Feb. 24, 2012

Romans 10:17 & Ephesians 2: 8-9

by Randy Whiting (author's profile)


Romans 10:17 & Ephesians 2:8-9

On September 9, 2001, I had cause to reflect on my life because my "Christianity" had just been profoundly challenged. Previous attacks, had upset me but never rattled me like this one had.

I had always believed that my relationship with God was my business and it was personal. I didn't owe anyone any explanation and if they didn't like it that was too bad. I had experienced a lot in my life. I was baptized Catholic and raised Presbyterian. Then I was converted by Southern Baptists while I was serving in Germany as part of the U.S. Army in 1980. I believed that I was as much as a Christian as anyone else who claimed to be one. Who were they to tell me any differently? Just self-righteous Bible-thumpers who were no better than me!

Most Christians didn't bother me or attempt to shove Jesus down my throat, and the ones who did usually didn't like the way I responded in word of deed. I was not above using violence or the threat of violence to solved a problem.

I has a reputation, in prison, because of my appearance at the time (long hair and beard), my associates (bikers, hardcore convicts, gang members, etc.), my past (a member of an outlaw motorcycle club), and my crime (1st degree murder). Through it all I believed that I was Christian and going to Heaven if I died.

However, for the first time on that day in September I began to have doubts. I was at the chapel for service, which I had been attending regularly for a year (only to see a friend of mine who was housed on the other side of the prison), when one of the Bible-thumpers gave a devotional. He said that if someone claims to be a Christian and does not follow God's commandments that he is a liar. While he said it I believed he snuck a look at me and I was irate! I believed he was using the chapel service as a cover to say something to me he would never dare say to my face. I stewed for the rest of the service, just staring at him waiting for the service to end so I could confront him. When the service ended I stormed up to him and refused to shake his hand when he offered it. Instead, I told him he made a big mistake and challenged him to talk that way to me anywhere outside the chapel. He truly looked dismayed, so I reminded him of his words. Instantly, he regained his composure and assured me those words had came straight out of the Bible. Now I was stunned. So to attempt to save face I told him "they had better be". He told me the verse and then I hurried back to my housing unit in quite a daze.

When I got to my unit I now had to find a Bible since I hadn't owned one in years. So I walked up to one of the Christians and stunned him by asking for a Bible. He gave it to me with no questions asked and I returned to my cell. I promptly asked my cellie to leave because I needed to be alone. I was nervous to open the Bible and turn to "the verse" but I did it anyways. This is what 1 John 2:4 says: "He that saith I know Him (God), and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

I was dumbfounded! I sure had a lot of thinking to do. I didn't like liars. I lived by a code of honor. I just needed to calm down and keep my perspective. There were people worse than me. Since coming to prison at the age of 24 in August of 1984, I had earned an Associates Degree in Arts & Science, made the Dean's list 4 times, earned an Electronic Servicing Diploma and became a LVA (Literary Volunteers of America) certified tutor. I also enrolled in most of the prison programs offered to improve oneself like anger management, Life Skills, C.G.I.P. (Cognitive Group Intervention Program), Self-Help, and others.

Had I been lying to myself? What if I had been? What does it all mean? That was too scary to contemplate, so I occupied my mind with other things and let the matter go, or so I thought.

Two days later I was out in the dayroom early in the morning when one of the guys shouted to turn on the news. We did just as the second plane hit the Twin Towers. Wow! I immediately went to my cell and turned on my personal TV. I was off from work that day so I watched the news all day long. My mind was racing! Were there more attacks coming? How much worse was it going to get? How was my son reacting? Who did he have to comfort him? Heck, who did I have to comfort me?

Needless to say I went to bed troubled that night. As I was wrestling with sleep I thought I heard an audible voice asking, "Do you know where you'll go if you die tonight?" I say straight up and looked down at my cellie to see if he had said that. He was sound asleep. Was I losing my mind? I tried to go back to sleep but I heard the same question again. Now I was frightened! I was wide-awake and really scared! More scared than I can ever remember being, and after the childhood I had had and the lifestlye I had lived, that was saying something!

