But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. — (Romans 5:8)
Why am I leading with this verse? Because for years I have had this recurring memory from my childhood on my heart. I lived with my great aunt Josie for about a year when my mother rented a room in her house. Josie had a big dog named Bully. Bully protected my aunt and her property. The dog and I instantly bonded. He loved me and I loved him.
Whenever I did something wrong that caused Aunt Josie to want to discipline me, Bully came to my rescue. He snarled at her and she would stop. Bully was my savior and protector. Even when my mother tried to discipline me, Bully came to the rescue. I knew in times of trouble I could run out into the backyard where Bully lived and he would protect me. No harm came to me when Bully was around.
Bully died a few years later. My protector and savior was gone. But I’ll never forget him. My love for him is still strong.
Over the next few years my only protector, besides myself, was my mother, Bernice. We lived in a Memphis slum and later a housing project, Claiborne Homes. My mother was always concerned that some neighborhood thug would attack or harm me.
So my mother preached to me, “If someone attacks you, do whatever is necessary. Then come home and I will protect you.” When I was seven years old, some elementary school kid made the mistake of punching me in the eye. I can’t remember why he did it. But I can remember how I reacted. I grabbed a brick that was lying nearby and hit him as hard as I could over the heard. He collapsed like he had been shot. I then calmly walked home and forgot about him. I did not even tell my mother about the incident.
But she found out later that day when the kid’s mother came to our home, threatening to call the police on me. My mother listened to her and then to my side of the story. She then told that kid’s mother to get out of our house or she would suffer the consequences. My mother praised me and treated the black eye that I had suffered.
I lost my mother, my second protector and savior, when she died in the late 1980s. From that point I was my own protector. I did things myself. I did things my way. But I am thankful I never again had to use violence to settle anything.
I always knew there was a God. But I got caught in the lie, that we depend on ourselves only. We depend on our knowledge, our strength or position to solve our problems. A friend pointed out that this attitude is called pride or arrogance, It dawned on me that yes, Bully the dog and mother were both my protectors. They died. But I have a protector who gave his life for a sinner like me. Thus the reference to Romans 5:8 at the beginning to this piece.
While Bully and my mother were my temporary protectors and saviors, Jesus is my permanent Protector and Savior. I’ve put all my trust in Him. And as I sit in my cubicle at the Atlanta Federal Work Camp, I know I am safe and do not need to fear anything. Now instead of calling for Bully the dog or my mother, I call on Jesus. As Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Bernard Addison is serving 46 months for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or to:
Bernard Addison/ 44863-074/ FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D/ P.O. Box 150160/ Atlanta, GA 30315