Tuesday, February 9, 2010

#11 Persecution regardless

Persecution regardless of what you do.

It is just after midnight as I write this, a few days after my beloved Saints won the Superbowl. I am still in euphoria over that win, but today I want to share something that I went through a few weeks ago.

Before I continue, if you are in any way interested in getting in touch with me, email me, I do answer my emails. One thing I have learned is not to give a straight email, like your name@email.com . The reason for this is because there are people or programs that actually “crawl” through the internet looking for email addresses to steal or send spam to. If you do share your email addy out there, consider changing it to something more drawn out, like your name AT email. DOT com. A software program crawling the internet can’t pick that out, and thus won’t spam you. But a person who just wants to be a jerk can, but it minimizes it from maybe 10 spams a week to maybe a couple.

Anyway, let me share with you a day I had a few weeks ago that had me seriously frustrated about my faith, and what I thought I believed. It was early January, and I had promised my professor from college that I would send him some Cds I bought from FYE, since they were going out of business here in town. My Christmas was, personally, most disappointing, and I was starting to lose my faith in a loving God. Seems to me that God maybe should be seen more as an absolute Sovereign, One where if bad things happen, so what, if good things happen so what. I had tried to say in faith that if you call on God, and do your best to help others, then He would take it personally to help you.

That’s what I thought.

But Christmas was miserable for me, and it just seemed to me that God could hear the prayers of 1000 people, but not answer one of them, but an atheist can hit the lotto for $100 million. Just the way it goes, and God just seems to look at it all. It had me frustrated that maybe the problems we go through are just like a game to Him. Anybody can hear when we call for help, how many actually take initiative and DO something? Sounds crazy coming from an ex felon, but last I checked, nobody was perfect anyway.

The Christmas season challenged my faith in a truly loving God, and I started to believe that yes, there is a God, but how can One watch bad things happen, or ignore when people try to help others? Mind you, my faith in humanity has not changed, I do what I can when I can, but by no means do I claim myself a saint….

(although I am a PROUD Saints fan!)

I mean, reading the book of Job confuses me as to whether God is so loving. I heard ministers say that the things that happened to Job were because of the devil, and that it was not God’s fault…but folks, read near the end of that book and read what it says that his friends and other families came to console him for…it says “for the evil that God put on him”.

That’s not my words, it is the Bible. Controversial I agree, but there it is. How then can God allow so much persecution to one He Himself bragged on? And if so for Job, who was indeed a good man, how then can we possibly escape His persecution? Can a man do 1000 good deeds, but be slain for no reason? Why can’t a person with good in his or her heart get God’s favor to bless others, without complete persecution?

Now folks, I am not saying that we can live without it at all, because I also know that the Bible says that in this world we shall endure persecution…but it emphasizes MUCH more about blessings if we believe. But if so, then where are they?

As an ex felon, I have gone through a lot of hell, from the time I started believing in God, in Christ and having faith that God can answer prayers. But after Christmas, I started to believe that God only watched us, that if the devil desired to bring pain in our lives, that God would only watch, and that we just had to endure.

That does not sound like a loving God to me.

But in my frustration (and possibly confusion), I still believed in humanity. Ex felon or not, I was going to try to help if I can…but very hard to do when you are unemployed and flat broke. In fact, I had to cancel my account with my local bank because the business account I opened 3 years ago had finally drew empty (paying fees monthly for having a business account). So now I was completely broke and unemployed. Mom had given me some money over Christmas, so I held on to that as long as I could, but I promised my professor I would send him some music Cds from back in the 50s, since he was recovering from a stroke a year or two ago.

So with about $25 or $30 on me, I walked to the post office to mail the cds to him. I walked through the mall to get there, and on the way back I ran into a guy I actually knew from prison. I remembered doing some time with him, and he recognized me first. We talked for a few minutes and he told me he had just recently got out of jail for child support. He told me that its very, very hard for a man to find a job in this economy, and when he can’t he gets thrown in jail. Quite literally folks, this is what happens when he can’t get a job to pay his child support. And who hires people with criminal backgrounds? Not many.

