I counsel…or used to. People in jail… ‘hard liners’.. the ‘one per-centers’, those with a ‘f*** you attitude…. and walls. And so sitting in a holding cell talking someone into an AA meeting so they could get out on probation they would reply that the idea of AA really sucked…. “you know…. I can deal with all the talky shit and the I’m an alcoholic shit but what I can’t deal with is all that fuckin’ God shit”. No fuckin’ God. If he were real this crap wouldn’t exist so fuck off with your AA.” And I knew that Mike or Fred or Andy would die if they did not find a way …so my reply was keyed on what they could identify with…. “Mike…if you have a hard time believing in Jesus….maybe you could identify with His police record”. ….with the 100% reply of “Huh? Whutthefuck you talkin’ about? Jesus’ police record! Don’t mess with my head.” My reply was serious and truthful… “No I am not messing with you. Jesus and his buddies had police records. Look. The Roman empire was like….oh…the United States or France, but without wi-fi and internet. Very well and very highly organized country, a huge empire that existed for like 1500 years. They kept records of everything. If you want to know how much Marcus Orelius gathered in taxes or the wheat acreage…those records still exist. Now…the roman emperor was considered a god, so when Jesus came along and started raising the dead…did not go well with the emperors. They sent out their police…the Roman cohorts to investigate. Now…if you were a cohort and were disloyal the penalty was death. If you suggested there was another god besides the emperor…that was disloyalty and death. However, if you LIED to the emperor, that was disloyalty …and death. So you go out to investigate the Christians and come back and report miracles that the emperor knows he cannot do…. thats a real ‘oh shit’. Its on record. A lot of cohorts died. A lot of Christians died…you know …raising the dead. So there are real accurate police records …all about Jesus and His followers too. He had a police record and was on the ‘most wanted’ list. All those records still exist and are very authentic. Eventually the Roman emperors had to stop ignoring these reports and killing cohorts and Christians and face the truth. Eventually Constantine became the first Christian Roman emperor. You want to see the police record of Jesus…its real and its in museums in Italy and the Vatican and other places like that”. And then Mike’s face (or whoever I was talking to) would light up a little and he’d say, “no shit man! Jesus was a con on the lam! That’s so fuckin’ cool! Ok. I’ll go to the meeting. But just this once. If I don’t like it I ain’t goin’ back!”
Usually…they stayed. An AA meeting and a time of meditation with ‘a con who could love them unconditionally’ won over when pitched against those not so cool orange jump suits and paper slippers from prison. I chose ‘Mike’ because he, like Jesus, is very real. I chose Mike from my memories because Mike got his year of sobriety, and his wife found out. His ex boss found out. His boss agreed to take him back, and ten percent of his wages would go towards paying back the stuff Mike stole. His wife found out Mike was sober and working and I had the joy of seeing Mike sit down with his children, in front of his wife, and apologize to his children and promise to support them as he should have done. He did that without question for a long while before trust came back, showing up clean every week with support payments as he promised he would. Eventually, his wife asked him if he would like to stay for supper and he did. There is a God. He is real, and He can and will fix anything in His world according to His idea of what is broken and what needs Him to fix. Many years before I met Mike, I stood on a beach late at night weeping because I was loosing my job, my home, my family, everything, and I was completely and absolutely bankrupt, morally, spiritually, emotionally, absolutely devoid of any personal resources whatsoever and was considering suicide as the next and only option. So in desperation I said to Him, ‘I believe You are real. I am lost and what I am doing is not working. So please come into my life and You show me who You are, and what You want for me, absolutely no strings attached. You do it on Your terms, but remember, I am stupid and stubborn and You have to work around that, and I trust You will because You are God.” ……….and He did. God always has a capitol. If He does not in your life, that is because you have removed it, not Him. And for the atheists… imagine you have a neighbor you don’t like and you tell the neighbor you do not believe in him and to go away and not say ‘good morning’ and just not bother you anymore…. well, the neighbor would go away and not deal with you anymore. So, in a sense, the atheists are correct because like the neighbor, God is polite and leaves them alone and does go away…except He does that perfectly, so, in the life of an atheist….there truly is no God…until they relent and invite Him in…… On that beach all those years ago…. I was just so…empty and bankrupt and alone and still weeping, I said to Him afterwards…”you know God…right now I do not need a winning lottery ticket or any material thing. I am so broken. I have no one or nothing. Right now what I need most is a hug. I left the beach, and went to my still cold and still empty apartment and fell asleep. I cannot describe what happened over the next three days. I got my ‘hug’, and I know it was from God, and that is all I can tell you because I have no words for the feelings or the ensuing joy. It just ‘was’, and if you want yours, you have to ask, and it will be according to your relationship with Him, not mine. :-) I’ve read the last chapter, and no matter how bad the six o’clock news gets, God has a plan and we win.