Bubba is out of prison now and facing what all former inmates have to face: trying to live upright civic lives while starting out with no money in their pockets, being clueless about how society has changed in the decade since they were locked up, pressing obligations to find housing and apply for various IDs, urgency in landing a job, and somehow getting themselves to regular meetings with probation officers who examine them under a magnifying glass. That is to say, ex-cons are expected to do as well as regular citizens do, but with one hand tied behind their backs.
So Bubba contacted me the other day: “The lady at the counseling center said I won’t get a job because my past is too bad, but God told me different.”
I suspect that the average person in Bubba’s shoes—being told by a lady in a position of authority with a lot of experience and know-how concerning ex-con employment statistics that his chances of succeeding are small to nil—would be deflated. The average person would tend to put a lot of weight on the lady’s opinion. But Bubba puts weight only on God’s opinion, and he distinctly heard God say in His Spirit that he will do OK. How did he hear that, I wanted to know? In his Word, of course, Bubba replied to my daft question:
“… [God] is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us …” (Ephesians 3:20, ESV).
There may be some vague or debatable passages in the Bible, but that isn’t one of them. Either you choose to believe that God is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,” or you choose not to. Bubba always chooses to believe plain speech in the Bible—being a plainspoken man himself. Bubba is not complicated and does not find the Bible particularly complicated. He always “errs” on the side of taking God’s Word at face value. This, it seems to me, is the entire essence of the Christian life:
“Who has believed what he has heard from us? …” (Isaiah 53:1, ESV).
We are all called to the same. The challenge is to keep believing the plain Word as the events of our lives unfold, no matter what happens, no matter how perplexing things seem, no matter how the air “thickens” in this temporary world of seeing through a glass darkly.