Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: Mind If I Sit Here?
By Judy Bowers
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Max soon found life behind bars unbearable. The toughness he and his friends thought they possessed was nothing compared to what he encountered in fellow inmates. There was anger everywhere, ready to erupt at any moment. Although locked up, he felt more vulnerable than at anytime since this parents divorce.
Without alcohol or drugs to numb the pain and ease the confusion, he had no escape at all. Max had nearly reached his emotional breaking point – he could not live with so much pain and anger and guilt.
Always watching each other for their own safety, it was another inmate, Rafe, who noticed Max. Rafe recognized the tough exterior Max projected in an effort to hide the real and imagined fears that doing time can breed.
One day Rafe spotted Max sitting alone in the cafeteria and approached. “Mind if I sit here”? he asked.
“Suit yourself,” Max replied without looking up as he continued to shovel the tasteless food into his mouth.
Taking a seat on the other side of the table, Rafe probed, “Prison life sure sucks, don’t it?”
“I can handle it,” Max growled in response.
“Hey, man, I didn’t say you couldn’t. I was just sayin’ there’s not much to do here. Listen, some of us go to these meetings, “ Rafe offered, trying to sound as casual as a disinterested neighbor.
“What kind of meetings?” Max asked while wondering if they were planning some kind of an escape attempt.
Rafe paused for a minute trying to decide how much to tell Max about their meetings. “Well … we just talk some … sometimes we sing … and we talk about this guy named Jesus,” he explained as he took a quick glance at Max trying to assess his reaction.
Annoyed, Max shot back, “Hey, look man, I outgrew that Jesus crap a long time ago! That stuff is for sissies and dumb old ladies. I don’t have time for that s__t!”
“Well, like I said, there’s not much to do in here. If you change your mind you can join us at 7:00 in the meeting room,“ Rafe suggested as he stood up and walked away.
Back in his cell, Max knew Rafe was right about one thing, there was not much to do in prison except to wish you were somewhere else. At five before 7:00, Max decided to go to the meeting room – it couldn’t be any worse than just sitting alone in a bare cubicle.
Miraculously, that night Max learned first-hand about the redemptive power of God’s love. Max experienced the Lord’s presence in his life and received God’s gift of peace and joy. Having reached the bottom, Max’s life now took a turn upward with a true friend, Jesus. Prison life was still tough but Max had a companion who had met him where he was, who accepted him for the sinner he was, and who would be with him through it all. Max no longer felt alone.
Max earned his GED and discovered along the way that he enjoyed writing. He didn’t write to formula or to please anyone but his Lord. Max wrote what was in his heart, what he felt the Lord had placed on his heart for him to share. With practice over time, his grammar and spelling improved dramatically. Max was a good writer, and yes, Max found a publisher.
Prison life remained a hard way to live, but he had found a true friend in Jesus who was with him at all times. After serving twenty years of his life sentence, Max was released. He is now employed as a drug and alcohol counselor. He is also studying for an undergraduate degree in counseling. Max continues to write from his heart and his writings continue to get published. And, Max continues to walk with his best friend, his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
*This writing is loosely based upon a true story.
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