Recently I read Gene McGuire’s autobiography, Unshackled, after hearing his story on Moody Radio. Gripping! In the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person, at seventeen Gene ended up with a life sentence in a high-security prison. Gene is my age; while I was going to football games and graduating from Kenmore High, Gene entered prison.
Ten years into his sentence, Gene embraced Jesus as his Savior. Over the next 25 years, God transformed him into a leader of a vibrant prison ministry. During this time, Gene filed several appeals for review of his case. After working in many high-ranking prison jobs due to his excellent record and leading in ministry for many years, everyone assumed surely this time he’d get his review. But it was denied. Gene’s heart sank. He returned to his prison cell, paperwork in hand.
And this is where my jaw dropped.
Because when Gene returned to his cell, devastated by this news, on the verge of anger and despair, he cried out to God. And God responded. He reminded Gene of TRUTH. And Gene knew what to do: he fell on his knees, praised God, and thanked Him for everything he could think of to thank Him for. He lived Philippians 4:6, “ . . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Gene’s narration of his childhood and his prison experience is a real page-turner. However, his attitude after releasing his life to God is what held me in great awe and affected my life. For EVERY MORNING, as he awoke, he thanked God for providing a Great Salvation for him.
I thought about this. Pondered it, really. A Great Salvation. Think about it. The Great Rescue. Jesus pays our death penalty by dying in our place. Through Jesus, God makes us HOLY and RIGHTEOUS—then He LIVES INSIDE US, to guide, comfort, and continually transform us—communing with us moment by MOMENT! And this is all while we’re still on EARTH!!
Then, after our bodies die, we will immediately be WITH GOD and know Him in an even fuller way! And it is for ALL ETERNITY!!
But that’s NOT ALL! We’ll get a NEW BODY—whoa, mama! Can you IMAGINE?? But WAIT! There’s MORE! We will also be SINLESS. OK—ponder THAT one awhile! I’m sinless—you’re sinless—all in heaven are sinless! Imagine relating in sinless ways in our sinless selves! It’s mind boggling!
In his dark hour, Gene praised and thanked God, accepting that God wanted him to continue His work in prison. But there’s more to the story! I won’t spoil the ending for you—read it for yourself! It was so inspiring to me! Gene reminded me of this Great Salvation God gave me—not because of anything I did—it is a GIFT. THE Gift. Better than $5 billion—because that is useless where I’m going! God’s Gift is THE Gift that truly keeps on giving!
Gene inspired me to be intentional to THANK God for His Great Gift of Salvation every morning as I awake. I have to tell you, it’s a wonderful way to start your day! It will change your life. It is changing mine.
I’m so excited about Fellowship Bible Study this fall, entitled The Great Week. I’m eager to study the details of all my Jesus said and did in that Great Week leading up to His Great Gift: Jesus Christ’s sacrifice in my place. Given to me. Given to you. Given for Him. Because He loves us.
Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words! (2 Corinthians 9:15 CEV)
Check these out:
Unshackled, by Gene McGuire genemcguire.org
Hallelujah, What a Savior (classic version w/lyrics—Austin Stone Church) youtube link
Hallelujah, What a Savior (Christmas version—new lyrics—Austin Stone Church) youtube link
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