I’ve spent many years lying on bunks in jails and prisons, staring hopelessly at the ceiling. At the time, I’d bought into the lie that I had gone too far and it was too late for me.
Fear, regret, and defeat convinced me that I had wasted the best years of my life. Those thoughts overshadowed any positivity about my future. The emotional pain was so intense, I could feel it physically.
I tried to escape the weight of these emotions with drugs, pornography, and gambling, but those things only took me deeper into darkness. I would have died of an overdose if Christ hadn’t responded to my cries, but He did. He jumped into my pit and pulled me out (Job 33:28, Jonah 2:6).
Not once did He chastise or condemn me. Instead, He wrapped His arms around me and set my feet on solid ground. He traded my prison blues for His robe of righteousness and resurrected my life into one with meaning. Because of Jesus, my life is now a testimony of powerful restoration that leads others to freedom. (See Psalm 40:1–3.)
As a redeemed son of God, I now walk confidently through gates that once held me prisoner. I am a seasoned veteran with many battle wounds, but I am also an overcomer through Jesus Christ. He alone has given me the keys to freedom, and I am committed to sharing them with my incarcerated brothers and sisters.
It never ceases to amaze me how my painful past helps me get eye level with others. They have hope when they hear what God has done and is doing in my life. They realize if He could set me free, He can set anyone free!
With Jesus, nothing in my life is wasted—not even my biggest mistakes. Every experience has become an opportunity to learn and a powerful testimony of the goodness of God.
Did you know that the Apostle Paul wrote two-thirds of the New Testament from a prison cell? Paul rejoiced in his suffering and wanted everyone to understand that his time in chains had a divine purpose. He said, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12 NIV).
I can relate to Paul here because my incarceration has also served to advance the Gospel. Of course, my incarceration was due to my disobedience to God, not my loyalty to Him. But God’s mercy is for people on both spectrums—the sinner and the saint. He brings beauty from ashes for His glory, no matter how our ashes were formed (Isaiah 61:3).
It’s time to look at your past through God’s lens of purpose. Give Him those ashes. Don’t buy into the lie that your life is a waste; God never wastes anything.
Every broken road you have traveled has uniquely equipped you to help others. Through your life story, you may reach people for Christ that others cannot. And every time you find the courage to share the goodness of God, your testimony defeats the enemy’s hold on someone else (Revelation 12:11).
Purpose, though, begins with surrendering your broken life to Christ and then courageously journeying through it with Him. Despite all the pain you’ve been through, an overwhelming victory can be yours through Christ, who loves you (Romans 8:37).
Your testimony holds the key to someone else’s freedom. Please don’t keep it to yourself.
Kory Gordon spent 11 years in incarceration, where he gave his life to Christ. He is now an evangelist, sharing the Good News that set him free. In 2021, he founded Damascus Road, a nonprofit residential discipleship program battling addiction, recidivism, and homelessness. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.