“My father taught me, ‘Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live.'” Proverbs 4:4
Purpose – n. Idea or aim kept before the mind as the end of effort; an end desired; a useful function; a definite intention.
Quite often we hear people say they are looking for their purpose in life. Perhaps you have sought purpose or meaning in your life. Native cultures around the world are rife with examples of rites of passage, walkabouts or “finding oneself.”
Much of our lives are consumed with self-absorbed behavior as we seek this mysterious purpose. The dead ends, frustrations and hamster wheel meaninglessness leading to unrealized potential, procrastination, psychosis, addictions or, in best case scenarios, self-righteousness and pride. In seeking our purpose we attempt to build ourselves up only to experience despair at the utter lack of meaning and then we die.
Tony Casson observed one day, during one of our innumerable laps around the asymmetrical rec yard track, “God created us because he wants to hang out with us.” Profound in its simplicity, Tony completely described our purpose: we were created to glorify God. It is in trying to assign our own meaning to existence that we go astray.
Isaiah 49:5 says, “We were formed in our mother’s womb to be submitted to God.” II Thessalonians 3:11-12 “…that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you….”
For me it took the humbling experience of prison to come to the realization of the difference between purpose and use: God will use us where we are once we fulfill our purpose.
This long-winded introduction is an expression of gratitude to God. I thank him for being present in the bloody shower stall of a cheap Florida motel. There he forgave the sins of a man who finally discovered his purpose. It was not ever God’s intent for Tony to end his life. But in that act of final desperation, He got Tony’s attention, pulled him back from the grave, and is using him in mighty ways. Most of which we may never know.
Soon I leave FCI Oakdale, this is my last submission to The Oakdale Chronicles (TOC) as a prisoner and I take this opportunity to thank God for the gift of Tony Casson. Through his friendship I step out of these prison walls confident that God uses, and will continue to use, me too.
Christian singer Kerrie Roberts, in the song “In Your Sight,” sings, “I wish I could have the wisdom of a broken heart without all the pain.” These lyrics sum up a familiar sentiment for me. Through my own painful experience God has crushed my prideful spirit and made me a man. I will forever carry the stigma of the sinner I was. Like Paul’s thorn and Jacob’s limp, it will serve as a reminder of how far God has brought me. I am wiser now, painfully so, and eternally grateful for the opportunity to return to a supportive family. To these wonderful people I am a better husband, father, brother and son. To my friends, I thank you for the phone calls, cards and letters. You have taught me powerful lessons in forgiveness.
To the readers of TOC, thank you for your support of possibly the closest friend (outside of my wife!) I’ve ever had. I encourage you to visit TOC often, make comments to what you read (Tony beams when people leave comments to articles), and offer contributions of your own. Tony welcomes those with stories to share. No whiners allowed.
To Tony, God Bless You. You’ve tolerated my sarcasm, contrary viewpoints, ups and downs. We’ve celebrated and cried together and once I made you so mad that … well, it’s behind us now. You are a fantastic man deserving of many blessings. I pray for your success with C.A.N. and the Significant Seven (I leave the explanations to Tony). Godspeed my friend. Thank you for allowing yourself to be used of God.