"But God" is a phrase that encompasses the hope that is within the veil that is the anchor of our very souls.
We were in the depravity of our minds, the deceitfulness of our hearts, and the wickedness of our actions... BUT GOD!
How beautiful these words are as we look up from the pits we have dug with our own hands... but God :-)
Below is a letter from an email prayer update I receive from a beautiful woman of God who leads precept classes in a women's prison... don't miss the "but God" and when you finish reading please also lift Mary Alice up in prayer as she goes to the front lines to teach the Word of God to those that a lot of us would never even consider as having hope of repentance and entrance into the kingdom of Light... but God...
"For while we were still helpless,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will hardly die for a righteous man;
though perhaps for the good man
someone would dare even to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.
Dear Praying Friends,
2:30pm class: Before class I noticed Virginia's gigantic smile and couldn't help but ask, "Virginia, what's up?"
You won't believe what the Lord has done! I have been down (incarcerated) for 39 years! I'm 73 years old! They wouldn't even give me a parole date! The chairman of the parole board told me last time that I was lucky she was retiring because, there was no way she would grant me parole! Well, there she was, sitting on the board again.
My lawyer leaned over to me and said, 'This doesn't look good, she's back.'
And I told him, 'God is in control of my future, not this board.'
Virginia said, "When I entered the room, I smiled at everyone....they smiled back!"
"It's such a wonderful feeling when you know God is in charge," she noted to me with absolute assurance. "Much to everyone's surprise, they observed the change in me and granted me parole, my date is in March 2012!"
She continued her story, "I did some really bad things in the 60's, she hung her head and whispered something about teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa, smuggling drugs and guns to Mexico. I hurt everybody I came in contact with and if I do get out, somehow I want to make it up to them. Especially my family and friends. I caused a lot of pain, MaryAlice. I caused a lot of pain."
"Virginia," I comforted, "We can't make up for the pain we've caused people. But what we can do is received God's forgiveness and offer our sincere apologies."
"Oh, I have," she interrupted, "Everyone of them have forgiven me. But I just feel like I need to do something for all I've done."
"You can, Virginia," I encouraged, "Please God by growing in Him and serving Him and He will take care of the rest!"
She proceeded to tell me about how mean she was and that she was sent to different prisons all over the US to house her. "Some states didn't want me," she recounted. "I was really bad. I would slash officers if they got even close to me and if I couldn't reach them I would slash myself," she said as she held up her arms so I could see the scars. "I was a wild man," she shook her head, "But God...."
"Oooh, my favorite two words," I interrupted!
"Mine too," Virginia agreed. "But God kept sending officers and health workers and even a warden to me who didn't give up on me. Who were compassionate and kind. I would get even meaner, but they just kept being kind until I couldn't take it anymore...I couldn't be mean...how can you be mean to so much compassion and kindness? It broke me! I cried and cried." (That's a BIG deal in prison, no one admits to crying!)
I thought to myself...the love of God compels me...His mercies are new every morning...
Virginia changed from that day forward...it's been 10 years since that day, but the last year has been a huge change! She is totally sold out to our Jesus! She handles the Word with accuracy and can make application. Wow! But there's more...
When you break a law in prison, "Bad points" are applied against you on your record. The most "good points" you can earn in a year to remove the "bad points" are 8. Virginia has over 400 bad points against her still but the parole board intentionally overlooked those due to the remarkable transformation! "It's God, MaryAlice, it's God! There's just no other explanation for it! I didn't ask for anything, I was content with 'whatever you want, Lord' and look what He did!"
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creature;
the old things passed away; behold,
new things have come."
2 Corinthians 5:17