Pilgrim Jim's Treasure Field
For where your treasure is, there will  your heart be also. Matthew 6:21 KJV
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SO NEAR YET SO FAR AWAY

I became involved with a group of men who regularly visited the County Jail and held gospel services for the inmates, during the early years of my journey with Jesus. It was a rewarding ministry with some joyful, as well as some sad experiences. We wanted to contact each person there and present the gospel truths in such a way that they would desire to hear the voice of the Lord and open the door of their hearts to Him. We found that it wasn't possible to deal with each man individually, even though we would have liked to do so. We presented a message to the whole cell block, (there were four cell blocks) and prayed that they would hear, believe and be saved. It was always a joy to see and hear someone call upon the Lord Jesus for help in his life, sometimes for the first time in his life. We knew that God loved each of them and we wanted them to realize it also.

Some of the men in this ministry were singers and musicians, playing guitars, mandolins and a five string banjo. Have you ever heard banjo sounds ringing and bouncing off the steel walls and bars of a jail cell block? It was a good sound and most of the inmates and guards enjoyed all the music and welcomed our visit. I feel good about the fact that after many years, those same musicians, who are still alive,  are still playing and singing gospel music. Praise God!

Whenever I would present a message from the word of God, I usually tried to slowly walk along the cell block bars and attempt to make eye contact with each man that was there, knowing that a lot of them were very much like me, except we were on different sides of the bars. The scriptures teach that the sword of the spirit is the word of God so I felt that my job was to present the word and pray that God's spirit would use it as a sword to penetrate and speak to hearts. I would depend upon the word and the riches of God's kindness, tolerance and patience to lead them to repentance. I wanted to be a help to them if I possibly could and I usually would read the scripture verse Romans 3:23 and 24, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  NIV

One night as I was presenting a short gospel message, I noticed a man inside the cell block who was slowly pacing from one end to the other, appearing as if he was deep in thought. The man was rather tall and the steps of his pace were a little different than most. When I glanced down at his feet I could see why the steps were different because the front parts of both feet were gone. I don't know what had happened to them and I have many times wondered what had befallen him. He glanced in my direction only occasionally as I spoke and when I asked if any of the men would like to step forward for prayer, some men came up to the bars and there were tears in some of the eyes, but the tall man was not among those who came forward. He continued to slowly and quietly pace back and forth in the cell block. We spoke and prayed with each of the men who came forward and then I walked as near as I could get to the tall man and asked, "How about you, Sir, would you consider giving your heart to Jesus?" He stopped pacing and looked at me, saying something like this, "I know that what you have been saying is true, and I know that I should do it, but I can't do it right now." That man was so near, yet so far away. As he started to slowly pace again I said something else but I don't remember exactly what I said. He again said that he knew that I had given the men the truth but he could not do it right now and then he added the words that still bother my mind today. He said, "There is something that I have to do first."

I have thought of the tall man with the different steps, many times since that night in the county jail. I hope and pray that he is safe and that he, somewhere along the line, found the right time to give his heart to Jesus. I believe there are many people who think that the gospel message is true but just don't have the time to do it, right now. They are so near, yet so far away. Maybe some think, "There is something that I have to do first." So near, yet so far away.

How about you?

"Seek the Lord  while he may be found; call on him while he is near"  Isaiah 55:6  NIV

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8  NIV

And that's the way it was that night, on Pilgrim Jim's journey.
James Lloyd Clark

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