It’s All About How Much He Loves Us
My journey with Christ has been one of ups and downs and it’s not because of Jesus but because of the differing beliefs and doctrines that I have been exposed to. I have been reflecting on my journey, starting when I was a little boy on through my time in prison and finally to where I am now. Through all of this, there has only been one constant: and that is how much He loves me.
I grew up in a great family, my mom and dad were models of how parents should be. I never lacked anything and was taken to church every Sunday. It was a large denominational church and using hindsight, seemed more like a social club than what a church should be. I remember hearing about Jesus, but never asked about salvation. We had to go to classes to become members of the church but the prayer of salvation was never offered.
I guess that I was a normal boy growing up, always getting into trouble and not listening to my parents. Whenever I got into trouble, my dad would bail me out either with money or a place to stay. Little did I know that all of the things that I was doing were placing extreme amounts of guilt and shame on the inside of me. I just kept on doing wrong though and eventually ended up in prison.
This is the place, when I was 36 years old that I discovered that without a doubt, Jesus was real. He literally saved me from being murdered in prison. You see, I kept the same I don’t care attitude that I had on the outside, inside the prison walls. As it turns out, the gangs in prison do not like that attitude and it was not too long before I was told that I would either join them or they would kill me that night when the lights went out.
I knew it would happen, I had seen it happen to others a few times. I am not ashamed to say that I was terrified to tears. I sat on my bunk with about 4 hours until the lights went out, literally. All I had to do was join, but my pride and fear mixed made me say no. Anyway, I sat there on my bunk trying to figure a way out of this, I mean, I could talk my way out of anything, I had always found a way. This time I couldn’t, every way out came out to me being beaten to death in 4 hrs.
Then, I remembered my dad taking me to church and I remembered someone called Jesus. I said this prayer, ” I do not know if you are real Jesus, but if you are and you save me from this; I can’t promise anything except that I will try and learn about you and who you are.” I then laid down and waited to die. Looking back some how I was at peace, the fear was still there but a peace was there as well, I cannot explain it.
The lights went out and I stood up and noticed the 15 or 20 guys coming across the day room toward me with pipes and other various weapons in there hands. As the lead guy came within 4 ft. of me and raised the pipe in his hand to smash me on the head, I closed my eyes. Nothing happened, I opened my eyes and the lights were on, and all of these guys were running back across the day room away from me. Then I heard another voice asking if my name was Willis. I turned and saw the guard, that had been outside standing by me and telling me to pack my bags because I was being transferred to another unit.
Jesus is alive and well!
I was transferred to another unit on the Texas and Mexican border, and it was just the start of my present walk with Jesus. I was chosen by the Chaplain to be his clerk and had church seven days a week. I made good on my statement to Jesus, mentioned above, and started studying the Bible. As it turns out, since I was the clerk that basically ran the church on the unit, I got to be instructed by all of the volunteers that came to preach and teach. This is when I found out how many different doctrines and opinions are in the church.
I was baptized in the Holy Spirit one night on my bunk and it scared the heck out of me because when I shot up in my bunk and started speaking in tongues, I thought that a demon or something bad had come onto me until the chaplain told me about the Holy Spirit. I was off and running now, I poured myself into His word and the Spirit started to teach me.
The problem was that as I learned something and shared it with the volunteers and the chaplain, I was corrected and told that what I had learned about grace, and love from the Spirit was wrong. Without exception I was steered toward the belief that we had to do things right and focus on our actions and the main theme was obedience was our responsibility. The Spirit had taught me, through His Word, that our responsibility was not to obey but to believe in Jesus and He would transform us by His Spirit into His image.
Nevertheless, I did as I was told and obeyed my elders. I was released and went home a different person. This difference was seen by everyone, the only problem is that it did not last. I was soon back into the things that had gotten me into trouble in the first place. It turns out that I knew the bible but not the One who wrote it. He had taught me the truth about Jesus, but men had turned me back to their doctrines of doing good and obedience. The problem with that is that it depends on our own will power to live that way and we will always come up short.
I was eventually sent to a parole violators facility and the same thing happened. I was chosen to be a chaplain clerk again, and dove into my bible studies once more. The difference this time was that the main theme that was taught and preached was how much Jesus loves us. I felt like I was home, because this is the message that I was taught in my own studies so long ago. When you realize how much Jesus loves you everything else is in that love. All of His blessings are in His love: Healing, peace, joy, strength, wealth and even youth. When I was finally released, I really did not want to go.
It has been over 12 years now since I left that place and I am still learning who Jesus is. I would love to say that it has been a cake walk these 12 years but that would be a huge lie. I still have my ups and downs, the difference is that now I know without a doubt that Jesus loves me, I mean look what He did for me on the cross! I also know that the ups and downs that I experience are because I stop looking at Jesus and His finished work, and start looking around me at my circumstances and life in general.
I now go to Grace Revolution Church and I feel like I am home again. I started watching Pastor Prince on TBN about 6 years ago and was amazed at his level of revelation of Jesus. Since listening to him preach and teach the ups are far out numbering the downs and it is all because he points us to the one who loves us enough to die on the cross for us. His name is JESUS! OH HOW HE LOVES YOU!