If you read this magazine regularly, you know I was recently released after having served 31 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. I’ll tell you, I had lost hope of ever getting out, but I still believed that the God who had given me eternal life knew what was best for me, even if it wasn’t what I wanted at the time.
Psalm 37:4 promises, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The desire of my heart was to get out of prison. I wanted that more than anything else, and I worked hard at it. I filed multiple motions with the court, trying (unsuccessfully) to prove that I was not guilty of the robbery charge against me.
God wanted me to trust Him to get me out in His timing. Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV). I had a lot of learning and changing to do, but as I read and believed God’s Word, He began to use me for His purpose.
Gradually, the desires of my heart changed and, as I aligned myself with God’s plan for my life, I began writing articles and stories—hundreds of them. To my amazement, God has used those stories to reach people all over the world and on both sides of prison walls.
As I learned to trust Him, God began blessing me in ways that I never dreamed could happen. He had already set me free from a life of sin and bondage, but then, when I least expected it, He miraculously opened the prison doors and allowed me to walk out. And now, every day, He shows me His will for my life as the blessings continue.
God used circumstances to teach me to trust and obey. Just like a metalworker uses fire to refine and purify a precious metal, God used my circumstances to refine and purify me.
Obeying God requires surrender and trust, and it can be hard to do, especially if it means giving up something we want. We shouldn’t expect our obedience to God to be easy or to come naturally, but how we look at it can make a difference. We can push back and complain, or we can try to see how God is using it to stretch us into the people He wants us to be.
Genesis 22:1–19 gives us an incredible story of obedience and trust. There, God tested Abraham by asking him to hand over his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice! Most people would consider this request over the top, but Abraham had already learned many tough lessons about obeying God. Though I’m sure he was shocked and in agony at the command God had given him, Abraham gave swift obedience. Seeing his faithful trust, God stopped Abraham from completing the task and spared Isaac’s life. After that, God made and fulfilled many promises for Abraham, all because he was willing to trust God and obey His commands.
I had to learn to trust God’s timing and His ability to provide too. God is in control of everything. He changes the hearts of people and the circumstances that surround them. Today, on the outside, I can see how true that is, and I watch and pray for God’s will to be done in my life.
Committing everything to Him means trusting that He cares for me more than I care for myself. I had to wait 31 years for God to open the prison doors, but I know that the long wait was for my ultimate good. Many of the things I want to do now take time and patience, and I must trust God’s timing to accomplish them—but I know that He will make a way for them to happen.
If you learn to obey Him, God will use your life for something good too.