Prison Passover Update 2018

Written by Jim Staley
Prison Passover Update 2018

This year has been the best Passover here yet. Virtually everyone who started with me over the last 2 and a half years had a difficult time giving up their old ways and the cream has risen to the top. It was just four of us this year. We did not invite anyone this year that wasn't already designated as Messianic on official record with the chaplain or a part of our group. And this made it very special. All year the four of us have been looking forward to this moment. They had never celebrated it before and I had been teaching on it for months, so they were eager to experience it.

The Seder plate that they give us is plastic and had all the elements of the Seder, albeit not quite like home...lol. There was a boiled egg that had exploded within the shell, chopped up parsley that looked like baby food, a lamb shank bone smaller than the size of my pinky finger wrapped in cellophane, some sort of potato thingy, a horseradish root, and a plastic container of salt water. But, on the bright side, the matzah they gave us for the Seder was very cool. It was large and round and hand baked. Oh yeah, and we had tons of grape juice boxes just like back in junior high school!

So, I handed out the "Welcome to Passover 2014" packets that I had sent in from my powerpoint and went through the Seder. Juan was taking notes the whole time and the other two guys almost had to be separated for joking around and aggravating each other the whole time. I seriously felt like a kindergarten teacher!...except for Juan. He is like my Timothy...as serious as can be and desires to learn all he can so he can teach his kids when he gets home. As we came to the meal, we all pulled out the 5-star TV dinners that the BOP provides us all this week and we feasted. I had salmon and it actually was pretty good...although I will admit I may have forgotten what real food tastes like.

All in all, it was a great time and they were very impacted by the symbolism. Every day through the feast we eat together, each bringing our TV dinner of choice out to the microwaves and enjoying one another's company. At our regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, I showed them the documentary Patterns of Evidence, which is all about the documented evidence of the Exodus and the early Israelites. They enjoyed it. We will be finishing off the feast today and after dark, we will break the feast with a giant hand-made pizza.

If there is one thing that is incredibly apparent at this point in my life and journey through the "valley of the shadow of death" is that the tide in the spiritual realm is definitely turning. Where once I only experienced darkness, sorrow and destruction of everything I once knew and loved, I am now seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The Spirit is moving in incredible ways and everything is pointing to an early release. I can feel it. My spirit is at total rest as He begins to reveal what He has been up to this entire time and why all this had to happen. Just like the story of the Passover begins with the death of the firstborn and ends in a new identity, a new relationship, new revelation and a new land, so I'm watching my life follow the same pattern. In order to receive the ultimate land that He has called me to, my firstborn (PFT) had to die. This has, in turn, created a new relationship, a new identity, new revelation and the destination of this desert journey is starting to come over the horizon...and I'm just blown away.

So although our Seder was not filled with all the usual PFT beauty, table settings and incredible food, it was intimate, raw, and real. I've never been more grateful to my King for what He has done for me and my family. Where at first I could not believe or understand why He would allow me to be taken by Pharaoh when I had spent my life trying to defeat him, it has now become clear that He just wanted to show more of His glory. And now I understand that His glory can only be shown in the proportion to the darkness. The Light only rises to the same level as the darkness. The darker the night is the brighter the stars and the more glory is shown. He wanted to show me more of His glory and that can only happen when evil and darkness abound. The death of the firstborn sparked the greatest revelation of the power of God in history and a revolution of freedom, wealth, and inheritance for every single Israelite that day. And I'm watching it happen in my life right now. The sun is rising and I can feel it on my face. The warmth of His embrace is almost tangible.


Friends, let us not be afraid of death. It's the very thing that brings new life. Let us not be weary in the desert. It's where we come face to face with our Creator. The desert is the place where we can't meet our needs and He is forced to reveal His mighty right hand of provision. The desert is where miracles happen and new identities are forged if we let Him. Let us not be the generation that complains in the desert, but the generation that sees the desert as the very training grounds that lead to the Promised Land that He has destined for each of us. There is no other way to our destiny than through the desert and I have learned that there is no other way to reach mine than through where I'm at now. I've seen the death of the firstborn and it scared me to death. I've had Pharaoh breathing down my neck and cursing at me in the middle of the night. I've been the least of the Israelites in the back row cowering behind a shrub at the thundering voice of God and the ensuing darkness all around. But I've also seen the water come out of the rock, manna come from heaven, and the fire of the Almighty consume my enemies in a moment. Yahweh lives in the desert and I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. This fire has forged my character, strengthened my resolve, purified my soul and has consumed my enemies. Thank God I went to prison. It saved my life. Why are we scared of the dark again?

Shalom!
Jim
April 6, 2018