Joseph Herrin (08-07-2011)
The Pause that Perfects
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Houston County Jail Pod
Houston County Jail Cell
(My Home for 134 Days)
Twice I have been sent to jail. The first occasion was for 60 days. The second for 74 days. Both times I was held at the Houston County Jail in Perry, Georgia. (This is pronounced Howston County - It is Georgia, not Texas.)
The photos above show the jail when it was newly opened about 8 years ago. Much of the shine has gone off of it now, although as jails go, it is a nice facility. The pod I was in looks identical to the photo above. It had forty cells, with bunks for two men in each cell. I was in a top bunk. The pod normally held closer to 90 men. Some slept in what they call “boats.” These are plastic shells that sit on the floor and hold a mattress. They only use the boats on the lower level. Since I was upstairs I had only one other cell mate.
For approximately 20 hours a day we were confined to our cells. We came out for break times and meals. All the inmates on the pod ate at the same time, but the breaks were staggered between the upstairs and downstairs. We had one break in the morning for an hour. Another after lunch for an hour, and a slightly longer break in the evenings when the men were permitted to use the showers.
The roommate I had for the entire time on this most recent stay was a young black man who had very little spiritual interest. He slept much of the day. I was able only on rare occasions to engage him in some spiritual discussion. I received a paperback KJV Bible when I arrived. It was small print, and I did not bring my reading glasses. I held it close to my nose and read through most of it while I was there. The pages were thoroughly marked up with underlining, asterisks and notes when I left.
Twenty hours a day in a cell can be wearying. I often stood at the window and looked out on the center of the pod, which was empty most of the time. It was my window on the world. As I mentioned in the previous post, the most vexing thing was to observe the daily rebellion of the men, and listen to a near constant din of profanities and obscenities. Many of the men would loudly proclaim the lyrics of whatever obscene rap song came into their mind. I have spent my life memorizing Scripture verses. Satan has been busy leading others to tattoo their bodies and minds with imprinted impurities.
My heavenly Father acknowledged that He was aware that my experience there would include many weary days. After I had been there about a month, a sister in Christ from England sent me a letter that included the following poem.
God Meant It Unto Good (Gen. 50:20)
"God meant it unto good"- O blest assurance,
Falling like sunshine all across life's way,
Touching with Heaven's gold earth's darkest storm clouds,
Bringing fresh peace and comfort day by day.
'Twas not by chance the hands of faithless brethren
Sold Joseph captive to a foreign land;
Nor was it chance which, after years of suffering,
Brought him before the monarch's throne to stand.
An Eye all-seeing saw the need of thousands,
And planned to meet it through that one lone soul;
And through the weary days of prison bondage
Was working towards the great and glorious goal.
As yet the end was hidden from the captive,
The iron entered even to his soul;
His eye could scan the present path of sorrow,
Not yet his gaze might rest upon the whole.
Faith failed not through those long, dark days of waiting,
His trust in God was recompensed at last,
The moment came when God led forth his servant
To succor many, all his sufferings past.
“It was not you but God, that sent me hither,”
Witnessed triumphant faith in after days;
"God meant it unto good," no second causes
Mingled their discord with his song of praise.
"God means it unto good" for thee, beloved,
The God of Joseph is the same today;
His love permits afflictions strange and bitter,
His hand is guiding through the unknown way.
Thy Lord, who sees the end from the beginning,
Hath purposes for thee of love untold.
Then place thy hand in His and follow fearless,
Till thou the riches of His grace behold.
Then, when thou standest in the Home of Glory,
And all life's path lies open to thy gaze,
Thine eyes shall see the Hand which now thou trustest,
And magnify His love through endless days.
--Freda Hanbury Allen
Throughout this time of testing, weary as it was at times, I never found any fault, or complaint with God. My spirit has rested contentedly in the knowledge that He chooses all of the experiences of His sons very carefully. All are intended for our PERFECTING as sons.
For thus says Yahweh, “After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Yahweh has often sent His people to Babylonian places, filled with the noise and commerce of sin and confusion. Yet, He does not leave them there. I recognize that were it not for the grace of God restraining, disciplining, and directing my life all of these years, I would be as wicked and vile as the most beastly man in jail. As the apostle Paul testified, “In my flesh dwells no good thing.” “Sin dwells in my flesh.”
My Father has been gracious in patiently leading me to a mortification of the flesh over the course of many years. He has treated me as a son, scourging me, for He loves me and desires that I share His holiness. It is His earnest desire that those whom He has called will not suffer loss on that day when they stand before Him, so He disciplines us now, and leads us through many afflictions that we might be perfected through suffering.
The Father gave me a remarkable testimony of His commitment to “present every man perfect in Christ” while I was in jail. On May 24th, the day I went to court, the judge mentioned no fewer than three times that he was of a mind to send me to the jail for 30 days. I made a calendar while in jail and noted that my 30th day would fall on June 22nd (6/22). These numbers were significant to me for a number of reasons. The Father has shown me that 6 represents the flesh man, and 22 signifies flesh cutting. Also, six years previously the Father had given me a prophetic word off the Internet indicating some things He would perform in the life of my family. I printed that word off and carry it in my Bible. The date is on the bottom of the page (6/22/2005).
I had an anticipation that I would certainly hear something from the Father on that date. My hope was that I would be released from the jail, for my first 30 days there were particularly trying, and I experienced numerous attacks from the adversary early on. I was a bit downcast the day before (which was 6/21) when my daughter made her weekly visit to see me. Kristin asked the guard if he could tell her when my release date was. He looked in the computer and said there was no release date entered.