You see the circle he is in don’t you? He is trying to get a job to support himself and pay his debts, but because nobody is hiring, especially an ex felon, he is in an endless circle of “breaking the law” for being broke. Now before you get on your high horse, I suggest you shut your mouth and consider to give this man at least the benefit of the doubt, instead of thinking, “he’s not trying hard enough”.

We talked at length about some things, and he then told me that because he just got out, he was looking for something to eat, and asked me for a couple of dollars. He could not have known if I had $100 or 10 cents, but I opened my wallet and took out $5 to give to him. Money was very hard for me to come by, but at least I knew I had a roof over my head, and a mom that looks out for me. He was very appreciative, and we talked about a few other things when he mentioned that he is not going to give up, because sooner or later God will bless him.

Inside, I almost laughed in sarcasm.

We pray for God to help us, yet this man can’t get a job because too many jerks in society continually condemn people with a past. The same ones that will get in church and praise God…for what?

I have been out since 2001 and my life as been pure hell, and most of it was in pursuit of a job or helping others. How can I believe that God is on my side, when my persecutions seem to grow when I try to do good?

Nevertheless, I did not want to disrupt his faith, so I acted like I agreed, when deep down, I could not. He seemed to be a guy that is trying to live on faith, and often times when you are down and out, it is all you have. I was not about to destroy that on him, although my heart did not feel the same way he did. Too many times I did things in faith, only to have it fall apart in my hands, and being left destitute from my help.

At any rate, we talked and he thanked me again for giving him a few dollars to get something to eat, as we parted ways, I was still in the mall and I went to visit a religious supply store in the mall. Usually when I come through the mall, I drop by to see how they are doing. I had gotten to know both guys that work there, and I could tell that their business was not moving as well as they wanted. In fact, I have visited there maybe about 5 or 6 times, and never did I see anybody buy anything. That’s not to say nobody ever did, I just never saw it when I was there.

As I walked, in, I looked at the guy and told him that I am going to buy something today. Sometimes if I had a couple of dollars, I would buy a spiritual bookmark, since that is like a dollar. But with more money, I could buy a little more. So I looked around and decided to buy a small tea set and another spiritual bookmark. I thought about buying a book, but at the time, my faith in a loving God, or one who blesses, was not strong enough to believe in any books on faith.

I spent about $8 there and talked to the guy about how the store was going. Because I have experience in radio, and advertising, I had been helping them with pointers of where to advertise and how. They had never explored the options I gave them, and it was new intel to them from a guy that had experience. I even told them next time I come through, I would gladly and FREELY write some 30 second ads for them, so if they decided to advertise on other radio stations, they could use that for script.

We talked a bit and I did my best to encourage them to hang in there, and after that I started for home. I walked home thinking, “why did you do what you did”?

Why spend money sending cds to somebody out of state?

Why give an ex con money, even MORE than what he asked?

Why spend a dollar in a religious supply store when your faith has seriously been shaken?

Why bother about those people? It’s not like God rewards kindness.

I tried to answer myself on those questions, but I kept coming up with, “because I care”. Did I do it to get attention? No, until now, nobody knew what I did until I blogged about it today. I didn’t have to give that ex con any money, I could have lied and said I had nothing, but not only did I give, I gave MORE than he asked. What kind of fool does that?

I didn’t have to buy anything out of that religious supply store, I didn’t even have to go there. But I did, and I spent money I don’t get quite often, and stayed there about 30 minutes talking about how they can help their store by advertising. What kind of idiot gives up that kinda info and money for nothing?

Deep inside, I was believing that maybe, just maybe, God would see a person’s heart, and reward them, or bless them. I mean, the Bible is full of scriptures of blessing for those that believe in Him. How then can God ignore acts of kindness and love from the heart? Surely He had to see what I was trying, and even if I am not perfect, surely if there is a God, He had to have seen it.

I walked home almost broke, not knowing where my next dollar was going to come from. At the time I was not blogging, and had no support at all. I had no income, and had no idea how to make money. I got home, and decided to get on my computer to see what was going on….

And found I had a virus on my computer. It took me 7 hours to figure out how to at the very least, get it back working. It just seemed like a slap in my face, that no matter what you do, if God wants something bad to happen to you, it is going to happen long before you get any blessings…if ever.

