After a month of being cooped up inside the four walls of a gloomy Northern Oregon jail, I walked out into a warm spring day. It felt great to be out. I could smell the fresh spring air and it was wonderful to feel the warm sun. I had a new appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors. I felt like a brand new creature taking his first steps in a whole new world and I was happy in the Lord.
During the 30-day jail stay, one thing that really helped me was taking one day at a time. I kept praying, "Lord, please help me not to sell out. Please help me love my enemies."
Two weeks later, I was again staring at the walls of a jail - this time in Southern Oregon. After four days, I was released. I left the jail and walked across the bridge that spans the Rogue River. "I am crossing the Jordan, headed for the promised land," I said to myself.
After a few weeks of freedom, the same deputy arrested me again. This time he put the handcuffs on extra tight. I was put in a solitary "observation cell," where a video camera was pointed at me 24 hours a day.
I did not really have a jail plan. I halfheartedly decided to fast. After about five days, I started picking at the food, and that brought my taste buds back to life. It is much easier not to eat at all than to nibble at a morsel here and a morsel there. I was in no man's land for a "doubled minded man is unstable in all his ways," and I was "halting between two opinions."
Finally, I decided to eat the 10:00 p.m. snack, in its entirety. It was a very sweet pudding and I became ill. I hit my knees and asked for God's mercy and strength.
The jailers saw that I was floundering because I had eaten the pudding. The next day a pretty little guard walked up to my cell and looked sweetly at me with her soft brown eyes. "You don't look like the kind of guy that belongs here. I can tell you are having a miserable time. Why don't you just sign this and you can go home? This is no place for you."
I was so traumatized by all the days in jail that her offer looked good. I was right on the brink of signing when all of a sudden my spirit revived and that still small voice started shouting at me, "Don't sign, you'll lose your soul!" That was a close one.
A few hours later the jail sergeant called me into his office. He told me what a fine chap I was and said that surely I could keep my "religious beliefs" and still sign the release paper. I said, "No, I cannot sign."
When I returned to my cell, I started crying. "Oh Lord, is this all I have to look forward to for the rest of my life? jail, jail, jail?" I had been jailed three times in the last few months. The back-to-back jail stays were really getting me down, but somehow I managed not to sign out. Everything in me wanted to quit the race. The reality of the battle was sinking in and I really needed to cry out to God for strength. +++