What would you do if you knew you’d spend many years in prison, and possibly the rest of your life?
I sat in this dark and lonely jail cell with the words that my attorney had spoken to me playing over and over through my mind. “Ben, your chances of beating these charges at trial are slim to none, and I don’t know what else to say to you but to prepare yourself to spend the rest of your life in prison.”
I was close to the edge and basically at the end of my rope because I began to have suicidal thoughts. I started planning the best way to take my own life. My irrational reasoning went like this: I’m never going to be free again and I’m never again going to see most of the people I know. All I have to look forward to is wasting the rest of my life in a prison cell. Why not just end all of the pain and suffering now?
Throughout my young life, I had prayed many times, but what I didn’t understand at those times was that all my prayers were of greed. God, if You’re really there, then I need You to prove it and get me out of this mess, or, If You fix this or give me that, then I’ll go to church.
Fortunately, I have a loving mother and aunt who serve the Lord Jesus Christ. They have both told me so many times to “let go and let God.” But I never understood what that meant. Now I know that it means to stop trying to handle things my own way because my own way obviously doesn’t work. It means to give all of my questions, problems, and everything else to God in prayer and trust in Him to lead me through whatever obstacle I am facing in life.
My aunt ordered me a subscription to Signs of the Times® magazine and sent me the books Broken Chains and The Desire of Ages,* which helped me to learn about Jesus and His Word. I began to build a personal relationship with the Lord. Now I realize why those greedy prayers of mine weren’t answered how and when I thought they should be—I didn’t know or believe in the gracious God I was praying to.
One night not too long ago I was on my knees for hours, talking to God and confessing my sins and all of the bad things I have done. I just couldn’t stop the tears or words from flowing. But it wasn’t like any of the other times I have cried because this time I felt a sense of peace and comfort. The Lord touched my life and opened up my heart, and things just haven’t been the same since that night.
Even though I am still in the same jail cell, it is no longer dark and lonely. Now it is bright with the light and love of Jesus. And even though I still have to face the courts for the crimes I am charged with, and I may physically spend the rest of my life on this earth in prison, I am happy and at peace because I know that Jesus willingly hung on that cross and died so that my sins may be forgiven.
God has poured out His loving grace over my life in so many ways. I am no longer nervous or scared when each court date comes and goes because I know that every aspect of my life is in God’s hands. I am still just a baby in Christ, but I am 100 percent sure that I am saved. I am learning how important it is to devote a special time every day to praise the Lord and to read His Word.
Now that I think back on the times I thought of giving up and taking my own life, I am thankful that Jesus was standing at the end of my rope, offering me peace and purpose now and eternal life later.
I believe my calling is to share my experiences—both good and bad—with those who are lost like I was. I dedicate my life to serving the Lord Jesus Christ and helping others become acquainted with the Lord who offers them peace and forgiveness.
Ben Tremper writes from Vacaville, California.