Nathan and I have been dreaming about retiring someday, so I went to a financial planner. I expected her to say we couldn’t retire until 90, but she made a plan that will allow us to retire while we still have our own teeth! Misty-eyed with gratitude, I went to sign and date the paperwork. When I realized the date, the tears began to flow. It was the 15th anniversary of my self-surrender to Federal prison.
That day is forever etched in my cranium. My parents had to drop me off and watch me walk through the gate in the razor-wire fence to begin my sentence. It had taken nearly a year from my arrest to get to that day. The wait had been excruciating, but I’d been surrounded by people who loved me. This was a whole different kind of dreadful. I felt alone and scared.
The day I self-surrendered to prison, I didn’t have a pot to pee in. I had lost everything I ever thought mattered. Things looked grim. I knew I could survive the prison sentence; what would come after that really scared me. What kind of future would I have in a world that despises meth felons?
I was flooded with those feelings and memories when signing my retirement plan. How in the world did I get from there to here? I have a home, a family, and a career that garners respect and allows me to pour love and hope into my community. I am living the fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans not to harm you, but to prosper you and give you a future and a hope.” What kind of God would be so rich in mercy that He would take a thug like me and make me alive in Christ?
I have been obsessed with a new song by Elevation Worship and Maverick City called Mercy. I feel it’s been written as a tribute to my mercy makeover, so I have to share the lyrics
with you: “I’m living proof of what the mercy of God can do. If you knew me then, you’d believe me now. He turned my whole life upside down. Took the old, and He made it new. That’s just what the mercy of God can do. Now I’m alive to tell the story of how I’ve overcome. It’s His goodness and mercy and the power of His blood. I’m so glad that my freedom wasn’t based on what I’ve done, but the goodness and mercy and the power of the blood.”
“I thought I deserved to be six feet beneath the earth. For all the things I’ve done, the things I’ve said, the choices made that I regret. Oh, I would still be lost, but for the mercy of God. It was the cross meant for me that my Savior carried. Now I’ve been made free by the mercy of God. It was the grave meant for me where my sin lay buried. Now I stand redeemed
by the mercy of God. Now I’m alive to tell the story of how I’ve overcome. It’s His goodness and mercy and the power of His blood. I’m so glad that my freedom wasn’t based on what I’ve done, but the goodness and mercy and the power of His blood.”
Folks, that’s my story in a nutshell. If He can take the burned-out meth-head I was and give me a mercy makeover, imagine what He can do for you!