No. 254



While I dont know how it is in your neck of the woods or part of the country, our jails and prisons here are always overcrowded. The words Early-Release are used with increasing frequency because the authorities have to let some non-violent inmates out early to make room for still others. It seems like we cant build jails fast enough to meet the need. To be sure, its a revolving door situation and the inmates as well as society are the real losers because of nonproductive lives and millions of dollars spent on incarceration.

If you have ever personally known someone who came from a fine home or was raised by Christian parents and later went to prison, and have wondered where they went wrong, I received an insight from a very fine gentleman the other day that may be at least part of the answer. A few weeks ago some friends invited my wife and me out to dinner and to meet an overnight guest in their home. This guest was Dan Johnson from Greenville, South Carolina who was on his way to Branson, Missouri for a live television interview.

Dan Johnson is the author of a little book titled, Those Who Wait on the Lord and he gave me a personally signed copy. After reading it, a few days later I called and asked him for permission to share a true story it contained that illuminates the thoughts that I shared earlier. He was so gracious and gave me permission to share it with you.

He began by saying, Several years ago, I was invited to stay with a family for a couple days before making my way further North on a short vacation. While in the home both the husband and the wife, on separate occasions, confided in me their grievous concerns for their teenage daughter. The father was rigorously faithful to his family devotions each evening and holds the children to Godly standards; but the eldest daughter would sit there with a surly look on her face registering her disgust with every sigh.

As the days had passed, the fathers frustration fluctuated between grief and anger. As I listened, it seemed to me that this dear father was making the same mistake many others had made. He was giving his daughter his standards without giving her himself. Children need and want much more than just A LIVE-IN PREACHER. They need a dad. This man had almost lost his daughters heart because the only point of meaningful contact between them was a rather cold and formal setting for family devotions.

Was he spending time with his daughter? Technically, yes, but only in the sense that they happened to occupy the same room at the same time. He was losing the battle for his daughters mind because he had all but lost the battle for her heart. So I urged him to start courting his daughter the way he had his wife. Take her to play tennis. Listen to her. Let her do the talking. No preaching. Take her out for lunch. Give yourself to her. To my great joy about six months later, this father wrote me and gave me the good news that his daughter had become a totally NEW person. Truth can bind the mind but it is love that binds the heart.

In our conversation, Dan went on to tell me that he has seen hundreds of parents who had reared their children so strict they couldnt wait to get away. When they did they literally went wild and did most of the things their parents had forbidden them to do. So many times we make the same mistakes and dont wake up until its too late. This may be the answer to that dilemma I posed earlier, Why does a person who is reared in a Christian home wind up in prison? The answer may be they had A LIVE-IN PREACHER when what they really needed was a loving and caring dad. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)