After the prison service on Friday afternoon, a man approached me, requesting prayer as he was preparing to preach for Kairos later that night. He opened up about the thoughts and messages that God had placed on his heart for the service, and he mentioned that the message I had delivered served as confirmation that he was on the right path.
During our conversation, he shared a remarkable perspective with me, saying, "Mrs. Donna, many men often question why I remain cheerful and joyful. They fail to comprehend how I can find happiness despite spending the past thirty years in this prison, with another one hundred and fourteen years still ahead of me."
He carried on, saying, "I tell them that my hope, the only hope for the entire world, lies in Jesus. You see, I will be here indefinitely. I entered this prison when I was only eighteen years old. A life sentence leaves little room for hope in their eyes."
With a wide grin on his face, he shook his head and continued, "Some people tell me that I can do whatever I want in here, be violent, use drugs, and even take lives. They think I can't possibly receive additional punishment!"
He went on to say, "But what they fail to understand is that this prison is not my final destination. One hundred and fifty years is merely a drop in the vast ocean of eternity! I live with the mindset of going beyond this place, and there’s only two options. There’s a place of eternal rewards, and a place of eternal punishment. I know which one I’ve chosen.”
I was taken aback by his statement. I have known this man since the very first day I began ministering at Riverbend. I had no idea he had been sentenced to life plus. He has never missed a service and always carries a radiant peaceful smile.
As I drove home, his words lingered in my mind. I reflected on the times when I felt discouraged or trapped in life. There were seasons when I struggled to find reasons to smile. Although I always possessed hope, I'm uncertain if it was as evident on my face as it is on the face of my incarcerated brother.
Today, we have something to celebrate! This life is not our final stop. And just as I often mention to those men, there will come a day very soon when Jesus will sound the trumpet, and for those who have chosen to follow Him, no razor wire fence or cell door will hold them back.
I can't help but think that sometimes we need to remind our faces that we have every reason to smile. This earthly life is temporary. One day, we will return home. Now, that is truly something to cherish and find joy in.
“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”