Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship, shared the story of being invited to preach at tough San Quentin Prison. He eagerly looked forward to this opportunity since 300 of the 2,200 inmates had agreed to come to the chapel to hear him. A cache of weapons, however, were found by prison officials days before his arrival. The Prison immediately went into lockdown mode.
God’s Word Can’t Be Chained
Only a handful of people showed up at the prison chapel to hear Colson preach. He was greatly disappointed and was struggling with a lack of enthusiasm. He had thoughts of doing a 10-minute devotional instead of a full message when he saw a video camera in the corner of the room.
Colson thought to himself: “Maybe I’d better give it my all.” He felt convicted for basing his morale and mood on outer circumstances rather than the impulse of God’s Spirit. So he preached with great fervor.
Later he mentioned to the prison chaplain how disappointed he had been to have missed sharing the gospel with the 300 men who had originally signed up to attend. “Didn’t you know?” asked the chaplain. “Because of the lockdown, the administration agreed to videotape your sermon. They’ll be showing it to all the inmates tomorrow on closed-circuit television in the morning and again in the afternoon.”
In fact, the message was aired not just twice, but nearly a dozen times over the following weeks. Because of the lockdown, not just 300 but all 2,200 inmates heard the gospel. Colson said he learned 3 lessons from the incident:
- Mother Teresa was right. God calls us to faithfulness, not to success.
- When our goal is to change society, we often fail. When it is simple obedience to God, He blesses our efforts more than we can envision.
- We should not grow weary in well-doing, for we shall reap a harvest if we faint not.
Faith + Patience = God’s Blessing
When Colleen and I were married 19 years ago we chose Psalm 37:3-6 as our marriage verses. Let me share this great promise of God’s faithfulness (New American Standard translation):
Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.
When we keep trusting the LORD in our lives, and keep yielding ourselves fully to His Spirit, we will experience the gracious working and blessing of God. This does not mean that God always gives us what we want. Furthermore, these rich blessings of God are not necessarily going to be rich material blessings, although God does promise to meet our material needs. These rich blessings also doesn’t mean we are going to be immune from suffering. For we live on this side of Christ’s second coming.
But it does mean that if our focus is to please God, no matter our situation, then we will experience the gracious and wonderful working of God in our lives. God is faithful. God is good.
We are called to: “Trust in the LORD, and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” We are called to “Delight ourselves in the LORD”, to “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him (Ps. 37:7a).” When we do, we will experience the power of God and our lives will be a blessing. This is Good News.
QOTD: Are you dwelling in the land and cultivating faithfulness?