I wondered if I actually was going crazy of if the events of the last few days had just been to much for me to process. I needed to get a grip. So I put in a Sammy Hager cassette, put on my headphones, cranked it up loud, and laid back down. However, that wasn't the end of it. I didn't sleep soundly and I was still out of sorts. Something had to give! My cellie was also wondering what was wrong with me. I couldn't talk about it because I thought I'd sound like a whacko if I did. So when he went to work I closed out cell door and started yelling at God. I thought it was time to "clear the air." I went through my entire life telling Him about all the times He had abandoned me or let me down. I didn't hold anything back. I talked for over 3 hours in ranges from whispering to yelling. At the end I was in tears wondering how my life had gotten so messed up.

Strangely I sensed that peace was at my fingertips but just out of reach. I was no longer absolutely confident that I was already a Christian but I still had doubts. So I told Jesus that I would give my life to him and live 100% for him if He proved to me that He was in fact the God described in the Bible. The inner turmoil was gone! Nothing else had changed but I did feel calm. I stayed in my cell that night just basking in the peace I felt and slept very soundly that evening.

The next morning when I awoke I immediately apologized to God for my unbelief. I don't know how I knew it but I absolutely knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was the God the Bible proclaims Him to be!

A lot has happened since then by my faith in God has only been strengthened by living each day in dependence upon Him. Often times I just need to remember that Romans 8:28 and 29 go together, and I need to thank Him for Philippians 1:6. Praise God!


Replies (18) Replies feed

Daniel Posted 10 years, 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 1 month ago   Favorite
WoW! Hey Randy, First of all, I want you to know that everything changes and everything ends, your time is coming soon. Talk about a slow boat to china, I still haven't reiceived your first write back. I'm sure you have some questions about what I'm doing, whatever happened to Hieke? Okay after she left me, by the way broke my hart, started drinking pretty heavily, anyway about a year and a half after she went back to Germany, her mother call's me and said she was in trouble in Amsterdam, her mom said, she thought, Hieke was using herion so off I go to play hero, nothing farther from the truth, the truth is I wanted to go back, I never felt so free as I did in Germany,I was looking for a way to go back why not play hero at the same time. Ironic that being in Germany felt more free than home, you remember we would party all night long, walk all over town and never see a cop, back home there hiding behind some bushes to catch you smoking some weed, America has become a police nation, they turned it into a business, and business is booming. Anyway I'm back in Germany and by this time Hieke is living in Frankfurt,I get the address and go over there, knock on the door and there she is, only she's not quite the beautiful blonde any more, one side of her head is shaved and the other side is green, she's also very skinny, right behind her is the boyfriend he's maybe 5"5 blonde hair in a mohawk with a long tail in back, Han'si Krautfuck knows better than to say one word to me after he realizes I'm her American husband. Randy you wouldn't believe how ugly this guy was, all I could think was you left me for him, I sure hope he had a hauwitzer in those lederhosen? Heike tells me she doesn't want me there, and why have I come? You know how she is, if she want's to do something it's over. So that was it! It was over.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years ago   Favorite
After I arrived back in the states! ( wait ) after trashing myself for two more years in beautiful downtown Weztlar and the surrounding areas, made it back to Amsterdam, remember when we went? That one club was the coolest place I've ever been in, each room had its own theme and it seemed the farther back you went the more wild it got, I loved that place, I think I could have just lived in there, that night we were lucky to get out! place was built like a maze. Do you remember Martin? We stayed at his house the night we decieded to call the United States army to say we couldn't make it in to work because it was a German holiday, ( ballsy, or very stupid ) so I found out who Martin always went to see and there was a good reason he never let you go with, I finally met the guy, the big fish, Randy you would have loved this guy, spoke perfect English , Martin knew if you had met him there would be no need to have to go through him, I stayed with him and his girlfriend for a year, until shit hit the fan like it always does. I told you ever thing changes, everything ends.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years ago   Favorite
Well the German police had no idea what to do with me, here was an American not in the service anymore with the big fish my passport was outdated seems you can only stay in Europe for six months, well I was well beyond that, they ended up just letting me go they didn't want me anyway they had who they wanted, it was funny they coundn't figure out what to do with me so they just let me go, after that things got rough I couldnt make any money, so not long after I called my dad to ask if he would help me get home, you can imagine how that went over, he never wanted me to go back there way back to the first time after I got out of the service, he was right I never should have went back for Hieke. Sometimes I think had I never went back both our lives would be different ( better) You never would have left the service early, maybe you would have married Hieke, and I never would have ended up with my heart broke. ( Yea I know how to spell it ) I wonder If me going back change both of our lives forever? After arriving back home things were bad I could't get a good job living back at my fathers house was hell, he was very dissapionted in the son he had once watch running for touchdowns. Dad died about ten years ago hope he knows I loved him and respected no man more.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years ago   Favorite
Do you remember that old sy-fy flick the pod people? When ever the pod people spotted someone that was still human they would point, open there mouths and make a loud noise so all the other pod people knew that they saw a human, that's how I feel being a felon. Listen I understand that there are laws rightfully so, we need laws, but should you be stamped for life so everybody knows, now with the Internet all people have to do is click a button and all your information comes up, how do you think I found you? Randy all the Internet does is collect information, (to be used later in a court of law) the governments way of keeping tabs on it's citizens, be careful what you write! not that you would have anything bad to say, anything said, can be interpreted what ever way people want it to be, ( for example) Took a nice walked in the park today. ( interpretation went to the woods, bought drugs, he's a felon, that's what they do.) okay enough with that shit, it brings me down.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years ago   Favorite
I want anyone who reads this to know that Randy and I are friends from when we were stationed in Germany, I haven't seen him in over 25 years. We fell in love with the same girl and stuffed a life time of memories into a very short time. Don't take anything I write and think you know Randy or myself, remember, everthing changes everything ends. Randy everything I write stays up on the betweenthebars web site, anyone can read what is written , I don't want to hurt all the hard work you put in to better yourself,( saw your bio) very impressive.So what ever is written about the past is just that, and whatever is written about myself should not reflect what you think Randy is like, We are and always will be altar boy's.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years ago   Favorite
Years have beaten up the body a little bit, right between still feel young and oh no. So lately I've been thinking would I rather live a dull and non eventful 20 more years, or should I try to find that place that makes you feel alive, the place I could never find in adult hood. You see about 15 years ago, things were not going well so I decided the drinking and drugging had not given me what I was looking for.( wait for it the hammers about to fall ) and I said goodbye to my long time companions, booze and drugs. Saying goodbye was easier for me than I noticed for other people, that was it,one day I just stopped. My thinking was that I had not found what I was looking for so I would try it another way. Life changed for me then,I was able to stay at one job started a long term relationship( we recently broke up ) Randy, Sometimes I get tired writing on this phone and my eyes start to strain, so I have to stop for now. This web page does not hold your writing until you come back to it, so I have to send it unfinished ( I'll get back) hope you are okay ?

