Israel wore one pair of socks for 6 months. They were green and never stunk. He had time on his hand so he cleaned them ever chance he got. Every time he stepped out of his cell, murderers gazed and robbers railed but, he never fell.
As he read the Good Book, he acquired sympathy for the Children of Israel and their wilderness experience. Israel began to understand why they achieved zero velocity. Going nowhere fast; talking slick but really sick inside. One day during his 6 month stay he had an epiphany: a sort of a self discovery. Reflecting back, he thought: “God, had His hand my his life all the time.” Also realizing that he’ll make little progress, if any with a bitter disposition regardless of circumstance.
His cell mates cheered ecstatically when cops crashed as the evening news reported. This he wondered about in bewilderment and concluded that their cheers were disguised hostility. Israel discovered that you can be free while incarcerated and to be bitter inside, even if you have a reason is a tragic experience. He didn’t want to lose hope as the others.
Serving time for running from the cops, in contrast to the others who were looking at 35, 65 or 99 years. Pulled over after the cops noticed his car trunk ajar, he put the petal to the metal. Afraid they’ll find the open containers and paranoid he sped off. He was caught tazed and processed all with those same green socks.
His green socks never smelled and gained distinction as the one who wore them became known as short timer (an instant target). With much caution he tryed to understand the authorities who put him with jealous killers. He knew the authorities were not empathetic to a brown mother who raised him clean. Israel thought “I hope I can make it out of this alive.” He knew that his demise would irreparably tear his mother apart. So what did Israel do while in the fire of this affliction? He started a gospel choir and it was revealed that he was indeed an evangelist.
Those green socks soon became a symbol of inspiration inside the walls of the jail where hope seemed to fail. An itinerant evangelist was born there that stepped upon the burning coals of affliction, wearing green socks and flip flops striding where free men never crept under constant awareness of being killed the grace of God protected Israel where the price of human life was worth a honey bun.
His green socks never gave, even to his last day of this experience when he saw a peeking toe. That is how he knew it was time to go.
“For the Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing” (Deut. 2:7).
I confided with my mother who suggested that I go west for opportunity. She had a brother in Indiana that was willing to take me in until I got acclimated. I journeyed to Indiana and found a church on 38th Street that had the same principles that I had grown accustomed, but along with moving, those old demons came along too. I was a clean, ambitious, upstanding college grad with clear eyes, but that didn’t last for long, within the wide open space of the mid-west; I began to drink again.
After a while, drinking led to other unhealthy habits and all of my Christianity became useless. It was as if I was on East Fifth Street again representing my hood. I withdrew and became a person who frequented bars, played music on the jukebox and always had a quick smile, but I was being eaten from the inside by the righteousness that once enveloped my inner man. Deception became commonplace and my life became littered with failure after failure, and while straddling the fence, I married a woman who feigned pregnancy.
My failures were internal, and I felt compelled to harness every negative emotion while using my intellect to rationalize walking away from God. I failed myself because I sought to escape reality and my word was not my bond to myself. Being accomplished was downplayed, and I traded my birth-right for a nice stiff drink in a hoop-ride while I laid back. I worked in a supermarket and a sports bar until I continued to leap jobs and learned the mortgage business and got my first teaching gig, teaching kids with dyslexia how to read.
Nevertheless, my life became intertwined with despair, because I had fallen after having experienced His goodness, but continued to wallow in the misery of sin, being further separated from His grace. I would not surrender my will to God, even while attending church; afterwards on Sunday evenings, I went to the bar.
I needed the power of God again like I once experienced in the shut-ins and Fridays when we would be in church sometimes until after midnight, 6am prayer and the twenty one day fasts, and when the men still wore the black suit jackets on long hot Sundays in Church before our Pastor put in the air conditioning. I was hot and sweated, but I was saved, singing in the choir and attending the altar continually, and we never let a lady walk down the steps of the pulpit unescorted. I knew I forsook God, after seven years in the church learning about Jesus and being a prayer warrior inside and on the bricks. I wasn’t a sell-out, but I really was; sin I craved and the flesh I obeyed.
Soon after arriving in Indiana, a cycle of recidivism began occurring over a twelve year period of time, where I sat in front of over twenty Judges after being arrested. I entered and left jail and prison many times, usually for theft, robbery, domestic violence, drug possession and high speed police chases and my only fear was in the irreversibility of the harm I would potentially cause another, if someone stepped out of line. Inside I was known as ‘The Teacher from NJ’. I didn’t have jail house religion, and I needed to start practicing what I preached after I got out from being on vacation. Apparently, I did have Jail House Religion but God used that to add to my faith. I despised the label because I knew God was real and I was the one, who was really messed up. I just got tired of the endless struggle. I knew first hand that the life of a sinner was cold and harsh. I knew that the righteous are never forsaken and his seed never begs for bread, but when you leave His will, there is no question that you will be forsaken and you will beg for bread at the end. I no longer wanted to bring shame to Jesus’ Holy name. I chose to allow the prison recidivism rate to drop by one, and I allowed the drug cartels and the alcohol producers to become a little poorer by non-participation.