MOMMA GOT GROCERIES
          (The John Green Story)

 (By: John Green)

I always wondered what my purpose was.  It seems like trials and troubles come my way in order to see if they would break my faith and trust in my Lord and redeemer, Jesus Christ. Are you at a point in your life where you feel that seems to be what life is about for you as well?

I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland until the age of seven.  I was the fifth child out of seven; born to a mother who was a single parent.  Raising us kids by herself wasn’t an easy task.

Growing up in the 1960’s was very painful for most black folks. In the Cherry Hill Section of Baltimore where we lived, there were always killings and racial violence.  Dope pushers, pimps, scam artists and prostitutes were our role models in our neighborhood, because they had the most money.

I was age five, growing on six, when my Momma first taught me the lesson of having faith in a God that is unseen. 

You see, back then growing up on three meals a day was unheard of in our house.  The four oldest kids were old enough to go to school.  I thought that must be the greatest place in the whole world, because they always came home with nice smells on their clothes and had small smiles on their faces -- or at least until they got home.

You see, breakfast, as many know it today in America, was out of the question.  Our midday meal consisted of grits, salt and some dirty stuff that I later learned was pepper.  Dinner consisted of bony chicken backs and some green split pea soup.

Those were the days when things weren’t going so well.  Our apartment was in a basement. We had so many rats and roaches throughout our apartment house -- I thought my Momma bought them to keep us kids busy.

Even in my small mind I felt she had the nerve to keep spending all the money on buying more of those things, when I couldn’t even find a glass of milk or a piece of bread to eat.  The only reason I eventually believed Momma wasn’t using money to buy them was because she would try to help us kill those rats and roaches; chasing them away from our bowls of food, or my baby sister’s baby bottles. Yet they always came back with more of their friends.

I used to hear my Momma cry a lot back then.  I don’t know if it was because of the rats running through the walls and squeaking and scratching all the time, or because she couldn’t keep enough food in the house to feed us kids.  But she used to cry and cry and call out to this person named Jesus that we never got to see.

Momma and her make-believe friend Jesus spent a lot of time together whenever Momma was crying. 

I do know this: one evening food was so low I saw my momma sifting through the kitchen trash bags for the potato peelings she had thrown in there two days earlier.  She was sitting there crying loudly … talking to her Jesus, begging for him to help her.  Now I loved my Momma more than life itself, and every time she cried it made us younger kids cry. 

My sister, Ella, and I walked into the kitchen to see what was wrong with Momma. She only shouted for us to let her be.  But I crawled down on the floor with her anyway and started picking out those old potato skins with her like it was a game.  But Momma only cried out harder and pulled me to her breast and started saying stuff like:  “Lordy, Jesus, Father God … please help me.” 

Anyway, after Momma washed them skins and fried them, I can swear it tasted like the best meal I’ve ever eaten.

One day I woke to hear Momma arguing or screaming about something.  I thought it was those pesky rats again.  But my mother was trying to get all of us kids to cooperate in her game she called: “Going Shopping.”  She used to play games with us a lot, mainly to keep our thoughts off the pain in our bellies.  She started giving out orders about who was to do this or that and what was to go where.

Momma was on a chair by the icebox cleaning out the cabinets like we were preparing to put real groceries away.  This game went on and on until long after dark.  Finally, one by one, we kids began to drift away to some corner of the apartment, mainly because we were weak from lack of food.  The only reason it lasted as long as it did was because it made our Momma smile and sing songs. She was singing how this Jesus was so good to her and all she had to do was call out to him and he would come by to see about her.

This went on for two days. We kids suffered to the point of Momma thinking the younger babies were dead . . . or about to breathe their last breath.

I awoke to panic - loud voices - the older kids screaming and laughing  - running feet and banging doors.  I walked to the kitchen doorway.  I couldn’t believe what I was actually seeing with tired eyes.  But to this day, God be my witness, my Momma was on that same chair putting real canned goods in the cabinets and food in the icebox.

There were real groceries that covered our small kitchen floor, table and those the older kids had in their arms.  I watched and listened to Momma thank her friend Jesus for answering her prayers. 

Momma’s faith taught me something so real that even to this day I know without a doubt that God is able to make even the impossible possible, and it doesn’t matter what the situation looks like or how you may feel.  God hears our every prayer.  Even in the hardest of times when it seems that the Lord is so far away and so removed from your pain and heartache  . . . He is hearing your heart's cry and feeling your pain.  If we can just quiet our soul for a few brief moments and tell Him "Thank you, Father, for this time of great trial, because a loving Father only allows  what is ultimately best for us, and I confess you as my one and only heavenly Father.  I know somehow ... You are working good out of the affliction I am going through. 