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years ago   Favorite
Okay I'm back! So after two felony's and a couple of other run in's with the law,( possesion with intent to use ) cocaine! Stopping seemed like the best choice, like I said, wasn't having any fun anyway. And now after my recent break up, I find myself thinking one last blow out might be the way to go, my only problem is I don't want to have a blow out alone, wish you and I could do one last hurrah in Germany, look up some old friends, I think Meachum is still waiting for you,( fuck you GI ) oh that girls a lot of fun. Problem is I'm not sure that they will issue me a passport, do you know if a felon can have a passport? After I started writing you, I looked online at Wetzlar, there is a video tour of the whole city, over the bridge and into the park to Hieke's house we go, after all these years it was nice to see, beautiful place. Hieke doe's not come up on Google I can't find her, I don't love her the way I once did, but I hope she's okay. Randy I know that I live in the past, maybe that's why things in my life didn't turn out great,(was never really happy) Should have never went to Germany, or never left.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
So we come to the end of my mostly depressing life story, of course there were other things along the way, but you get the general idea? I look back now and wonder why had I handled Heike's leaving me so badly, should have been tougher than that. Randy I wanted to write this little life essay so you would know where I'm coming from and where I've been, now that I finally rieceved your first write back we don't have to go down memory lane any more, unless you want to, remember I live in past nothing I'd love more than to talk about old times. We could have conversations about religion if you want? I have some thoughts on the subject, we could talk about when your getting out, and what your going to do, I read you have a son (congratulations) hope he's smarter than we are? Like I said my life right now is in transition I don't know where I'll be 6 months from now, and my phones connenected with my girlfriends account she can turn it off when ever she wants, I have a year left on the contract, but we bought two phones together and since my credit sucks there under her name, Okay from now on I think I'll just answer your write backs.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Doctor, Randy Whiting, Is that what you are after all that college?I wish you could tell me how to make some real money, my whole life I have worked the hardest and lowest paying jobs. Did you know I went to Alaska and worked on those fishing boats, oh my god, that job was crazy, 18 hours up 6 hours down you can't quit because your in the middle of the Bering sea, they treat you like crap, and pay you like that, you probably heard stories about people who went up there and made 30 grand, but that's on a small crab boat, crew of about 6, I was on a commercial fishing boat, about 50 people,it was a floating factory,catch and pack, I signed for a 3 month contract, you have to finish out the contract or no pay, any job that makes you sign a contract, maybe you need to think about it a little. So that's just one of the bad jobs I have had, Randy I know I'm not a doctor, but you would think I could figure out how to make some real money, you know my whole life I never made money that important, I needed it to do what I wanted, so once I had a little money to do what I wanted I never thought about it until I needed some more. Doctor I think this man needs a labottumi.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Ha! Just thought of this, I would alway's have enough money to get myself to Wetzlar , and you always had enough to get us both back, Man what's wrong with me money is important! You think I'd have learned that by now, I have had nice girls leave me because I have no ambition to make money, and no idea how.

