“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (New International Version, 1984, Jude 1:20-21).
Waiting takes effort.
In 1972, Stanford University did a test on delayed gratification. The test presented one marshmallow to a child and asked him or her that if they would not eat it for 15 minutes, they would get two marshmallows. The observer then left the room. Much has been made of this test and other similar ones, but no one needs this test to tell them that waiting is hard.
Most county jails across Oklahoma have been closed to our chaplain visits for three months. The doors are gradually starting to open. Below are four things that OJPM chaplains and our extended family of prayer warriors and supporters need to embrace as we move forward.
First, dependence upon God is more important than ever. Someone asked me last week to step in and fix a difficult problem. My response was, “No, I have learned the length of my reach.”
This is my application of Proverbs 21:31 where Solomon said, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” The Lord wants our availability, but only He can open a door and change a heart.
Second, focusing attention on Jesus is only answer. We need to be aware of and use all of the social, educational, medical and political resources that are available to us, but ultimately the answer to the human problem is a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the redeemer, reconciler, lover and healer!
Third, time is precious. Many of our chaplains are senior adults who volunteer their time to leave their comfort zone to serve their Savior and their fellow community members. They realize that they do not have much time left on this earth. This period of sheltering at home should focus our attention on how we use our time. Whether He returns, or we depart, our time is short.
Fourth, the mission of getting the message out is ever more critical. What is the answer for the racism, anger, fear, inequality and injustice that is spilling out across our nation? Jesus is the answer! We are His ambassadors. He has commissioned us to live out and speak out His life, love, hope, truth and gospel.
The next phase of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is here. County by county, the local site chaplain will lead out in returning ministry to the men and women incarcerated there. I trust you will be ready to respond.
“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 1:22-25).
Now, more than ever, God’s gift of grace needs to shine through our faith to a lost and dying world.
What have you learned over the last three months? You show me.
Unleashing the captives,