|From Timothy Ross, Jr. (page one)||From Timothy Ross, Jr. (page two)|
|From Timothy Ross, Jr. (page three)||From Timothy Ross, Jr. (page four)|
I doubt I’ll say that in response—who am I to rain on his parade and tell someone to feel bad when they say they feel good? Besides, by the time he gets another letter from my slow-ass letter-writing self, his up will have long gone down (if prison is like it’s always been, and if he’s anything like me or the several thousand inmates I’ve known).
I’ve learned from over 4 years in the county jail, as have others with similar experience, that, while youth affords you the occasional mood spike (even though in custody), any sense of contentment or well-being you garner is brief, and is followed by a dip-down so low, it literally hurts in the physical sense. A few hours ago, I had a dream about being in jail while having one of the daily episodes of painful depression I used to have while there. Just like in reality, it washed over my body suddenly, without abating in intensity or strength (albeit only for a few minutes, though memorable enough to cause nightmares); and, like in reality, I was praying like a man with a loaded gun pointed to his head, begging God to give His full attention to my pain as I endured it.
NOTE | It’s how I learned the difference between a real prayer and all other kinds, and is what led me to a kinship with those who wouldn’t bother hearing or praying anything but the real thing, our mutual incarceration notwithstanding.
Very little to work with…
At a glance, it looks like he has only two things going for him: that he’s still healthy (can you imagine being sick behind bars?), and that he’s too young (by merit of the fact that he is not yet old) to fully comprehend the degree to which he is being set back in life (his health is being taken away at triple the rate of life on the outside, at least; not too mention that the remaining years of his work life are insufficient to adequately care for himself when it’s gone). That’s not a lot to work with; and, given the fact that, although I know his pain—and, sometimes, in some ways, still feel it—none of those two things qualify me to take his pain away or to mitigate his circumstances.
Come as ye are, whosoever will
Luckily, I think he may have all he needs anyway—at least the most thing—and that is his seemingly unquestioned assurance that he belongs to Christ, and that Christ gladly receives Him. Timothy is correct in that knowledge, in that Jesus demonstrated emphatically and numerous times by and through his various interactions with the people of his time—specifically, the diseased, the sinful, the hated, the lower class and those otherwise in discrimination—that he explicitly and indisputably accepts all those repentant who come to God for forgiveness through Him.
Thankfully, I doubt I’ll ever see a letter from him, asking, Will God heal me even though I am who and what I am, and will He forgive me even though I do and have done what I do and did? What demonstrates or suggests that it is the nature of Christ to forgive a wretch like me?
But, if he does, my answer is prepared thusly:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Jesus demonstrated a meek and lowly heart during His earthly ministry by seeking and offering Himself to those society deemed unworthy, and, in particular, when He:
- ate with sinners, explaining to those who questioned Him:
They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
- accepted the worship and plea for forgiveness of a woman, contrite for her widely known sins, and in the home of a man known for his piety, highly discriminate of such persons:
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
Luke 7:39-43, 48
- stayed a woman’s execution, suggesting a parallel between those accusing her and the adulteress:
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
- physically touched a leper and outcast, one deemed unholy, with compassion and sympathy:
And he put forth his hand, and touched him.
- conversed with a Samaritan woman, much to the disbelief of his own disciples:
And upon this came his disciples, [who] marvelled that he talked with the woman.
- healing the daughter of a Syro-Phoenician woman:
For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
NOTE | It was not her somewhat clever answer that compelled Jesus to heal; rather, it was her foreknowledge of the coming Christ that proved her faith (and faith being the power behind Jesus’ ability to heal); specifically, she demonstrated her faith by having rightly discerned from the Scriptures that, whoever the Christ may be and from wherever He might come, He would save all, even if He were born into one culture that would not feed another even if it starving.
- entered the house of Zaccheus, a publican and chief of publicans:
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
…but, still, something to work with
Nobody who has the confidence shown by Timothy in his letter who doesn’t have sincere belief in his heart. That I can work with. When God says something, and you believe God—like, truly believe Him in whatever He says—as Timothy so clearly demonstrates—God credits your faith as righteousness:
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.