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Pastor's Column

Finding light in dark places

  The two letters on my desk are filled with encouragement, good news and evidence of a bright outlook, but they have come from a dark place, a Florida prison.  I’m not sure how this now positive prison inmate found my address, but she wrote to request any faith building resources I could send to her.  Along with other materials, I chose to send my book, “You Can Win,” which is intended to meet troubled people where they are, assuring them they are important to God and that He can enable them to overcome the most difficult of problems.

  When another letter arrived from this prisoner, I sensed the bright excitement of faith running through every line.  My convict correspondent reported that she and her cellmate have started a devotional group in the prison as well as a faith-based weight-loss/exercise program.  In addition she has influenced other women in the prison to become involved in a nightly prayer circle, adding “Great things are happening!”

  In her moving tract, "Delivered From Alcohol,” our friend, Karen Murphy, says her dependence on alcohol eventually became so great that she began writing bad checks to keep up with her expenses.  As a result she was prosecuted and sentenced to six months in jail. In her words, she had “hit rock bottom.”

  But brighter days were ahead for Karen.  Here’s an excerpt from her story:

  “My extremity became God’s opportunity.  My incarceration proved to be the turning point of my life.  It forced me to face my problem and need and gave me time to talk with the Lord I had neglected for so many years.  I came to realize that only He could change my life and enable me to conquer my addiction.  This led me to start reading the Bible

and I began attending a Bible class for prisoners.  When I asked God to forgive me, I knew he had done so because of His promise of forgiveness in the Bible: “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9).  I also prayed for guidance and my prayer was answered.  Today, I continue to enjoy a close walk with the Lord AND my family.  Each morning I ask Him to guide me, and help me all along the way.  Even in trouble, He is all I need. He is the God of the impossible.”

  A heartbroken teenager told me how she dreaded the coming months.  Her grandmother had just been told that she had terminal cancer.  But the coming months weren’t dreadful at all.

  The predicted pain and suffering of cancer, chemotherapy and other feared effects of treating her illness never arrived.

  This grandmother had been in her mid-eighties when her doctor announced his disturbing diagnosis and when in her nineties she received a proposal for marriage, which may have been the brightest day of her long life.

  News reports continually remind us of the perils that surround us.  Terrorists plot to kill, maim and destroy.  Freedom seems at risk.

  Is there a day brightener for our time?

  Can light be found on dark days?

  Yes.  Nothing takes God by surprise.  And the power of faith sees His unchanging love to be a light that shines in every dark place (2 Peter 1:19).

 

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