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
How? Well given my current health situation,I have a hard time staying on my feet more than three or four hours so all those hard labor jobs are out of the question. Randy have you given any thought to what you would like to do when you get out? Computers are huge, so is anything with security, as far cyber, home computer, home security in general is big, cameras around any structure, computer programmer, hey your the doctor, not me, should be no problem for you to be a computer specialist, I hope you don't have enough time left for another degree, but a class on computers would be helpful. So I couldn't help but notice when I first wrote you, you were at Stanley, now your at Black River, I can only hope this is another step towards the front door, Today is good Friday, Randy take peace in the fact that the long suffering is coming to and end, don't be anxious,I know you think you missed a lot but not really( easy for me to say ) Everything you want will be there for you, you can live a lifetime, in a day! Happy Easter!

Daniel Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Today is Easter Sunday, being a catholic, I can remember all the way back to when we were just kids 7 or 8 years old,always having to get super dressed up to go to mass, we always had little man suits and the girls had nice flowery dresses, back then I didn't know about god, just knew it was going to be a long day, the pictures had to be taken, relatives came over and more pictures were taken, then we all went to this big building were I was told this guy Jesus would be, all I knew was, people seemed nicer than the week before, everybody saying hello, how nice we all looked, then we would all stand until this guy with a funny hat, swinging some type of smokey stuff from both arms, it was hot in that place,I would begin to fidget, looking around at all the people waiting for this funny hat guy to get to the front and start talking,when I was little nothing the man with the long robe and funny hat said really mad any sense and after a very short time, I wasn't really listening anymore, just waiting for the man to let us sit down or a least kneel, the singing was good,in between all the talking, the only song I knew was the our father, now instead of just being there, I was able to participate, once again I was awake. Funny thing that guy they talked about, Jesus he still didn't show up, this guy's harder to find than the Easter eggs that we had looked for just that morning,in fact when I was little we went to mass every weekend and that guy named Jesus never once was there, in person, all I could think was he must be like all the other guys that we heard about but never really saw, kinda like the Easter bunny, who I was told hid those eggs,we had found just that morning, or was he more like the guy in the red suit, they called him Santa Claus,but I never saw him either, or maybe this guy Jesus was more like the fairy god mother,they both have the god word in common. Now that I'm old each one of my childhood favorites, have been fake,all stories made up by men just like me,they all have books written about them Santa Claus lives at the North Pole,The Easter bunny's hopping down the bunny trail,they have all fallen like dominoes, at a certain age each one us were told there really is no Santa Clause, I was crushed,what do you mean he's not real, this guy that you told me about for ten years doesn't exist,this can't be true, but I was good, and he brought me presents, then I started thinking all our childhood favorites would only come if we did something for them, be good and he'll come, go to sleep, and she'll come, pray and he will hear you. So I'm the first to admit whenever I have been in trouble I start praying like crazy,the our father,roles off my tongue, just like it did all those years ago on Easter Sunday.Please God don't be the last domino to fall, Randy if you wanted to know it's called behavior modification, be good you'll get this!

