Recorded at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA – 11/1/15 – Jennifer Allison
Every time I step out of my comfort zone and follow God’s calling, I get to witness Him do miraculous things. In the audio message above, I share 7 principles that God taught me about Himself while I was speaking with inmates in prison. I’ve learned more about His power, mercy, grace and forgiveness while talking to addicts, murderers and thieves, than I have sitting in a pew. Helping others has allowed me to experience Him first-hand which is truly awesome!
My parents gave me the chore of weeding our garden as a kid, which I wasn’t very fond of. It was a constant, grueling battle between me and the weeds. If I didn’t do my job properly the nasty intruders would eventually choke out and kill the fruit we intended to grow.
The Bible has a similar warning against bad roots. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.”
If you’ve been hurt deeply by someone else, this is much easier said than done. I’ve been abused, molested, raped, conned, cheated on, lied to, slandered and mocked. I also raised my 21-year-old son without a dime of child support. Those things wounded me deeply and hurt for many years. However, God repeatedly pushed me to forgive. The closer I grew to Him, the more I found peace and freedom from the torment that consumed me. Then I began to live in victory, rather than as a victim.
However, was forgiveness enough? From time to time I still find myself thinking, “Why have they gotten away with their crimes? It’s not right. I wish they’d get what they deserve!”
Bitterness is like a weed. It has roots that grow fast and strong, which attempt to choke out the good fruit in my life. If I entertain vengeful thoughts for long, my heart starts racing and I become angry all over again. I was thinking about this a few days ago as I was driving to a prison in South Georgia to encourage inmates. God keeps using my experiences to help others who are hurting, which is amazing. But He has a funny way of always teaching me something too. There’s no doubt I had a divine appointment that day…and not just for the inmate’s benefit.
Most of us look back on our high school days with fond memories and generally regard that time of our life with nostalgia. However, I want to tell you about a ninth grade girl whose life took a radical turn in one single moment. And her memories of “the good old days” are very different from ours.
At age 15, Keisha moved out of her parent’s home and started living with a friend. Any kid that would prefer to face the world without her mom and dad, must have had a hard life. One afternoon, while riding in a car with a young man she knew, they got into a heated argument. It was the final straw for Keisha. Years of pain bubbled to the surface and a dark rage boiled inside. She was done with being disrespected. When the vehicle came to a stop at the next light, Keisha took hold of a gun, put it to the boy’s temple, then pulled the trigger. That split second decision changed her life forever. While her friends had fun going to the movies, Prom and graduation, she sat alone in prison for felony murder.
While growing up my mother always made me brush my teeth and visit the dentist regularly. She even washed my mouth out with soap quite often, but that’s a whole different story. I hate going to the dentist. In fact, I could honestly say I’d rather undergo surgery than to have some man’s hands and a loud shrieking drill inside my ever-so-sensitive mouth. Unfortunately, even something as innocent as candy can be toxic to a beautiful smile. And sometimes we can tell right away how hard someone’s life has been just by his or her smile.
A few days ago I went to visit inmates in a county jail. I love sharing a message of hope and forgiveness with people who feel desperate, rejected and abandoned. Because I’ve survived a multitude of sins and traumatic situations myself, I want them to know how much God can change their lives if they surrender to Him, just like He did for me.