billdallasbook Posted By Jud Wilhite: Follow Jud On Twitter

I’m enjoying a book by Bill Dallas on second chances called Lessons from San Quentin. At one point he asked a veteran prison guard what would happen if an earthquake hit and all the walls crumbled.

The guard said, “Every short-timer in here would run for the hills like there is no tomorrow…. Death row guys would be shufflin’ out of the gates in their ankle restraints as fast as they could…. And the Lifers who have made peace with themselves would stay right here. They wouldn’t run. In fact, I’d bet that most of them would immediately search through the rubble to help the injured. They know they‘ll leave this place when their time is up. They’ll walk out the front door with dignity.”

I love how he says the Lifers have made peace with themselves. These are second chance people. And after spending years in San Quentin himself, Dallas makes a point that the short-timers are often so focused on getting out, and on what they hate about their surroundings, that they don’t really experience change from the brokenness. But the Lifers are broken by it. In San Quentin they become the life-givers, encouraging others, caring about others and many experiencing transformation through a relationship with God.

How about me? Am I allowing my own struggles to drive me to God to see his transformation and grace? Or, am I so focused on getting through it and blaming others that I receive no real benefit from the experience? How about you?