The Keys to the Cell

December 28, 2003

THE KEYS TO THE CELL by Ray Pritchard The man hugged me and wouldn’t let go. “For the first time in a long time, I listened today and I heard what you said.” He told me that some friends came to see him and told him the truth. They were taking a big risk because they didn’t know how he would respond. It wasn’t good news at all. They had seen him drift away, make bad choices, cover it up, make excuses, stumble in the darkness, and then say, “I’ve got it under control.” He would get angry if anyone got too close to the truth. But his friends must have loved him very much, because they knew how he was likely to respond, and they came anyway. My mind wandered back many years, to another time and another place, to some friends who came to see me, to tell me the truth I didn’t want to hear. They saw some things in my life that needed to change, and they cared enough to tell me about it. I didn’t take the news very well, I raised my voice and said some very unkind things. Friendships were broken that took years to repair. But looking back, I see clearly now that they loved me and wanted to help me. And somewhere in that troubled period, another friend paid some money so I could go see someone who could help me out. I flew to another state, kept the appointment, and later received a packet of material in the mail. As I leafed through it, I found a sheet that had this phrase printed on it in poster-sized letters: “The Truth Will Set You Free But It Will Hurt You First.” Though many years have passed, I still remember how I felt when I read that for the first time. It was one of the those “light bulb in the brain” moments when the light of truth suddenly flashes and you think, “Why didn’t I see that before?” My friend was still hugging me and telling me the story. “They came to me with the keys to the cell,” he whispered. Thank God for friends who care enough to come with the keys that will set us free. “I had been lying about everything.” But that’s in the past now. About a month ago I received a CD from a ministry called “A Fresh Start Now.” As I listened to the meditations, one sentence stuck in my mind: “The key to having a better present is to stop trying to have a better past.” We all fear what people will think about us if they knew our past. Who cares? The past is what it is and can’t be changed. Once we stop trying to have a better past, we can have a better present and a brand-new future by the grace of God.

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