Daniel Posted 9 years, 12 months ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Randy, I honestly don't know if there is a God or not and neither does anyone else. Man is an unruly creature,wants stuff he can't have, some men are lazier than others, some like to lie, some will cheat you, some will take your every thing you have, the point is how are we going to control these people? Not everyone is the same there are people with higher character than others, in fact most people try to do the right thing, I remember the first time that I gambled,I was about 15 years old and went to the pool hall,with a kid that was older than me, and he took my five dollars playing pool, I never forgot how that felt, and to this day do not gamble,lying makes me feel bad so I don't lie, my point is these are all learned responses, some people have no conscience,laws by themselves don't stop these people. So maybe a long time ago a very smart man thought of another way to control the people, scare the shit out of them. Randy, have you ever read the constitution of the United States? This document written for the start of a nation, is so perfect that it has stood for over two hundred years, not one word added,not one phrase changed, those men sat down and wrote a document that will stand through time, smart men that wrote a document, that no other man can poke a hole through, that's incredible. The bible on the other hand, also written by man at times contradicts itself,the whole book is a guessing game, we need preachers to explain to us what God, was trying to say to us, he's God don't you think that he could have a book written that there are no holes in, and I love when the so called expert's can't explain something, they say well that's why you just have to have faith, that's there answer for every single thing that can't explain in the Bible.Faith that's what it comes down to, Do you of Don't you have Faith, Randy if I find out tomorrow there is no God, I won't steal, or cheat , or lie , because it just makes me feel bad, I think most people are that way, I hope you can change my mind, a little discussion is good, and please don't say, you just have to have faith. Peace out, Brother

Daniel Posted 9 years, 12 months ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Randy, I want you to know,you are my friend, and I respect you, I respect any choice you make. Please believe me, my reason for writing to you about God is for me not you, I want to believe again, I want something to hold onto, unfortunately over the years things have happened that makes me question my faith, and I could tell in your writings that you believe very strongly I respect that and was hoping you could enlighten me, and help me to see why you believe there is a God, Many times I have done the same thing that you did, I asked God for a sign,anything, and I would be his,but no response ever came, I am one of those people that has to be shown it's real, I'm not following anybody, God should know this about me, and make me one of his soldiers,Randy I could keep going,but I think you understand me, just wanted to make sure you didn't think I didn't support your choice, if it wasn't you I would have never asked someone else about God, I respect what you think,I know you're smart, and if you got something good I want it, typical human I want what you got.Ha!
Your Friend

Daniel Posted 9 years, 12 months ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Okay today is the Saturday after Easter Sunday, and I've cooled off on the religious thing, I't such a deep subject. So how are you doing? Hope you are doing well, I don't know why but since I found you, I think about Heike, more than I have in years. Did you know that over the years I would call 411 in Madison,asking if they had a Randy in the phone book, and for the past ten years, I would once and a while try to find you on line my search always came up empty, until I found you on this web site, so lately I've been trying to put Heike's name into the computer, and it's a dead end, got any ideas on how to find her?If we could maybe she would write you too? So doctor I know you have a son, what about wife or girlfriend? Don't worry about the religious thing, I think I'm going through a mid life crisis, this will end too!
Hey little faster on the write backs, feel like I'm talking to myself.

Randy Whiting Posted 9 years, 12 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Randy Whiting Posted 9 years, 11 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Daniel Posted 9 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Yes!! You did it , your fucking kidding me, all these years I was led to believe you were there, with your little motorcycle gang buddies, some how something terrible happen, but that's not what happened, you and you alone killed this poor girl, knowingly and willfully took this girls life. I'm totally disgusted! First let me start with this motorcycle gang, what kind of man has to wear a leather jacket, hang out in numbers to intimidate people, commit crimes, against other people, no man I want to know, and you say your a man, but didn't you let a couple of your little buddies go down for you instead of standing up in the beginning, and say it was you that did this terrible thing, you and you alone.You say your a change man now? That you had to change from the man you were in Germany, well that's the only man I know, and if you had to change, then I don't fucking know you at all, let me tell you I don't have to change from the man I was in Germany, I just had fun made love, and never hurt anybody, I don't have to change from the man I am today, because at the core I am still that same man, I never knowingly or willfully hurt anybody in my life, that's who I am, that's who I've always been, your shit is one big lie. All these years I felt sorry for you, when I should have felt sorry for your victim, and her family. I have to many things going on in my life to worry about you, don't write me back, we will never get together again.

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