09 May

Prison Update #3

MAY 8, 2016

First of all I thank God for my mother who taught me right and wrong and the fear of God. Second I thank Him for my Beloved, the mother of my children. Blessed be these women.

There was a lockdown the other evening. The next morning I found out what caused it. At another housing unit, a certain inmate was suspected to be in possession of a cell phone. The officers were after him, and he moved through the building, desperate to unload that phone somewhere. He ducked into my friend’s cell (who was out at the moment) and tried to hide it in there. The officers tore the room apart in search of the phone, found the various pieces of it and took the culprit to the SHU. (Special Housing Unit, and you don’t want to go there!) Owning a phone is a high level offense, near the same level as attempted escape and the unfortunate fellow could get up to a year extra time. Strangely, the man was only “thirty days from the door,” meaning he was scheduled to be released in a month.

I thank God for the opportunity to love and forgive my fellow man. The other day I went to the chow hall for lunch with my laundry bag in my pocket. This is a very common practice among the inmates. You wolf down your lunch, and head right to the commissary for your weekly purchases before the lines get too long. The laundry bag is used as a shopping bag, and putting it into your pocket saves a few minutes of time because you don’t have to go all the way back to your housing unit to get it. That day as I entered the chow hall, an officer asked noticed the bulge in my pocket. “What’s in your pocket?” I pulled out the offending bag. To make a long story short, it was taken into custody by the officer, and I still haven’t got it back, and it’s given me a wonderful opportunity to turn a little irritation into love and forgiveness by God’s grace. You can pray for the staff in here. They don’t always have an easy job.

The Bible study the other evening was invigorating. The speaker has been here several times and is very engaging and sticks to the Word. However, his views about sickness and disease are somewhat different from mine. Three weeks ago, after the service, I brought him a question which he promised to answer. And the other night he remembered. He apparently spent a good bit of time researching the question. Because he answered it very thoroughly from the Scriptures In a very spirited way with the kind of relentless logic an attorney uses. (Which he is.) We then had a few exchanges in the Q & A session. I think the exchanges were very respectful, but we were not able to resolve all the differences. Afterward I went up to talk to him and his wife. Since they both seemed conservative people, I brought up the situation that brought me here. They both looked at me intently and suddenly there was a flash of recognition. They’ve been following the situation for a long time. “I’ve prayed for you many times!” he exclaimed. They were both very affirming and supportive and it was so encouraging to talk to people who know, understand and care. God is so good!

For about 8 days there hasn’t been much to do on the landscape crew because of all the cool and rainy weather. But this week promises lots of work–for which I am very grateful. I was blessed to be asked by the landscape crew supervisor to start some seeds for the flower beds on the compound. The seeds they had planted all died. As I was sifting the potting soil the first time– thinking about the fact that I actually get to work with soil, and seeds and flowers, it brought tears of joy. Thank you Lord! While not quite on the scale of Milmont, the zinnias, celosia, sunflowers and morning glories are growing well.

Seven years ago, my wife and I came back from a visit to Ireland with a dream. By God’s grace we would uproot our lives, and move with our family to the edge of Europe and help spread the Kingdom Vision with our brothers at Dunmore East. The possibility of raising our children in Ireland, obtaining Irish citizenship, and thereby citizenship in the E.U. was very attractive. I could imagine our descendants scattered across Europe, bringing Light and Truth in a place where the Kingdom Vision is hardly represented–while we lived out our old age in a cottage by the Irish Sea.

That dream seemed to have received it’s final death blow the week before Christmas at a Cracker Barrel where a dear friend and I had just finished lunch. I received a call from my attorney who informed me we had just lost the appeal and I would need to serve my time.

The other day I was sitting under a tree in the compound here at FCC Petersburg. (Not a juniper tree–see Jonah!) A chainlink fence about 10-12 feet tall with razor wire at the top was off to my right. A double row of these fences goes all around the compound. A pickup truck is constantly circling the compound monitoring the perimeter.

As I sat there looking at that fence I realized THE DREAM is dead. It was a time of deep pain and crying out to God. The questions that came to my mind were; “What saith my Lord unto His Servant?” and “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” What are you teaching me through the death of this deeply cherished dream? What should my dream be now?

The answer came from Bonheoffer’s’s “The Cost of Discipleship” which I am presently re-reading. In discussing the cost of individual discipleship, Bonheoffer makes the point that Jesus is our Mediator not only between God and man, but between man and man, and in fact the Mediator between us and everything else.

If we are to “hate” father and mother and brother and sister, and wife and children, yea and our own lives also, and if we are to love Him above everything, it means He stands between myself and all other people and between myself and the world too. If we wish to follow Him we can no longer relate directly to people and the world. He stands between my wife and I, my family, my church, my friends, my job, my nation, and my own interests and desires. He stands there teaching us how to respond to all things, all circumstances in such a way that accomplishes His Fathers will. He stands there waiting for us powerless ones to invite Him into every situation we face. Isn’t this what it means to have Jesus as Lord, First in everything? Isn’t this true discipleship? Isn’t this the positive side of self-denial–the turning to Him ahead of self?

As I sat there under the tree thinking about my Dream, I realized that Jesus stands between us and our most Cherished Dreams too. Dreams realized and dreams un-realized. The broken, shattered dreams that fill us with heartache and confusion.

I realized that by the grave of perished dreams stands the Living Son of God. He beseeches us to gaze on Him with eyes of faith. “I am the Resurrection and the Life!” He declares. “Will you believe Me, and follow Me into the unknown? Will you make me your Dream?”

“Be Thou MY VISION, Oh Lord of my heart!
Naught be all else to me–save that THOU ART
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping They Presence my light!
-St. Patrick of Ireland

Ken Miller 08464-082
Federal Correctional Center
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804

Note: We need to pray for our dear Sister Lisa and her daughter. God will show us how.