply posting entries from my book here rather than writing something new and fresh. I convinced myself that it wasn’t a total cop out because, after all, people were seeing things that spoke to their hearts and that helped them live their daily lives.
This week, I moved, and I am now renting a room in a private residence in DC. For the first time in almost 10 years, I have neighbors who are not inmates, or homeless men. I have nothing against either of them, mind you. After all, I was both.
But now I am neither, and I have prayed asking God to guide my next steps. I came across a file today that contained the work I had begun on “The Book of Hope” and I thought I would post the ‘Foreword’ and see if anyone was interested in having me post further excerpts from the book on occasion.
So…..check it out. Let me know what you think. Should I let it die with what follows, or follow it with more in the future?
And, as always, thanks for taking the time to read these posts.
“THE BOOK OF HOPE”
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
Hope is a promise given by God to each one of us when we are born.
Looming before millions of people is an obstacle which prevents them from realizing that most beautiful of promises made by God. The obstacle is the enemy we sometimes make of ourselves through the sinful nature we allow to consume our hearts, our thoughts, and our actions.
The person does not exist who lives a completely sin-free life; “For everyone
has sinned; we all have fallen short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23 NLT).
Unfortunately, many of us allow more of the darkness which accompanies sin to reside within us than we do the light which accompanies a loving relationship with God. That darkness drives us farther and farther away from God and, as a result, we become the obstacle that would deny us any of God’s promises.
When we allow ourselves to be completely seduced by evil, we turn ourselves into the most formidable adversaries we will ever face, and when we make enemies of ourselves we squander precious years of our lives engaged in a struggle that depletes us of our energy, our enthusiasm for life, and our ability to love.
These things combine to change us into someone who is totally different from the person God intended us to be when we first came into this world. In addition, our ability to see the Hope that God promises us is severely diminished, or seems to disappear altogether. As this conflict escalates within us, we will likely win a few battles, but without God as our ally, we will undoubtedly lose most of them.
We lose the war entirely when the conflict raging within ourselves becomes so intense we are driven to the erroneous conclusion that the only way to win it is to end it through our own power. Far too many of us decide the only way permanence can be found in a solution is to kill the opponent who has taken up residence within us and has become the person we see when we look into a mirror.
Unfortunately, when we decide to take it upon ourselves to end our lives as a way of escaping the pain of being who we have allowed ourselves to become, we are not achieving our objective of winning the war raging within us. In actuality, we are handing a complete and total victory to the evil that has seduced us and taken our eyes off of our Hope.
There is another road to victory, but we simply cannot see it through the fog of our pain, any more than we can see who we really are when we look in a mirror.
There can be little that is more frightening in a person’s life than to look into a mirror and see only someone who is hated staring back at them. I know this to be true, because I have seen that person looking back at me. Over the course of my life, evil had silently, slowly, and seductively, lured me away from all that I loved; from all that was good; from all that was decent; and from all that was worth living for. Evil was prepared to claim my soul forever, and I was prepared to hand it over. I was spiritually, and physically, getting ready to pass through the gates of Hell.
My body lay in a bloody heap on the floor of a shower stall in a south Florida motel which, like me, had long since veered from its intended purpose when it was first put here on earth. Whatever the innocence and honesty of its original function, the “741 Motel” had long ago become vile and decadent, uncaring and unkind. The behavior exhibited there on a daily basis was so beneath the dignity of God’s children that it is difficult to understand how it could exist in the beauty of the world God created.
I was minutes away from certain death as a result of self-inflicted wounds to my neck when I made an important discovery: As I lay there with my life escaping through those wounds, I suddenly was shown that the light within me had not been totally extinguished by the darkness of the evil whose seduction I had once welcomed; I discovered there was a little sliver of brightness remaining, and it was just enough to enable me to see the words that would snatch me back from the gates through which I had been about to pass. They were simple words, but they were all God required to shine His light more brightly on the way back to the path leading to the Hope He had promised me when I was born. They were simple words, but they had eluded me for the entirety of my life to that point. However, despite their simplicity, they proved to be the four most powerful words that have ever crossed my lips.
They were, simply, “God, please forgive me.”
Asking God for forgiveness is asking Him for help. I now know that He was always ready to help me; He was simply waiting for me to ask Him. Those simple words unleashed His awesome power and anyone reading these words will soon see how – and how quickly – He responded after I uttered those simple words.
Obviously, not everyone who needs God’s help waits until irreversible consequences are imminent. Not everyone who is in need of God’s help waits until evil has very nearly claimed a complete victory before calling out for the help required. Be that as it may, we all need God’s help to claim the promise of Hope He lovingly holds out to us.
In God alone lies our Hope for happiness in this life and our Hope for the beauty awaiting us in His Kingdom when we leave this life.
In God alone lies our Hope to be loved as His Children: Children who look to Him for guidance in living our lives in a manner which reflects His character; Children who are eager to follow Him and serve Him; Children who have discovered that life is a beautiful and wondrous thing and is nowhere near as complicated as we allow it to become when we listen to the seductive lies of selfishness, self-indulgence, greed, lust, envy, and other lies which pay us premiums of shame, loss of self-respect and dignity – or much, much worse – once the total investment of our souls has been made.
“THE BOOK OF HOPE” utilizes my own experiences to illustrate how even those who think they have lost all Hope can reach out for God’s hand and receive the assurance that He will help us find it again.
But who am I to tell anyone anything? After all, I am just a man. In the grand scheme of things, I am just an insignificant speck standing on this insignificant dot called Earth that God has suspended in the incredible vastness of the universe He created.
The experiences I will write about will show that though I am “just” a man, and in spite of the fact I am merely an “insignificant speck”, God has shown me how important I am to Him. He has shown me how much He loves me, and He has shown me how easy it is to be restored to the person He intended for me to be when I was born. The truly amazing thing is that we all are uniquely special and important to God.
God has shown me that my Hope has always been in Him, and I have asked Him to help me find a way to point other people to Him in order that they may reclaim their own beautiful promise.
“THE BOOK OF HOPE” is the answer He provided me with.
The first part of “THE BOOK OF HOPE” is a journey right up to the gates of Hell. Granted, it is my journey, but you are all invited to come along. That part of the journey is decidedly unpleasant, but it is crucial to the story, because it illustrates just how amazing our God really is. Finding God standing there blocking my passage through those gates and pointing the way back to the Hope He promised me when I was born begins the second half of the journey, and THAT part is as beautiful as the first part is ugly.
For those who find some enlightenment and encouragement in these pages, give glory to God, for any credit certainly belongs to Him. After all, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:31 NLT)
Authors note #2: Well, dear readers, I leave it up to you. Anyone care to read chapter 1?