The Testimony of a Prisoner
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and is desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9) The truthfulness of this scripture has been verified in my life. For more than twenty years I lived a most shameful life to satisfy the desires of my wicked heart. I have learned that the more a person yields to the sinful desires of the heart, the more wicked he becomes.
Many times during my early schooldays I played truant; I often concluded that it was too hot to study and yielded to the tempter’s suggestion to go for a swim in the pond, regardless of consequences. After playing truant the first time, I found a repetition of the act much easier, until finally my parents became disgusted with me and sent me away to work, and I have worked ever since that time. While in the coal mines, I received many hard knocks and bumps, and my education was neglected. If I had not yielded to my willfulness and the deceitful desires of my heart in the beginning, I might have had a splendid education and today be the possessor of a responsible position.
On my fifteenth birthday I took my first drink, yielding to the temptation of taking my dinner pail and getting ten cents’ worth of beer to drink beneath a shady tree. Oh, that God would have taken me before it ever touched my lips! I am unable to relate all my experiences since I took my first drink, but would say that I have suffered beyond measure and have paid a great price for my folly. It has robbed me of my character, reputation, friends, a beloved wife, and four beautiful children—three boys and a girl—whom I loved more than my own life.
After drink had robbed me of all that was dear to my heart, then the suggestion came for still further destruction by committing suicide. The evil one suggested that as there was nothing left worth a continuation of my life, it were better to end it all and find sweet rest in the grave. I was cast into prison, and the way before me truly seemed dark.
While I was serving a prison sentence I learned there was help for me through the salvation of Jesus Christ. It was in the Bible that I learned that the Lord would create within me a new heart if I would only let Him in, and “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) I thought that I was too far gone to be forgiven, but the words found in Isaiah 1:18 gave me assurance: “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” These words were to me what a life-preserver is to a drowning person. I grasped them with a trembling heart and found peace to my soul.
Now, instead of destroying my own life by committing suicide and seeking rest in the grave, as Satan had often suggested, I found sweet rest to my soul in turning to Jesus, and the most earnest desire of my heart is to serve Him and do that which is pleasing in His sight. Now it is a pleasant pastime, a joy and pleasure, to read the Bible and religious books, tracts, and papers whereby I can learn more of the beauties of a life of salvation. May God help sinners everywhere to seek Him “while he may be found.” ()