X Series: Baptised by Prison and Jesus
The X Series blogs are written by an inmate in the Texas prison system, with the nickname X, who is in the process of being totally transformed. They are unedited takes on various aspects of life and offer opportunities for us to to be inspired by the choices we can make to grow personally, professionally and spiritually.
I didn't punch my ticket into the Texas penitentiary till the age of 16 with a 5-year sentence. I'm not insinuating that I wasn't getting into any criminal mischief, because I definitely was. It’s just I had gotten away with it so much till I no longer could, and off to prison I went. You hear a lot of things about prison life and most of our views are from prisons depicted in movies, or at least mine was. Cats would tell you stories that had been to prison only to add to your views. But there would be some cats that would essentially say, “Ah it's not that bad.” I don't know if that was meant to help, but I thought to myself, That just doesn't sound right at all and got me to further think the worst.
After going through the initial butt naked strip search, the buzz cut so everyone looks like Mr. Clean, and the intimidation factor from the guards, I guess you can say it's not too bad. Of course back then, at the initial start of doing time, you best believe I didn't say that all. Prison sucked 110%! Having to go to work in groups of 20-25 inmates, carrying garden hoes over your shoulder, while speed walking 2-3 miles to the work site SUCKED. I'm already tired and now you are telling me the day is just getting started? We are lined up chomping down tall grass like human lawnmowers while the sun gaps your strength. “Water break,” the officer calls out. Oh, an all right time for a cold drink, I think, but instead, a metal tanker pulls up on wheels being towered by a tractor and the water tastes like it had extra chlorine in it to kill the Ebola that had been in there. Adjusting to this new way of life took some comforting and desensitizing.
After about 2 months, I was shipped to another unit where I would be doing a big chunk of my time. When I got to this unit, I began hanging with a particular crowd. We all got along good, everyone was cool, we all seemed to have each other's back, and that's how subtle it was. I became part of a clique. With that, I was now identified as one of the clique’s crew. As I was moved to another unit I found my clique again, and I went through the initiation process of getting “cliqued in.” This identified me with the group. Of course, I wanted to be identified with them, because they are cool and it makes you cool, but also more respected. So you had some that would go even further than the initiation process by getting a tattoo that broadcasts this new identity to anyone wherever you went. This is no different than hanging out at high school and a buddy offers you your first puff of a cigarette. You wanted to be identified with your cool buddy and the cool crowd so you take that puff. And that now identifies you as cool.
The Bible also speaks of being identified with Christ. With this comes a new identity; a cool identity. When you realize the seriousness of your sin whether it be the gum you stole or the fight you got into, the Holy Spirit convicts you of this powerfully, and you soon come to a place of submission. You realize that you are just like Peter who denied his best friend Jesus Christ. We deny Him by the way we live according to what scripture says in Titus 1:16. One thing about the Bible is it is not gonna lie to you. You can bank on what it says. You've decided to turn from the way you've been living which has been for your glory or to put it in another way, for your own coolness. You have come to a point of repentance and submission to Him. You want Jesus as not just your savior but as the Lord of your life. That means He is the master of your life, and He's gonna be our Lord. So according to Romans 10:9-10, we can be saved, and we can be his children; Romans 8:15-17, we can have a new identity; and Colossians 2:11-12.
I believe that some of us can have a ho-hum outlook on this baptism thing like “ah it's no big deal I confessed my sins to him and ask him to come into my life, but I'll get to the baptized thing later.” Or the most popular line I hear in here is, “I’ll get baptized when I get out.” I think baptism symbolizes being washed clean of my sins by dying with Christ, symbolized by being submerged in water, and then raised to a new life. The more important part of being saved is the reality of it and not the symbol of it. I say that because that thought that had run through my mind at one time, yes, but it was also the perfect excuse too. It's back to wanting to be identified with the cool clique or puffing on the cigarette because we want to be identified as cool. We want to be identified as “COOL”. Yes, baptism is symbolization, but also, we are baptized because we want to be identified with Christ. We want all to know that we are the same exact way when we wanted to be identified as cool. The way I see it, we ought to want to be baptized every day in front of the whole world. Let's not be ashamed of being identified with Christ like it’s not cool. I’ll tell you this, it’s a lot cooler being identified with Christ than with satan, Literally! Mark 8:38.