Prayer and trust does change things.  Sometimes it's external circumstances or events that get changed.  Sometimes the greatest change is in our heart.  Keep the faith that God will provide what He determines you need no matter what your eyes may see before you, or what circumstances may seem to be indicating.  Be willing to change what God is asking you to change. Be willing to admit if you made a wrong choice.  He'll always grant you the grace to do what He desires for you to do, if He desires for you to do something other than what you already know to do. 

Just remember ... God is never your enemy.  He's always your friend, even if everything in you at the moment says you would rather not be friends with Him.  He didn't put you on this planet for lack of a better place to put you.  Your purpose for being here at this time, in the situation you are in, is the highest purpose God in His infinite wisdom and love had for you before the foundation of the world itself.  The pain you might be in right now is neither a mistake on God's part or a lack of his love for you.  Rather ... because He  loves you so much ... He is shaping you into a creation of beauty beyond your wildest comprehension.  Scripture promises it.

As I write this from my prison cell, I chose to believe the very same for myself, though at weak moments I sometimes have to get on my knees before God and ask Him for grace to make it through the day.  Logically, I could say all these things outside of these prison walls just as well, but then if I was outside of these prison walls, maybe I would be like so many others who may never take the time to write them.  And maybe ... just  maybe ... I would never have been able to write them in the first place, had I not have gone through some of the fiery trials I've gone through here in prison.

In Christ’s Service,

John F. Green - #98-B-1357
Auburn Correctional Facility
135 State Street
Auburn, New York 13021


[EDITOR’S NOTE:  We are so thankful to God and brother John for sharing this priceless letter with us.  In a way, it seems so sacred that it is almost an injustice to say another word.  Yet my heart is stirred, and I believe the Spirit of the Lord is moving me to share a few things that are burning in my soul.

In a very popular book that has ministered to so many people, titled:  The Purpose Driven Life, authored by Rick Warren (which I would encourage everyone to read that gets the chance), Rick speaks wisely of one of the five purposes of life being about three things: 

1): Life is a TEST  2):  Life is a TRUST  3):  Life is a TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT

I'm don't feel to elaborate in detail about these three components of life here, except to say that if you are wondering what your life is all about, you can be certain that it is about being "tested" time after time.  God will allow circumstance after circumstance to unfold in your life for the explicit purpose of causing you to make choices that will effect your eternity.  The choices you make will ultimately reveal what is at the core of your being.  Should you get tired of seeing just how ugly and ungodly the core of your being actually might be, [as God is constantly revealing about my core nature] by God's grace you'll be asking Him to help you change.  To do that, you will be forced to "trust."  Through all the testing an trusting that we will go through ... God is merciful to us to let us know from the Bible that in light of eternity ... our time here on earth is a very "temporary assignment."  If we live to be 100 years old or older ... that is a very short span of time in light of eternity. 

Having said the above ... all of the wrong, all of the suffering, all of the injustice, all of the sickness and disease, all of the hunger and poverty,  all of the discrimination, all of the violence and war, everything evil that can be named or experienced ... will ALL be used in one form and fashion or another for those who end up in heaven with God ... for their ultimate good in eternity, and for the ultimate glory of God.

Let us constantly be reminded: God is ULTIMATELY in control of Satan and his demon helpers.  God always was, and He always will be.  So to somehow think that God is not ultimately in control is a false belief.   There is nothing Satan ever has done, or could possibly be allowed to ever do in the future, that would enable him to have full control over anything or anyone.  God the Creator is so wise, so all-knowing, so powerful, that no matter WHAT Satan might desire to do ... Satan will only be allowed by God to do what God permits him to do.  When God permits Satan to do anything upon earth, God has some ultimate good to be accomplished by it.  We most likely won't see that good until we get to heaven, so we must be patient and trusting.

Sandwiched somewhere between the sovereignty of God over all the affairs of mankind and "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,"  (1 Peter 5:8) ...   is the personal responsibility of believers to actively engage in spiritual warfare against evil.  God emphatically warns and exhorts us to do so in Ephesians 6:10-18:

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  [It then goes on to name those weapons of warfare the believer is to utilize].   

Thus we are at all times to have peace in our hearts that no matter what the devil might be doing on planet earth and more specifically, against us individually, we are also always to seek the Lord as to how His Spirit might lead us to actively engage in utilizing the armor of God to keep us protected from attacks of the devil so the devil will not gain any advantage in our lives.  In the Lord's prayer, we are exhorted to pray daily that God will keep evil from us, and keep us from undue temptation.  If we don't, the implication is that the devil may just be allowed to inflict pain on us that God would rather not be inflicted ... but will allow to happen if we don't due our part in working with God to answer the prayers we pray for our protection.        

