Keith: What the Bible Means to Me While Being in Jail
Initially, the Bible was hope, faith and love. These three things led me to new life in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour. I became a new person, a born-again Christian.
I came into jail on Friday, 13 September 2013. The darkest time in my life. I wanted to take and end my life. Everything that I valued in my life was gone. There was no reason to continue living. That was my false reality.
The staff put me in a special cell for inmates with suicidal tendencies. And all that I had, all that I owned, were nothing but my thoughts. In this safe environment, I would have visions that were produced by my mind. I would have visions of animals walking around my cell. Imaginary elderly people who were unknown to me would come to visit. Some were even in wheelchairs.
Finally, I came to a crossroad while sitting on my solid one-piece bed. I can let my mind be enveloped by the unreal world of insanity, a lie. Or I can call on God to help. Either way I was going to give up my life, not to suicide, but rather to decide who was going to rule my life.
I had an image of myself falling into darkness. I fell as though I was sinking in water. It would be so easy to quit. So simple to just let go. Then I started to reason on these visions that were coming to me. Animals would not be permitted in jail. How could the elderly in wheelchairs even get up the steps to the 2nd floor? I reasoned out my reality, but I was in no state to reason and to think clearly. Looking back on it now, it was God who helped me with my thought process. Instead of giving up in a lie, I surrendered and made a choice for God.
At one time I was a Christian before all this took place. I would attend many church functions, Bible studies and even sing and play guitar during praise and worship. But to keep it short and to the point…I rejected God’s way for my own, a rebel. I became the “Prodigal Son.”
Looking back, it is sad to see that I waited to be at this extreme condition in my life to call out to God, but that is what was needed in my particular situation. Thus, my salvation, as is for everyone, became unique and personal.
My thinking and attitude improved, and the doctor removed some restrictions from me. A correctional officer (CO) asked if I wanted any books to read. I enjoy reading non-fiction. After some time explaining to the CO what non-fiction was, he brought over some western/cowboy stories. LOL! Oh well…
One time, waiting for the doctor I noticed the book cart in the hallway. I took a quick glance at the book bindings along with their titles. The book that stood out among the many options on the cart was one without a title on the binding. With a swerve dark yellow/gold stream running across a back drop of blackness, this thick book had captured my attention. I pulled the book out to read, “The Key to Freedom.” To my surprise, it was a Bible, in jail. I asked if it was alright for me to bring it back to my cell.
“The Key to Freedom” is a Bible that is translated into the Contemporary English Version, and it is geared for inmates. It is provided by the Canadian Bible Society and brought forward by those who donated their time, money, and other resources for sharing God’s Word to this part of our world. I flipped through the pages wondering where to start. The beginning seemed like a natural place to begin. But rather than opening up at the Book of Genesis, I read from the cover and moved forward. It was there in these pages where I discovered suggestions on where and how to start. It was titled quite deliberately, “Where to Start.” LOL!
I was able to follow the instructions of where to go and how to continue – try to read a bit every day, to reflect back on what was read and what it means to you.
I am learning, as well as being reminded of many things that God’s Word teaches. God is eternal, therefore our knowing of Him intimately will only increase and be eternal. This will lead to our eternal praising and worshipping Him.
A “Key to Freedom” Bible Committee Member Rev F Clarke wrote – it’s much better than how I said it – “Reading the Bible will open your mind to the endless possibilities of the role God wants to play in your life as you grow in your faith.”
This is how I came to God and engaged His Holy Word, the Bible. God’s Word has power and it has made a tremendous impact in my life. This impact’s repercussions are felt by those around me. I have been blessed to be a part of it and to witness God’s work.
I’d like to finish where I had started. Hope found, led to faith in Jesus Christ that speaks endless volumes of God’s love.
My hope was discovered when I was reading the back of “The Key to Freedom” where there are stories of others who are involved with the prison system and are Christians. One person talked of how God used Moses even though he killed an Egyptian. King David and the Apostle Paul were also part of taking lives. God changed their lives. If God did it for them, He can do it for me. This was my hope.
To change into what God wants me to be needed more than my will to change. It is faith in Jesus His Son that would make me acceptable to God and the work of the Holy Spirit in me that change me. (Galatians 2.20 became the key verse for me.) With time, Bible study and the Holy Spirit, I found that the whole focus of the Bible is on Jesus. Accepting that Jesus took my sins on the cross, resurrected on the 3rd day and ascended into heaven I wondered, why did He suffer? Why would God let this happen? John 3.16 – God so loved the world…God’s love for everyone, including me, is the reason.
Love – God’s love for us – is the theme of His Word. I love God. I am a Christian.
P.S. Romans 12.1-2 is a huge part of my life: (verse 2) Don’t be like the people of this world– I ask God to help me in this area…but let God change the way we think – make me more like your Son, Jesus. Amen.
The Canadian Bible Society provides the Key to Freedom Bible to men and women in prison in partnership with prison ministries across Canada.