A Free Man

So if the Son makes you free, then you will be truly free – John 8:36

I didn’t think that anybody cared about me. Why should they? I was a lowlife. I ran with the wrong crowd. Got into trouble all of the time. Gave my poor Mama a lot of grief. My Dad left us when I was six. I was angry with him and with the world. I dropped out of school and started committing petty crimes. Robbing a convenience store is why I’m in here now.

When I first got here, I was down in the dumps. I wanted to curl up in a corner and die. Dying was better than being behind these bars. No one visited me except Mama when she was able to. It was a long way and she was suffering from arthritis in her knees. Although her visits always ended up depressing me, I was still thankful to see her. She prayed for me and told me that God loved me but I just couldn’t believe that. How could He love possibly someone like me? I had done a lot of bad things.

One day, the guard told me that I had a visitor. Thinking that it was Mama, I went but was surprised to see Pastor Rodriguez sitting there instead. He smiled at me and said, “Hello, Miguel.”

I frowned. Why was he here? “Did Mama send you?” I asked.

“No, but the Lord did.”

“Why would He do that?” I scoffed. I was tempted to end the visit right then but something prevented me.

“He wanted me to let you know that He loves you.”

I stiffened. “Did He tell you that?”

“Yes.”

“How could He love someone like me?”

“Miguel, God loves everyone. John 3:16 says that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for all of us. Jesus died for me and He died for you.”

“But I’ve done so many bad things. That’s why I’m behind bars.”

“Let me read something to you.” He opened the Bible and then read: Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” So, you see, Jesus died for both of those men but the one who was repentant was saved. Jesus promised him that he would be in Paradise with Him.”

“So, the thief went that same day into Paradise?”

Pastor Rodriguez shook his head. “No, the promise was made that day but the thief will be among those who will be resurrected at Jesus’ Second Coming. So, you see, even though that man was a criminal, Jesus died for him. Your crimes have not diminished God’s love for you. He cares about you and other prisoners here and around the world. And even though you are here behind bars, His Son, Jesus can set you free if you let him. All you have to do is to accept salvation which comes only through Him.”

“How do I accept salvation?”

“You accept it through believing on the Lord Jesus.” Pastor Rodriguez offered to pray for him and left a copy of the New Testament for him to read.

I thanked him and as soon as I went back to my cell, I opened the Bible and read it. When I read, “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me,’ Jesus was saying that when anyone showed love and kindness towards others, it was like they were showing that same kindness to Him. That made me feel good. Jesus wanted me to know that He hadn’t forgotten me or I wasn’t invisible because I was behind bars. His love an reach anyone anywhere.

Pastor Rodriguez began a prison ministry in the facility where I am and I attended every meeting. By the end of the month, I along with other prisoners accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. I may still be behind bars but I was a free man. In retrospect, I realized how fortunate I was. I could have ended up dead instead of in prison where I found Jesus. This is God’s mercy in action. He would rather have me find Him in prison than to have me die in my sins.

Source: Pastor Rick;

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