On The Road Again

I thought my heart was going to jackhammer its way out of my chest that blustery spring day in 1991 when I was released from High Desert State Prison. I knew without a doubt that it had been the grace of God that had kept me alive and protected for five years and seven months.

During my prison sentence, I hadn’t heard from a single friend or family member except for that one unwelcome visit from my dad and brother.I was 41 years old and as far as I could tell there wasn’t a person on earth who cared about me – except my sister Rene and my grandfather. Those were the two people I most wanted to connect with on the outside. When I called Rene, she welcomed me into her home.“How’s grandpa?” I asked.A shadow fell over her beautiful face. “He’s gone.”“What?”“He died while you were in prison.”

I had to remind myself that ex-cons didn’t cry. At least not until they were alone at night. I hated the fact that I would never be able to hear my grandfather’s voice again or get to tell him what God had done for me. He would’ve loved to hear about it.None of the counselors wanted me going to a halfway house when I was released because 89 percent of people who do end up back in prison. I would have been forced to go to one if Rene hadn’t taken me in. I worked for Wayne putting on roofs all day. Rene got me a piano and a guitar.

At night I sat in the 40-foot RV in Rene’s back yard and wrote a blend of country and blues.“What do you know about Wayne being molested by an older boy in Little Dixie?” Rene asked as she started dinner one evening.“Did someone molest him?” I asked, shocked.“Yeah,” Rene said filling me in on the story.“I remember Mom and Dad dropping us off with that family for the weekend,” I recalled. “I thought the kid was odd but he never approached me. I knew nothing about what he did to Wayne.”“Wayne told the family about the molestation two weeks before you got out of prison,” Rene explained. “That’s why Mom and Dad don’t want to have anything to do with you now.”“What, they blame me?”“Yeah, apparently. And so does Wayne. Since you were older, they all expected you to protect him.”

“I was older but I was just a kid! And Wayne never told me!”I walked outside and took slow, deep breaths. Here we go again. The fact that my little brother had been molested was horrifying to me. Even as a kid I would have done anything in my power to protect him if I’d known. But the elephant in the living room that everyone seemed to ignore was that it was the parents’ job to protect the children.

It had been their job to protect me in the hospital during those 13 surgeries. It had been their job to protect Wayne from molestation. However, they weren’t accepting any responsibility for leaving us with that family. Once again, I was cast in the roll of the family villain. The proverbial scapegoat. The whole thing was so twisted and dysfunctional it made me want to pull my hair out. I couldn’t let it get to me.I decided to address it with Wayne.“Wayne, I’m sorry that creep molested you. I was just a kid but if I’d known what was happening I would have helped you. I’m sorry I didn’t protect you.”

Wayne offered me a job and things rocked along okay for a while. Sometimes he’d get cranky with me for no apparent reason and I would apologize again. He had trouble letting it go.Rene helped me get a car and I drove to meet my parole officer, settling into a chair across from his desk. “What’s your plan?” he asked.“I’m living with my sister and working for my brother,” I said handing him a piece of paper. “Here are their names and addresses.”“Luann and the kids are still living up north,” he explained. “She divorced you. If you go see your kids, you’ll violate the conditions of your parole and go back to prison.” Purchase on Amazon

Depending on God is basic to the Christian life. We trust in, or depend on, God for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8–9). We depend on God for wisdom (James 1:5). In fact, we depend on God for everything (Psalm 104:27) and in everything (Proverbs 3:5–6). The psalmist teaches the Lord’s reliability with the three-fold description “the LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2).

Depending on God alone does not mean we act foolishly. Jesus did not need to jump off the pinnacle of the temple to “prove” that He depended on God (Matthew 4:5–7). There is a difference between trusting God and putting God to the test. Depending on God alone doesn’t mean we dispense with God’s gifts. For example, a person with strep throat may refuse to go to the doctor, saying (hoarsely), “I am going to depend on God alone to heal me.” Or a person driving a car may close her eyes and release the steering wheel, saying, “I am going to depend on God alone to drive me home.” These actions would be foolish. God has provided us with doctors and medicines to help heal us. He has given us the wits to steer a car. We can still depend on God as we visit the doctor, knowing that all healing ultimately comes from God; and we can still depend on God as we drive, knowing that all safety ultimately comes from God. Source

StevieRay Hansen

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