The Pen Project Volume 1 Issue 2 - Page 94

bridge of hope by Jim Clampitt MY NAME IS JIM, I’M AN EX-INMATE 1000 things had to go wrong for me to end up in prison, AND 1000 things had to go right for me to be standing before you now a better version of myself; several steps closer to God’s version of me. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul makes a point of identifying FAITH, HOPE & LOVE. Why is it important to highlight that these three things will last forever? Because we cannot thrive in our walk with Christ without them. They are the formula to riding this majestic wave of life. MY DARK SEASON In the spring of 2010, the wheels fell completely off of my life. In April, my oldest daughter became pregnant at 15. In May, my grandfather died. In June, I was involved in an automobile accident that took a man’s life. This started a chain reaction of events that resulted in the loss of my home, most of my property, my standing in the community, my license to practice law, and criminal convictions that made me a felon and resulted in prison time. I fell far and hard off the prideful and arrogant pedestal I had constructed for myself. Pain, despair, and suffering replaced pride and arrogance as my companions. At times the darkness was overwhelming. Few things in life illustrate your weakness and irrelevance like a prison cell. Without a biblical perspective, you are a number, a piece of meat, human cattle to be housed and fed. FAITH It was clear to me I had a very stark choice. Would I become a victim? Someone who spent the rest of my life blaming others and circumstance and dreaming of the way things used to be. Or would I become God’s version of me? Someone who reads the Word, prays, focuses on his blessings and gives back to the Kingdom as much as God will allow. You see, no matter where you are in life, we all have to face the question: If everything is stripped away. If I were lying on a prison cell floor, with nothing but time and my thoughts, is my relationship with God enough to sustain me? Can I live with real joy in my heart if I have nothing else but God? When I was able to answer that question the right way I began to change dramatically. My focus was constantly and consistently pushed, pulled and sometimes dragged back to my blessings. I forced myself to search out what the Lord would have me do for Him each day. I cherished time in the Word and in prayer. The Bible became a need and prayer was like talking to my best friend. I no longer cared about the property, and standing I had lost and instead wondered how the Lord would use my burdens and obstacles for His plan. If we don’t ever plug into God through our faith, we can never expect to have His power in our life or for His energy to flow out to others. Imagine living in a modern fully furnished house, but never plugging anything into the electricity or flipping on any of the power switches. The juice is there, but without faith we can never draw the power into our life. HOPE Was it wonderful and easy from the point I truly committed to the Lord? Of course not, I was in prison. I shed countless tears and rode a regular rollercoaster of emotion in an effort to look beyond the pain and limitations of my present condition. But I had divine perspective, I had a biblical focus and both of those gave me a sustained hope that would pull me out of the present darkness and push me toward a better tomorrow. Hope is the bridge, between the power of Christ as it flows into our life through faith, and that same energy flows out to others in love and service. Anytime we find ourselves in a dark season, we always have the choice to turn our why’s into what’s. To turn our, ‘Why me, why this, why now?’ Into, ‘What would you have me see Lord, learn Lord, do Lord and say Lord.’ There are no accidents in the Kingdom of God. Everything happens according to His Plan and for His purpose. Whatever dark season in which you find yourself, is a direct result of what God intended or by His specific permission. Nothing gets to us unless it goes by our Father. In every dark season, we have the option of looking upward for our focus and outward for opportunities to serve, OR to look inward at our pain, grief, bitterness, sadness and anger. 94