This Inmate’s Road to Mercy
By Shane Latson
For as long as I can remember, long before I knew that Jesus paid the price (His Life) so that I could be forgiven of my countless crimes, I had no feeling whatsoever for anyone that I felt unworthy of mercy. I had been so hurt so much in my life that my criminal activities felt justified. I committed them without any remorse at all. At the time, I could not care less who I hurt in the process.
If things got really bad, and people got killed, I would numb any kind of guilty conscience with drugs. You see, I understand now that my guilty conscience was the result of seeds of LIGHT (Jesus) that were planted in me as a young child by my Christian mother and her family in Christ, Mama Jan and Gordon.
Yes, even before the enemy controlled my mind, God had a plan for my life! Sadly, I wouldn’t know this until many years later. In my polluted mind, I believed that my conscience was a sign of weakness. And to make up for that weakness, I would be one of the worst of the worst. I would go above and beyond what was wrong without a care in the world. And I definitely did all that I did without mercy just to hide the fact that somewhere deep inside me I knew that this was not who I was supposed to be.
At times I was so ashamed of myself and the way I treated people that truly loved me. My addiction to the criminal life could only be maintained by a heavy addiction to drugs. The drugs would keep my guilty conscious away, and without a guilty conscious I could continue to be merciless in my criminal activities.
When I was arrested, I demanded mercy from GOD if I was to believe that there really was a God. I thought that I knew God because I had a mother and a grandmother that prayed for me every day of my life. I took this blessing for granted. I knew nothing about a personal relationship with the ONE and ONLY Savior, Jesus Christ. I thought that I had life figured out. I thought that I could stop using drugs whenever I willed myself to do it.
The truth is, I could not. Deep down inside, I felt helpless because I knew that my life was out of control.
I’ve been in and out of jails and prisons many times. Each time, my mother stood by my side with GOD’S WORD always coming out of her mouth. In the countless letters she sent me, she spoke the Word to me. But every time I was released from incarceration, I thought I knew a better way to do wrong. The Devil knew this too, so he would allow me to be successful at the sinful things that I partook in. Things would be just good enough to keep me deceived into thinking that I could make it in this criminal lifestyle that I had chosen.
Boy! Was I wrong! Everything in my life has been taken away from me because of my many sins. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, and when I was sentenced to fifteen years mandatory at age thirty seven, in my mind I was dead. I knew enough about prison from my two pervious stints that there was no guarantee I would survive fifteen years in Florida’s state prison system.
I was sent to a prison that was straight gang land. Men were killing one another over everything from drugs to homosexual relationships. Officers were killing inmates too. Of course, I was using drugs because that is what I was used to doing to ease the pain of my predicament caused by my own sins.
I didn’t like myself at all. That was the lowest point of my life. I had to decide if I was going to fight for a better life or if I was going to go all-out for the devil inside his system. The gangs wanted to recruit me, and I found myself in more than one life or death situation because I refused to allow the gangs to control my life. I was already a slave to my sin and addiction.
Then God sent me a minister named Gary. He knew my mother and me from when I was in prison before. He asked me if I wanted to earn a degree in religious studies from a Christian university where he was a proctor. He said that the church would pay the costs. In my mind, I believed that I could never graduate from college. I had already failed at that before. Besides, I was in prison where no one gets a college degree.
But Gary knew something that I didn’t know at the time. He knew that I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He knew that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. He knew that in Christ, all things have passed away and become new. He had a heart of mercy for me, a criminal. He knew that whatever I had done in my life, God could forgive me. He didn’t see the drug dealer, the murderer, the robber, or the addict in me. He saw the price that his savior paid to give a criminal like me the opportunity believe in Christ and be forgiven of all my sins.
I cried out to Jesus and he delivered me.
I’ve been sober for seven years now. All gory to God. I put my trust in GOD and HE has been faithful to me. I realize now that God is full of mercy and wants to forgive us of all our sins. Even when I was lost in sin, God had mercy on me. You see, my sins put our savior up on that cross. He willingly gave his life for me on my worst day, and man, I sure have had some very bad days. The enemy has never given me anything that didn’t result in heartache and pain.
Today, God has given me a new heart. He has given me a heart of mercy and forgiveness. The main thing that has happened to me since the Lord gave me a new life is that I now have mercy on others because I myself was shown mercy. I forgive others because I have been forgiven MUCH!
Mercy is the evidence of being forgiven because God is a merciful God who gave his life for us while we were on our worst day so that one day we would have the opportunity to believe in Him.