My heart was crushed when I sat down to think about it, what good did it do to help others, to care about others, to bless others with your time or money, if God turns a blind eye, and gives the green light to the devil to kick you in the mouth? Nothing in the Bible stated that Job was a bad person, nor his family, yet all his sons and daughters were slain by the devil…what did Job do to deserve such severe persecution?

I dare not compare myself to Job, I am not such a fool, but I wondered how God could allow so little mercy on one He Himself put on high esteem. I reasoned that it is God’s sovereign right to do as He please. A hundred people can pray for prosperity, and all die broke, while a hundred people that care only about themselves can find prosperity… it seems to be what God desires, if He wants it that way.

I struggled and struggled to find some reason, some flaw in my thoughts, knowing I was spiritually consumed because my life as an ex felon has not been too kind, and after years of blogging and other things, I can’t afford to buy myself a new pair of shoes unless mom gives me the money for it. It’s as if my world is slowly falling apart, piece by piece, and no prayers I have said has been attended to. I understand that persecution comes to those that believe in God, I got that part, and I am certainly getting that 100 fold. My time in prison was full of such persecution, my time after I got out, writing for prison support sites and blogs, was once filled with promise when I didn’t speak about faith in God, but when I started to try to get people to trust in God, everything fell apart.

I worked for not one, but TWO religious radio stations, helping one start out, but being paid far less than minimum wage by a cheap skate pastor, and having almost single handedly saving a second station after the General Manager passed way, only to have my job stolen by the very man I hired.

I know persecution folks. Not to say that I know it better than anybody, but I know enough of it to scream in pain spiritually.

That day when I went to that post office was about three weeks, maybe a month ago, but those feelings are ever so strong today. Perhaps I am doubly persecuted, one for being an ex felon, and two for believing that there is a God that will hear us when we call, and answer. Its not enough for Him to hear, anybody can do that. I can hear a child call for help while he is drowning 10 feet in front of me, but unless I DO something, then hearing is fruitless and worthless.

Somehow, someway, things HAVE to turn for me, I really, really want to do something to help those with loved ones in prison, but I have no idea how to turn it around. I have tried to stay in faith for years, and I have been unemployed as long. My computer is sorely out of date, and I need to get a new one so I can get back to writing my books, cards and other things. I need an income to get me back on my feet, so I can have the resources to show people that I can help, if given a chance. But have I wasted my time tithing to ministries and praying at night?

Does God ignore a prayer from an ex felon, and refuse the $2 or $3 dollars I send when I can to a ministry? Does all that count for nothing because of my past? I know that is the case for much of humanity, regardless of how much you help, but how can God ignore acts of kindness? I thought I was doing the right thing, trying to help those with a loved one in prison? I did not write 5000 pages because I liked it, I wrote it because somebody needed help, and I helped? Doesn’t that count for something to God?

I don’t expect some self-righteous person to understand the depths of what I am saying, to them I am just “venting” or “whining”, but unless you have read all my blogs over the last few years, you have no idea what I am really revealing to you. It leaves me in a state of wondering, what good is it to trust God to bless you, when He has His own ideas of whom He will bless? If God wants to bless a man that hates Jesus with the grand prize in a lottery, worth $200 million dollars, that is His right. And if this same God decides not to answer the prayers of a person crying on his knees nightly, then…. That is His right.

But tell me this…if indeed God is love….then define love to me.

So as of about 1:10am, I say to you that spiritually, I am severely wounded… but my desire to help another person is as strong as ever. I am very, very limited in what I can do, but at least for now I can write, and if so, I can share, and if so I can try to encourage. Maybe tomorrow my computer will break down, God knows it could happen, but if not, then maybe I can share more tomorrow.

But don’t let all I say get you down…I told you I would not sugarcoat my blogs, and if you wonder about my sincerity, it is laid out before you. Deep inside, I still believe in humanity, the good of humanity, but at this moment, I wonder, is it possible for man to love more than God…I mean, surely God would step in and help those who call… wouldn’t He?

Even those calls from an ex felon…I mean, I’m human too.

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