Until Jesus returns for His Bride, the Body of Christ (the Church), scripture assures us that evil will grow worse on the earth, not grow less.  In one’s search for answers as to why God allows Satan to have influence still over the affairs of mankind, we must always keep one thing in mind:  The testing of our faith to make us more Christ like – to show what we’re made of when the pressure is on – requires opposition.  No doubt God has numerous other means of bringing about “fire” to purge us and refine us into the image of Jesus Christ.  But from the Holy Bible it becomes quite apparent that God is going to allow the devil to be used from time to time to facilitate this tempering process.  In God’s wisdom, our worst enemies can become useful to Him to bring about refining fire in our lives.  After all: let’s keep one thing in mind:  This life is our time of probation.  Life is one big spiritual test. Everyone would become Christians if they could be guaranteed a billion dollars, no sickness, pain, or bondage in this life.  Who truly likes suffering?  If all people had to do to eliminate suffering was to become a Christian, the world would be converted instantly!  

What IS John Green’s purpose here in this life?  I can give you the ultimate answer.  It’s the same for every person: To glorify God during one’s life.   The ultimate testing of our determination to glorify God comes when the pain is most excruciating, because that is the most difficult test any of us will most likely go through, but the most priceless!  This was the ultimate reason Job was tested.  You and I will never be exempt in this life from "mini-Job" to "maxi-Job" testings either. God has all power to do as He pleases.  But the one thing He won’t do is use it to MAKE us glorify Him.  We must choose to do so.  It's easy to do that when all is going well.  For most ... it's the most  difficult thing to do if God allows the pain to be intense enough.  Yet through all of life's pain, that is what God finds the most precious in our core being.  The soul who will praise Him and keep thanking Him and keep being thankful and keep trusting that God knows what is best for each of us ... though the pain may literally slay us and take us to our grave, (as it has many martyr's from times past and up to this very moment somewhere around this plant) ... God has our ultimate good as His motive for allowing it.

The greater the hardships and injustices one experiences, the harder it may be.  On the other hand, those with wealth and power and influence seem to have little desire to do so either.  Mostly the broken and the humble strive to glorify God in whatever state they find themselves in, and it’s not always easy.  God calls them the ‘Heroes of the Faith’.  There is a play that goes on in heaven every day, I would suppose.  People like John’s Momma are those on stage, for all to see.   These are God’s prized masterpieces – those who will rule and reign with Him for eternity.  Rule and reign over WHAT?  Partly, over joy.  They will be co-recipients and co- dispensers of joy that will know no end.  As there is no end to God’s love – there will be no end to joy . . . for those who keep trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord to the very end in this life . . . no matter how hard it has been, and no matter how hard it might get. 

God can orchestrate a miracle anytime He wants.  God can miraculously answer a prayer every time one is prayed.  But life teaches us that many times He doesn’t.  Yet for those who keep praying and trusting, when nothing appears to be happening (and in fact might never happen), yet says to themselves … “It doesn’t really matter.  I’m going to keep on serving Him and praising Him and giving thanks to Him in all things and for all things ... though life itself slay me, because that is what is pleasing to Him.  To glorify Him in whatever state I am in, to the very end.”

Perhaps in so doing … to HIM … that is the greatest miracle of all.       

John Green’s Momma had every human excuse to curl her fist at God and curse Him for all eternity for the situation she and her children were in.  It would seem she had every ‘right’ to be upset at God for taking so long to show up with groceries.  But guess what?  She chose to fight a fight of faith that not many would probably have fought.  Now let me ask you: If you were God, who would you want to reward the greatest in eternity: someone who says this woman was a fool to do what she did?  Or … would you look down on a single mother like this and say:  “Check this lady out.  John’s Momma has the resolve to move universes.  Angels … get her some groceries before she starts cooking those rats!”

And just another thought:  Maybe – just maybe … God allowed one child to see the faith of a desperate mother … so while in prison he would write about that story . . . to be a testimony that could be used to minister to multitudes over time. One of those people might just be you, or someone you are to forward a copy of this testimony to.

Norm Rasmussen,
Director


Dear Reader - are you at peace with God?  If not, you can be.  Do you know what awaits you when you die?  You can have the assurance from the Holy Spirit that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain.  Either Jesus Christ died for yours sins, or He didn't (He did!).  Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to cover your sins?  We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.

To be at peace with God; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help understand the importance of being reconciled to God.  What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one.  Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life. 


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