"Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison," Hebrews 13:3

I had a talk with God today. At first I didn't recognize God because God was revealed in the form of one of my clients. My clients are men who are serving time in a California prison. I'm a sort of caseworker and cop. I've been doing this for 23 years.

However, I first met God in person about six months ago during God's previous visit to the prison, but I didn't recognize God then either. I'm not sure what I expected God to look like, but now I know. God is a 5 foot 4 inch, 285 pound, 56 year-old Tongan man with long wild frizzy gray hair, making him look a bit like a brown Albert Einstein. I knew him then as Mr. M*********, somebody who has been in and out of prison, serving short terms for petty parole violations like loitering in hotel lobbies. I visited him today because he'll be leaving our facility soon, and one of my duties is to help the men with basic logistics of living in the community after prison.

The conversation started like this: "Good morning Mr. M! I'm Mr. Gibbs. Do you remember me from your last visit? He smiles at me knowingly as he sits on his bed. "We need to fill out some paperwork today" I say. "Is that Okay?" Mr. M. just smiles warmly at me, but doesn't say anything. "We need to start making plans for where you're going to live after you leave us. Where's your home?" "I live in the Holy Land." Last time I saw him he told me he owns the Hilton Hotel in Concord and usually lives there. I came into the interview hoping he would have a more practical plan.

"Oh, really....." I say, with a bit of skepticism in my voice. Wondering if he new anything about world geography, I ask "Where exactly is the Holy Land?" Mr. M. says the Holy Land is in Concord. "When you say Concord, do you mean Concord, California, like in Contra Costa County?" Mr. M clarifies, "It used to be Concord, but I renamed it the Holy Land."

"Sooo........where do you stay when you're in the Holy Land?" "I stay in the Royal Hotel." I tell him that I don't remember a Royal Hotel in Concord. Actually, I don't know anything about hotels in Concord, but at this point I'm betting if I enter "Royal Hotel" in Google Maps it won't find anything in Concord. Again Mr. M. clarifies, "It used to be called Hotel 6." "Wait, I'm thinking that you renamed the Hotel 6 also, right?" "I own all the Hotel 6s, Hilton Hotels, Best Western Hotels and the Disney Hotel. I renamed them all 'Royal Hotel.'" "Hmmmm" I answer. I think he senses my skepticism because he continues, "I own all the hotels in the world."

Just when I think I'm beginning to understand him, he shows me he is one step ahead. "Well, when you can't stay in the Royal Hotel, where do you stay?" I'm thinking I can steer him toward providing an address for family or a friend where he can stay.  "Why wouldn't I be able to stay in my own hotel?" he gently laughs at the absurdity of my question. "But sometimes I stay in King City." I ask, "Like King City down by Monterey?" "No. Of course not. King City used to be Oakland, before I renamed it."

I decide to move on to the next topic. "Your records say you were born in Tonga but you told me before that you are a U.S. citizen. Do you claim dual U.S. and Tongan citizenship?" Mr. M. laughs heartily. "I can't be a Tongan citizen because Tonga doesn't exist." I am fairly confident regarding my knowledge of world geography, so I say "I distinctly recall seeing a country called Tonga on a map of the South Pacific Ocean." Mr. M. speaks slowing, using that patient voice one reserves for people who are a little slow mentally "I moved all the people from Tonga to the holy land, so Tonga doesn't exist any more."  Feeling I need to show him I'm no dummy, I argue "Well, I think that Tonga still exists, even if there are no people there anymore. I mean, there's still an island called Tonga, unless of course ... well, you didn't make the island disappear, did you?" "No. I don't do that kind of thing anymore."

"Oh, I think I'm beginning to understand. You are the New Testament God." "Yes, you do understand." Not yet convinced, I ask "Why didn't you tell me this when you were here last time?" "I did tell you, but you forgot." "I think I would have remembered meeting God." "You remembered, but people forget everything as soon as they lose sight of me. When you leave you will get a book that explains everything about me. Then you will know." Thinking I can test God, I slyly ask "Why don't you give me the book now, so I can read it here?" God smiles and chuckles at me. "That is what my angels are for, to deliver my messages."

I think about this for a little while. "You know, this kind of makes sense to me now. It explains why everybody thinks you're ... well, they don't know you're God, so they keep sending you back here." Then I realize "Since you're God, you could leave here any time you want. So why do you choose to stay here?" God just smiles at me, with a shrug that says "Is there anyplace more important for God to be?


Miss Merissa said…
I think for me it's: I know God has Always Worked in My Life, but will He always want to...??
I know He is there for me 24/7, but I feel I don't deserve any of it. However, I do thank Him for ALL the Blessings He has given me, especially ALL my LOVED ONES!!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for this, Joel. I miss you and think of you often, especially as I watch Jasmyn grow: I was so blessed with your help with her when she was so little. Anyway, great blog. It's one that will stick with me and I am grateful for the reflection.
Anonymous said…
Also, do you mind if I add your blog to my "blog-roll"? I don't like to do that without permission first.

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