when i was in high school, i had a friend named Austin. he would do things like carry me from k-mart to starbucks when my feet hurt and drive me home from school any chance he got. he was big and bulky and sweet and gentle and so eager to love people. one time we did a scene together for the Nevada State Thespian conference. we won some kind of award for our performance in "the creepy rapist scene that austin sucked at because he refused to violently throw me into a chair," seriously. he was terrible at being mean, even when he was acting.
once, austin was driving me home from school when he pulled over behind my house. we were facing the sunset, and for the first time in my life, i thought about who God was, partly because austin refused to take me home until i watched the sun set and talked about Jesus. this was the first appearance of the teeny-tiny mustard seed that would eventually grow up to be my enormous faith in Jesus Christ. that night, we talked about who i thought God was, and who God actually was. we talked about why someone would want to have a relationship with God. we talked about how much God loved people, and for the first time, i believed it. i had seen it in austin.
a few years later, omar and i were planning our wedding. we were short one groomsman. fortunately, austin, in all of his shy and timid glory, volunteered to complete our wedding party. actually, austin told omar that since they had been friends since elementary school, (which they had), he had a right to be in the wedding and didnt care what we had to say about it.
he was fitted for his tux the next day.
among other parts of his character, austin loves the lord. austin is the boldest spokesperson for Gods Love that i have ever encountered. he believes fully in Gods mercy and restoration, and abides in that. he also enjoys hitting on omars mom, and telling omar that to call him "dad." =
for the last month, austin has been in prison. he made a mistake that will cost him the next three years of his life. his family and friends are devastated. the truth is, austin is going to turn the prison upside down. here are some excerpts from a letter he sent us:
"I miss you so very much. Things are as joyful as they can be in The Big House. As much as I wish I could be with you guys, I know that my purpose is more valuable here. I have been blessed so abundantly that people around me are shocked of my joy."
"I thought to myself that there was something that I wasnt doing right or some sin holding me back. But it wasnt until prison that God touched my heart into seeing that there is nothing that I can do to receive His holy spirit, His spiritual gifts are free and He gives them freely."
"So all this happened in jail. I have been in the fruits of the spirit and since then God has been using me. I just wrote this letter to share my joy with you. Never think that God doesnt have more to show you- the rabbit hole always goes deeper. I miss you and I love you. Pray for my ministry here. Only 27 months left.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.