Isaiah 55: 10-11
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
And achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Last spring we met with a woman quite antagonistic to the things of faith, yet she kept coming to the discussion or hanging around the fringes of it. Often she would interject unkind or derogatory comments, and would generally be disruptive to those interested in engaging. This behavior carried on throughout the spring months. When we returned in September, we were told that her group would no longer be receiving a team. In prison, the biggest or most daunting personalities can and often do direct the whole group.
Needless to say, we were very sad for her and for the ladies who had been engaged. As teams, we left it in the Lord’s hands and prayed while weekly going to the other groups of women. However, unknown to us, over the course of September to December, this woman fell deeper and deeper into a pit of anger and discontent, eventually ending up in isolation around October. She spent two months alone, with her thoughts and consequences swirling around her.
When we came back after Christmas, this antagonistic woman, now out of isolation, was living in the area I was entering. I will not lie when I say we were unsettled and a little nervous about what to expect. We were not prepared at all, though, for what we actually encountered. When we stepped in, three ladies were waiting, ready to begin our time together. This woman was one of them.
The story she unfolded to us cemented for me experientially that God’s word does not return void…
She shared that things had gone from bad to worse after our team left. She spiraled in anger – everything set her off. She told us of a difficult encounter with a fellow inmate that had resulted in her being put into isolation for two months. While in isolation, she remembers going over and over her choices and consequences, and recalls how angry she felt all the time. This kept building until one day, she says she finally knew she had to take each thing one by one and tell God she had done them and that she was very sorry. In tears, she told Jesus she believed He was real and that she wanted Him to direct her life from then on. She realized that her religion was not helping her overcome these things, and she believed God was the only one who could help her.
When she emerged from isolation, her countenance had been completely transformed. As we sat there that day, we were in awe of God as this woman turned and apologized to each of us for her unkind words and attitude of the months before. We were able to assure her of our love and acceptance. She is now engaged in Bible study with us and is thriving, being a support to others. She will be released a transformed child of Christ.
We did not think she was taking in anything we shared about God while she was in her caustic state, yet something was deposited. During her time in isolation, it was God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit that worked in her heart to accomplish God’s desire for her – not us. We were the messengers, but His word settled and worked within her over that time, and brought forth the purpose for which God sent it. The Bible says God’s word is alive and active. Here is a living example of a woman who sat alone with nothing but herself and a few snippets of God’s word, and yet she came out of that season a brand new person in Christ. God will always move in His own timing and way, but we can rest assured that if we are obedient to share the word of God, He will accomplish what He desires with it.