Jeremiah 29:11

It was September, 2008.  I was frantically working off my 600 hours of community service so that I would have a clean record when I went before the board of medicine to get my license reinstated.  Most of my community service was done on the Blue Ridge Parkway as a maintenance volunteer.  But as a member of the Emmaus Community, I applied and was accepted to do community service on one of the weekends.  I picked agape because I had never done that before and wanted to learn. It’s a small world.  I found out while working there that another agape volunteer worked in the US Attorney’s office.  She wasn’t involved in my case, however, but knew of me through the office.  The wounds of being a felon and questioning the purpose of it all were still fresh for me.  I knew in my heart of hearts that God supported me and my work, and that all would end up okay.  But not having a clear line of communication from God, I continuously questioned my decisions.  Were they mine, or were they God’s?  I had prayed continuously through the 2 years of legal negotiations for God to lead me down the right path.  I made the decision to accept the plea offered by Pat Hogeboom thinking, as my lawyer suggested, that I could do a lot more to help people heal on the outside of prison than the inside.  People erroneously believe that our Justice Department actually bring only guilty people to trial.  Little do they know that US Attorneys do what is in their best interest to achieve political gain or job security, and justice has nothing to do with it.  And I could justify the acceptance of the plea.  Even when Hogeboom added a whole different realm of charges at the 12th hour than we had agreed to, I continued with the agreement.  I wasn’t afraid of going to trial because I believed that God, in his power and glory, would demonstrate his power by saving me from the lions.  Just as Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego, I believed God would save me.  But I caved and took the easy road.

I continuously searched for messages from God that He supported me.  He spoke to me through the radio in songs that played specifically for me with the message I needed to hear.  And then, on that Emmaus weekend, he sent me a specific message.  All my life my favorite bible verse had been Psalm 121.  “I lift mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord.”  But on this Emmaus weekend, God intended to show me a new verse.  One that would become my favorite–that kept me going through the bad times. One that today, keeps me focused on the course–the course God has for me.

One of the gifts of agape given on the Emmaus weekend was placemats for the meals  An Emmaus member always provided placemats for Sunday lunch.  They were calligraphied with the person’s name repeated continuously around the edge.  In the middle was a bible verse.  The person, when writing each placemat, would pray and discern the message God wanted that person to see.  On Sunday, I took the box with the placemats to make sure we had one for every pilgrim.  I was hit in the face like a two-by-four being  swung by Chris Vaughn (character in Walking Tall) when I opened the box.  The very first placemat had Linda calligraphied around the edge. (There was one Linda on the team.) And the verse printed in the middle was Jeremiah 29: 11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I knew those words on that placemat were meant for me.  They eased my mind.  Even though life was rough as a felon considering it should never have happened if the government wasn’t set on an evil agenda, I knew that I did God’s work and he was pleased.  He would see me through and I would succeed. That verse still keeps me in full faith in the power of God to put things right at my trial.  I will not cave this time.  I will face the devil and he will be bowed by my Lord and Savior.

To God be the Glory.

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