Tell the Truth
Life in the fast lane continued to get faster and faster for me… and on September 28, 1978 I finally hit rock bottom!
While on vacation in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I naively volunteered to help an associate recover some stolen drug money. I was often described as “wild & crazy”; and so, of course, I volunteered to climb down a rope off the top of a 5-story building in route to a 3rd floor balcony while my partner in crime watched from the top of the Plantation, Florida apartment complex.
Jumping over the balcony, I popped open the sliding glass door before opening the front door to allow my cohort, “Tom” to enter the darkened apartment, having used binoculars to watch the occupants leave an hour earlier; everything appeared to be going as planned, and we waited for their return.
But as the better laid plans of mice & men often fail, we only uncovered $5,000 of the reported $30,000 loss and Tom insisted they wait until “John” returned home! I wanted no part of this but soon fell victim to peer pressure and agreed to stay (after receiving some false courage from a bottle of wine).
A couple hours later, one of the occupants, “John” returned and entered the apartment, Tom was in the bedroom and so it was I who wrestled with him over a .357 Magnum – only to have my right femur shattered. He then placed the gun to the side of my head only to discover the gun’s chamber was now empty!
That night at a nearby hospital I very naively waived my (Miranda) rights to two detectives, giving them a full confession for my part in the attempted burglary. Later I admitted my confession was full of lies as I didn’t want my precious Mom to find out…but Moms always find out……and God never sleeps!
Little did I know that I would spend 6 full months in traction followed by 6 more months in a body cast before I was to ever undergo corrective surgery on my shattered leg!
It’s been said that “men cry out to God in foxholes and prisons!
"...because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains."
-Psalms 107:11-14 NIV
Psalms 107:11-14 clearly supports this as we read “They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High…they fell, and no one was there to help…they cried in their trouble!” Only then is God able to bring them out of darkness into His marvelous light, before “snapping their chains!”
Following my arrest and subsequent “confession” I was moved to the 3rd floor of the Ft. Lauderdale-based Broward Medical Center. Under 24/7 guard and heavily medicated, I was at the lowest that I’d ever been. My rebellious heart & mind were now consumed by fear, anxiousness and depression, I wanted to die!
But on the 19th day, the guard was removed and I was placed on ROR (released on my own recognizance). The very same day my doctor cancelled all of my medication. I now had the liberty to talk to others and my mind was (somewhat) coherent.
The very next day a young man named “Ken” was transferred from the 5th floor and placed in the bed beside Hicks! Also, in pain due to a slipped disc, Ken overheard my tears in the next bed… and patiently led me to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! I later testified “no lights were flashing, no fireworks… but that night I received an inner peace that was indescribable!”
One night later my bed was surrounded by several new (Christian) family members from a nearby church… who brought smiles and gifts and a birthday cake with one candle to help celebrate my 1st birthday as a child of God! They did not judge me for my past or for what I had done… but they modeled the unconditional love of Christ!
The following night, Ken was transferred back to his original hospital room!
My public defender insisted that “I not say a word during Court” but I was compelled to TELL THE TRUTH, during my 3-day trial which occurred in June of 1979. And despite it meant I was changing the original taped confession; and while everything in the “natural” lent itself to me heeding my attorney’s well-meaning counsel. Instead, I decided to OBEY GOD and trust in Him for my future!
Sentenced to a consecutive life plus 15-years, I told a local newspaper reporter “I may have to serve Life… but they’ll never get the 15 years!” He joyfully continued “I have discovered an inner joy that life in the fast lane never provided!
The following morning, I was flown to northern Florida where I underwent corrective surgery on my leg and on Christmas Day, 1979, I entered Raiford, Florida’s Union Correctional Institution. I soon discovered God was “showing up and showing off” on behalf of many fully-surrendered men who were pursuing an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ!
At Raiford, I chose to “seek first the Kingdom of God” and a mere 18-months later a letter arrived from the Florida Supreme Court… which announced my entire sentence had been fully vacated!!!”
In the book of Corinthians, we read “God uses the foolishness of the world to confound the wise!” When I “foolishly” told the truth the Word of God instantly became effectual… in my obedience to obey God rather than man, I was rewarded as my trial judge was confounded and forgot to read jury instructions!
The following year, based on another inmate’s appeal, the Florida Supreme Court “reversed the law” stating “a trial judge must read jury instructions!” Consequently, sentences were vacated throughout the Florida penal system, including mine!
I later learned “the very next year the Florida Supreme Court reversed the law back!” Once again, the Red Sea opened… to set free captives… only to close again!
The Truth Will Set You Free…but, Truth MUST start at home! 2 Chronicles 16:9a reminds us “the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the whole earth…” He’s looking for those whose hearts are FULLY surrendered to Him. So HE can “show Himself strong” on behalf of those committed to Him!
A fully-surrendered child of God must model Jesus by walking in integrity. To truly please our Father it is imperative that we live honest, trustworthy lives…at home, church and in the marketplace! When we are faithful in this we can EXPECT our Father to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we (could EVER) ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us!” (Ephesians 3:20)