Psalm 91:14-16: “Because He loves me” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him for he acknowledge my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
To sum things up with that verse…..God rescues, He protects, He answers, He delivers, He honors and satisfies. Wow! Six powerful promises. What more could we want from our God than to have His promises. Now hold that thought!
As I sit here writing this, a lot has been happening since I’ve arrived at Yazoo City’s prison on March 4. And unfortunately some of it hasn’t been so good. If you read my previous blog everything was going OK; a few run-ins with some trouble makers, but nothing big. I hung out with other Christians, attended Bible studies, got asked to play guitar at church, was even a few days away from moving cells and getting away from sharing a cell with a Mexican gang member. As I was getting familiar with the people and surroundings, I thought it was smooth sailing. Unfortunately, in a federal prison nothing is smooth sailing. You must always be on your guard or “the devil will come at you like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 And that he did.
It all started Friday night March 14 when my cellie told me that I needed to show my papers (legal documents stating your crime and length of term) to a few higher up inmates in the gang ladder (also known as checking me out) to determine if I can stay on this compound because there were certain cases they didn’t tolerate. One of the first things we are told is that asking for papers is illegal, but it’s done anyway, since the inmates believe your business is everyone’s business in prison. I thought a few days before that I had handled that conversation and they were good with it. But apparently it was still a hot topic, as my cellie told me that I didn’t want to get my nose broke or even worse. “Just warning you”, he said. I told him my papers were coming next week and left it at that.
After dinner on Saturday night, two Christian brothers came up to me in a panic and told me something is going down and that I’m in it. They told me a certain gang was coming after me very soon. Needless to say, it freaked me out big time as that was the first time in my life a serious threat had ever been made against me. I had two options: stay and confront them by fighting, or run and hide. Just so you know….fighting in federal prison is no joke, as they can come carrying shanks (knives) looking for serious blood or even death. People do get killed in prison. I have never been involved in a fight in my entire 33 years of life and I knew God was with me, but I still needed to use common sense and get off the compound permanently by checking myself into protective custody, out of harm’s way. So on Saturday, March 15, I started my long stay in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), or, as some people call it “the hole,” where disciplinary inmates are sent. Those in protective custody and those under disciplinary rules are treated the same way – all privileges taken away.
I’ve been here for 10 days now and have yet to leave this cell. It’s a 23 hour lock-down cell with one hour of outdoor recreation in a cage if we’re lucky. But in 10 days I have not had one opportunity to do that. It’s a 10’ x 10’ room with a bunk bed, toilet, sink, shower, table, and no window. I’m sharing it with a 62-yr-old man who takes two showers a week, always sleeps, and passes gas constantly. He’s a perfect definition of a smellie cellie. There is no television or radio, and this is the best sports time of the year with NCAA basketball going on that I love to watch! I don’t even know what teams are in it. I am not allowed to use the telephone for 30 days, and then will only get one 15 minute phone call every 30 days after that. To say the least, these are the worst living conditions I’ve ever been in. I have to stay locked in this cell for 1-6 months before a transfer occurs to another facility. Yes, I will be moving again. But for now, I’m safe.
On a positive note, I was allowed to bring a Bible in here and one stamp! I’ll survive. I hope to receive stamps soon to write a letter to some of you. But if you feel the urge, mail definitely is the highlight of my day. If you want to send puzzles or articles off the internet….sports or news since I will have no idea what is going on in the world)….and devotions. Books are great if sent through a publisher (yes, Amazon does count as a publisher. I heard used books on there are very cheap – just saying, hint, hint!). These are long days and I need things to do.
That’s my life right now. Prayers are always needed for strength for me to survive day after day. My God is bigger than all this and He has promised me He will get me through this.
Speaking of promises, when looking at the six promises of Psalm 91 as I began this article, not one of these promises has God failed to uphold for me during this past year of being incarcerated. I have had my many difficulties and confrontations with people, but because God loves me, He doesn’t let anything happen. Joshua 23:14 says it best, “Not one word has failed of all the good things the Lord your God has promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you. Not one of them as failed.” It’s extremely hard for me to sometimes realize that God holds true to His promises. I definitely have my moments of doubt, especially with so much negativism that has gone towards me for the last two-plus years. But He knows me best, and I trust that He’ll never fail me, and I’ll definitely never question Him. So next time you are having a bad day or a bad week, think of the six promises in Psalm 91 that God is doing for you and will continue to do for you. Just think, it could be worse. You could be stuck in a 10 x 10 cell with a smellie cellie all day!!! But in the middle of the odor in this cell, I truly am blessed. Why? Because I have a pen, some paper, and a Bible. And a God that loves me so much that He has promised to rescue, protect, answer, deliver, honor, and satisfy all my needs. And one day soon, sooner that we all think, I’ll be doing God’s will back on the streets, because this He has promised!