Chapter 14



An inmate has a lot of time on his hands. It is important to fill that time with creative and stimulating hobbies and leisure time activities. This leads to a well balanced life in prison. As new Christians in prison, we tend to feel like we have to use every spare moment for Bible study and since we have so much time this can create a major unhealthy guilt trip.

I was one of those Christian inmates that felt that way at first. I wouldn't buy a TV or read any books other than a book that was centered on Christian living or God or prayer.  At first, some might say, 'good job' or 'right on brother', but the truth is that I was missing out on a lot of joy and peace in my life from this self restriction. It made me feel guilty if I wanted to watch TV, etc. I begrudged those who did watch TV and read novels. My opinion rubbed off on others that asked me about my strict lifestyle. This created arguments between them and others eroding much of the Christian harmony we should have had.

God revealed to me as I matured as a Christian that this was not His will. You might say, 'How can you be in bondage by reading the Bible?' The bondage was that I was not walking by faith. I was trusting a self imposed strict regiment that enclosed me in a bubble. Walking by faith would mean that I had to get out of this self made bubble and trust God to guide me.

When I began to realize this, it was hard to adjust for fear that I might go over board the other way and get wrapped up in things that I couldn't get away from. As pathetic as it was, this overly strict lifestyle had provided security and a comfort zone. I also didn't want to compromise my testimony to the other men in anyway.

Unfortunately, I did go over board and got so involved in activities that I didn't read the Bible regularly. I knew that God wanted me to get involved in activities like running, weight lifting, volleyball, crafts and just hanging out with others, but by cutting my personal Bible reading down, I cut out the guidance I needed for spiritual growth and direction. On the outside, no one really noticed, but I knew I was lacking concerning my personal Bible time. I still attended church and unit Bible studies, but on the inside I was not happy. I would go to bed and knew I needed to talk with God, but didn't.

Then one day I got tired of the struggle and asked God to help me figure out where I had gone wrong. He let me know that I was trying to do it all myself again; first, the overly strict lifestyle and then handling the change of lifestyle without prioritizing prayer and leaning on him.

It taught me an important lesson as a new Christian, to always lean on God, in all situations. I had to give up control of everything and trust God to show me the way. True freedom in Christ is complete trust in God showing you the way through the good times and the bad times of life. He will teach a new Christian what to do and when to do it.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.   (Colossians 3:23 NKJV)

There is much more to God than studying His Word, the Bible. I need to live in ways pleasing and honoring to Him in all that I do. I felt relieved when God helped me change my self restrictive lifestyle and have continued to enjoy many activities from that time on.

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