When I was a substance abuse counselor at the county jail, I made a lot of friends. Some kept in touch even after I left there for another position. One fellow was Lance. He wrote me, then he drifted out of sight. Time passed and then a letter came:
"I bet that you thought that you would never hear from me again, huh? I finally got out of jail after two years and was doing really well - promotion at my job, my ex-girlfriend and I buying a 4-unit apartment building and fixing it all up. Life was great 'on the outside.'"
Being a substance abuse counselor, I accented AA's 12-step program, particularly step one whereby individuals are reminded of God. Lance was one who took that step to heart. He was reading his Bible, being faithful in daily prayer and trying his best to live the Christian life.
"There was still a lot of grief and resentment on the inside that I was not dealing with. Do you remember how you prayed with me in the education department because my ex-girlfriend was unfaithful toward me? Between that and my being away for so long, I guess we grew apart.
"We still tried to make it work for my daughter's sake but were unable to reconcile things the way they used to be. I got drinking again and got caught driving again. I've been here for four months now but haven't gone to court yet. It looks as though I may be going to another facility, but I'm trying for a rehab and a program called Drug Court."
Alcohol. That seems to be one of the mainstay pests. So those caught with that pest need to be remembered consistently in the intercessions of the sober. For, except for the grace of God, there go we!
"I've been quite depressed lately but I've been trying my best to put my thoughts toward the gospel. I read by Bible every day and have a Full Life Study Bible as well. Saturday and Sunday nights I also enjoy Bible study here in jail. Jesus is definitely the focus of my life lately and forever, Amen!
"My ex left me since I've been here. I'm apt to lose my house to her and be estranged to my children once again. And the promotion I got is definitely out. Grant, all the things I'm losing are the things most dear to me. I chose to drink and drink took my life. I pray every day for change in my life - to begin with finding a good Christian woman who is willing to love me. Seven years I've been with my ex but for about five years I've been extremely lonely. I tell myself that things will prosper eventually but it seems as though something is missing."
Lance writes well. He is quite an intelligent, mannerly young man. He is very sensitive and sociable, reaching out to those in need. When I counseled him in jail, I found the time passing quickly for he is an exceptionally well-versed conversationalist. Quite winsome.
"I wanted to write to you to let you know that you had an impact on my life and I never forgot that. I remember the hope you gave me through your prayers and chats. I'm only disappointed at myself for not keeping in touch with you upon my last release.
"I ask you if you can include me in your prayers for comfort and peace. In the meantime, I'll pray for you and your wife's happiness and good health. Take care. Sincerely, your friend, Lance."
J. Grant Swank, Jr.