"Letters from Inside" is a blog series featuring incarcerated women at Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee, where Prison Fellowship® runs one of its Prison Fellowship Academy® sites. Hear from women who are not only serving time for crimes but are now trying to live their lives for Jesus behind bars.
For more "Letters from Inside," click here.
SAVED BY GRACE, A GIFT WITHOUT STRINGS
By Stacy of Shakopee
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
So many of us here [in prison] have forgotten, taken for granted, or dismissed that it is only by God's grace that we are even here. It's only when we look into the Face of Grace that we become aware of God's presence in our lives.
If we really want to change, we must become aware of the [blessings] God sends us. When our loved ones reach out to us in after we have mistreated them, it is not because we are such good people. It is by God’s grace.
When many of us have been at the point of death because of our pasts yet we live, it is by God's grace.
When our minds are at peace in the midst of the storm, and we are able to sleep without nightmares haunting us because of our pasts, it's by God's grace.
And finally, when we have constant joy in our hearts that we have never had before, it is by God's grace.
SAVED BY GRACE
God's grace has changed me and made me into a totally different person. I know that I must work to restore the broken relationships with my children, build a solid foundation with my grandchildren, and heal the rift that has been created between me and my loved ones because of my alcohol addiction and life of deceit. I know, too, that none of this will be possible without the God's grace.
I am blessed to be a living example of God's grace right here in prison. When I see a woman headed down the same path that I have traveled, I do whatever I can to help change her mindset. Christ gives me the right words and the proper approach to possibly change a life for the better.
Oh, how I wish I could say that this approach is always successful, but the simple truth is that the core beliefs of many women within these walls remain based on the standards of the world. It is going to take a life-altering event for them to recognize that it is only by God's grace that they are able to have hope for tomorrow.
GET OUT OF GOD'S WAY
The biggest change that has taken place in my life is that I have learned to get out of God's way when His grace is working in my life. You cannot receive God's grace and refuse to disperse it. We get in God's way when we are prompted to reach out to someone who is in need or suffering, and we don't do it. We get in God's way when we are selfish and self-serving—when trusting God comes into conflict with human reasoning. We get in God's way when we allow our feelings to overcome our faith. These are real issues that we face every day in here; they are the same issues that we will face when we return home to our families. But God's grace is a life-changing experience—an experience you cannot afford to miss.
GRACE IS A GIFT WITHOUT STRINGS
Dear child of God, your Heavenly Father will never lead you anywhere that His Grace will not sustain you. He will never place more upon you than He will give you grace to bear. When the path before you seems hopelessly long, take heart. Lift up your eyes. Look ahead to that day when all suffering will be over. And remember that when you stand before Him, all the tears and sorrows of a lifetime will seem dim in comparison with the beauty and glory of His face.
Without a doubt, you will say, "His amazing grace has brought me safely home."