In the back of my mind had been residing a nagging thought that there was an area of obedience to the Father that was lacking in my life. He had told me some years previously that I needed to get down to 165 lbs. and remain under that weight. I had gotten down to that weight about two years previously, but I had since put some weight back on. The thought lay heavily (pun intended) upon my mind that the fulfillment of some of God’s promises were contingent upon my obedience in this area.
On 6/22/2011 I was called by the guard and told that I needed to report to Medical for the screening every inmate is supposed to receive during their first 30 days. Upon arriving there, the first thing the nurse did was ask me to stand on the scales so she could weigh me. She recorded my weight at 186 lbs.. I knew immediately that the Father had ordered my steps with great precision that day. I knew I would not be released until I lost the weight.
I had already made up a list to go to Store Call that day, and I had planned on purchasing numerous snacks. How quickly God is able to motivate us to obedience and make changes to OUR plans! I had prayed some weeks before, asking the Father to help me to get down to 165 lbs.. I could think of no better way for Him to assist me than to let me know that my release from jail was predicated upon my obedience in this matter.
From that day I began giving most of my meals away. I began to exercise daily, doing stomach crunches on my bunk, and walking around during our break times. I was able to observe that I was making progress after a short time. God’s grace was such that I was not bothered by headaches, or hunger pangs. My battle was mental. In my boredom I would often think of eating, but I would reason as follows: “That meal, though it would taste good, will last but a moment. Then you will regret the rest of the day that you forfeited the progress you could make today in losing weight.” With such a thought I found it easy on many days to walk downstairs, get my food tray, then walk over to some fellow inmate and hand it to him. Without breaking pace I would return to my cell and know an inner satisfaction that comes from ruling over the flesh and walking in obedience to God.
Sixty days went by from the date I first arrived. I felt that I must be getting closer to the weight goal God had given to me, but I had no scales to weigh myself on. The Father began speaking to me much around that time of those things He would have me to do upon my release. I knew the end of my time in jail was near then, for the Father had spoken to me similarly the first time I was jailed, and He fulfilled everything He spoke to me while in jail. (I will share these upcoming things in a future post.) One day the Father gave me a powerful affirmation to that which He was speaking regarding the ministry in these days ahead. He spoke through a National Geographic magazine I was reading. A picture and caption on page 818 was used by the Father to speak much.
I pondered whether the page number itself was some type of testimony. I wondered if it could be referring to August 18, but I had no clear word from the Father on this. Like Mary, I pondered these things in my heart, waiting until the Father should bring greater clarity. I resolved, however, that even if I had to wait until August 18th to be released, I would do so patiently, spending my days in contentment before the Father.
It was a great surprise to me when on the morning of August 5th (a Friday), the guard for our pod opened my door and said, “Mr. Herrin, you can pack your things and leave.” I was not expecting to hear such words for another couple weeks. It left me somewhat stunned. In my mind I was saying, “Lord, what does this mean? Today is my 74th day in jail, and I don’t know any significance to the number 74. Why today Lord?”
The jail staff processed me out quickly. I then called Randy Simmons to come pick me up. My daughter was in Pennsylvania for the week, so she was unavailable. I spent the afternoon with Randy, and a woman named Veronica who has been ministering to the homeless on the streets of Macon. Randy had met her, as he has been doing street ministry in Macon for some time.
The next morning I awoke with the question still on my mind? Why 74 days Lord? As I lay there the answer came. The first 30 days were what the earthly judge had determined for me. The Spirit of Christ directed me to subtract the 30 days from the 74 days. I suddenly realized that 44 days were added by my heavenly Judge for me to lose weight. The number 44 is 22 + 22, indicating a double portion of flesh cutting. It had taken me 44 days to lose the weight Yahweh required of me.
Back in 1999 the Father spoke to me about a ministry He was preparing me for. As I looked over a large field of grass at a sod farm, I observed a man mowing the grass with a tractor. I had only a few months before surrendered to follow Christ wherever He would lead, and already I was walking through much affliction. I had encountered much strife from brothers and sisters in Christ. I longed for some peace in my life, and wistfully said, “Lord, if only I could have a job like that man mowing grass. I could then be content, for there would be peace and quietness, and I could spend my days in fellowship with you.” The Spirit spoke back very clearly, “I have indeed called you to be a cutter of grass, for all flesh is as grass. Yet, in order for me to use you to remove the flesh from others lives, you must first permit me to remove the flesh from your life.”
I wrote those words down, for I had gone to that very spot to hear the Father speak to me. I had a notepad and pen in my lap. The Father’s words were bittersweet, for I longed to be used of Him, but I dreaded the flesh cutting I would have to endure.
Twelve years have now passed from that day. At the peak of my fleshliness I weighed 285 lbs. on a 5'-9" frame. Now I weigh a much healthier 165, and I am aiming for 155. God has not only removed the flesh from my physical body, but He has been working to transform a carnal man into a spiritual creation.
Yahweh chooses our trials with great deliberateness. He sees both the visible and the hidden faults in the lives of His children. He will lead each of us down paths designed to fulfill the words spoken by John the Baptist:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
As I look back upon the past twelve years, I am grateful that the Father has not spared me these necessary afflictions. Paul, in writing about the Father disciplining His sons, declares that God’s discipline produces, “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). If there is one word that sums up the state of my soul today, it is the word “Peace.”
"Come, let us return to Yahweh. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know Yahweh. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth."
I feel like I have walked a long journey in wilderness places, but now the promise of rain is before me. These will be rains of refreshing. How precious is the rain to those who have known a dry and weary land in which there is no water? I praise God for the dry places, for now the season of fruitfulness will be all the more pleasant.
(More to come.)
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