Its December 2007, and I am in prison.
(For those who dont know it already, this story can be found HERE)
The oldest prison in the state,
filled with some criminals who are serving life sentences,
or even waiting on ‘death-row’,
and it became a kind-of blessing to me and my wife.
But we didnt see it this way at first.
Its location was less than a 1-hour drive from our home,
and the visiting hours made times flexible for her work schedule;
7-days per week, with both morning and afternoon visiting hours.
But a few days before Christmas, I was transferred.
The new location?
Three and-a-half hours from home,
with one visiting time on both Saturday & Sunday.
We were stunned, yet not devastated.
Because God had a plan to bring me home early.
You see, this location also has one of the two early-release programs in Oregon.
This one, called SUMMIT, is based on a ‘military’ style boot-camp,
and includes daily ‘programming’,
so we can learn new behaviors to replace those that got us there.
A six-month program that would shave off 32-months from my sentence,
but first I had to successfully complete the program.
The joy of opportunity was incredible,
yet it was still difficult for us both.
We soon realized there would be no more daily phone calls,
and many fewer visits to hold hands, and pray together.
We found ourselves even more completely in God’s hands than before.
Each trial balanced with hope.
The struggles tempered with prayer.
The challenges made our complete dependence on God a reality.
And still... my wife made the journey whenever she could;
7-hours of driving, for a two hour visit, but it was enough...
to remind us that God had never left us alone.
The reward too was not lost on us, and we joyfully recall it today,
because we got back more than just the early release...
more than freedom, safety, and better food...
we gained an increased faith in God!
And our trust in Him can never be taken away or replaced.