God Can Use Anyone that allows themselves to be used for his purposes.
I am convinced that God can use anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, if they allow themselves to be used for God’s purposes. Throughout the whole prison experience and even just prior, people of numerous faiths impacted my life in very positive and meaningful ways.
I suppose I should back up a bit and provide some background. Around 1999, Jehovah’s Witnesses used to come to my door almost every Saturday at 9AM. At the time I tended to stay up late and sleep in Saturdays and so these visits were not particularly welcomed. Finally, I told them I was Buddhist to get rid of them, and it worked. They did not come anymore.
Fast forward ten years. It was March of 2009. We had just had a winter storm dump a bunch of snow. At 2AM, my wife and I decided to go down to Purple Dot in Chinatown and get some food. It was 17 degrees out and there was 4-6 inches of fairly compacted snow on the streets.
When we left, a homeless man approached us asking for money and I just freaked out and got in the car and drove off. However, when I got home, I got to thinking, it’s 17°F outside, that man might freeze to death without food, and so I drove all the way back down and looked for him, but I could not find him.
I drove back home and when I got home, now 4:30AM, I really felt bad. I thought perhaps my fear and perhaps selfishness, may have cost someone their life. I said a very simple prayer then, it was only this, “God there is something really wrong with my heart. Please make my heart right.” I knew there would be substantial pain involved but I did not want to continue living the way I was.
At 10:30AM there was a knock on the door. It was a couple of police detectives. They asked about me and my relationship with my daughter, what I had done to her. I answered as honestly as I could. I did not remember much of it at the time, I had repressed much of it and only became aware of much of what I did during the time I was in therapy during my last year of prison.
I know of other people who have committed heinous crimes who claimed they did not remember and others would say they were lying. Perhaps, if they were sociopaths, but otherwise probably not. When you do something terrible to someone you love, it is difficult reconcile and it is extremely painful, repression is a not uncommon mental and emotional defense system to be invoked. It is bad though because if you do not remember what you did and the events that led up to it, it is difficult to prevent their reoccurrence. When I entered therapy, memories of the events came back to me initially in dreams, and then upon waking I would realize that it had really happened. It seemed like a nightmare that kept getting deeper and deeper. Still I felt like I was getting my life back, it had logical continuity instead of big blocks of missing time and things started to make sense.
My point here is this, don’t assume someone is lying when you don’t know, especially if their victim is a close relative, someone they love and care about even if they were completely incapable of expressing that love. They may well have repressed the details of their crime. I do not know if a polygraph would help in these situations where you can’t remember consciously but subconsciously the memories are preserved in vivid detail.
I knew at that time that God was answering my prayer. When you pray be careful what you ask for. Still, I’m not sorry that I asked for this, in spite of the pain involved. I’ll add, I know that I am a work in progress, but much work has been done. I know it will take a lifetime commitment and a lifetime and I know that God will not abandon me half-way.
I’m going to skip the details of all the court procedures and evaluations that were involved prior to actually entering a plea because they aren’t salient to this particular point. After all of these procedures, the time was coming where I would have to go down and formally enter a plea, and since I was going to plead guilty, I knew I would be taken into custody at that point.
Months before this point came, Romans 8:28 kept entering my life, on radio programs, films, commercials, just everywhere. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” And I knew the meaning of this for me was that I had asked God to do something and it was his will to do it, and all of what I was going to be going through was for this purpose, his purpose.
This kept showing up time and time again, and then on the evening before I was to go down and enter a plea and be taken into custody, Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. And I allowed them to witness to me because at this point I was eager to hear God’s word, eager to know what he wanted me to do, and what was next. Romans 8:28 came up in that conversation also but so did so much else that was so very relevant to my situation even though they did not know my situation, God, did and used them to talk to me.
The entire time I was in King County prison, before I was sentenced and sent off to Washington State Prison’s intake facility at Shelton, the Jehovah’s Witnesses visited me weekly and those visits were a major part of what allowed me to survive mentally and certainly contributed much to my spiritual growth.