Finishing the Course

by "Irish" Johnny Harvey
May 2009


Last summer, in 2008, I went to the CMC (Corrections Medical Center), which is a facility for inmates’ medical needs.  I went to the center on Tuesday, July 29th and didn’t get released until July 30th. It was determined that I was fine; I got some tests done to see if I would be a suitable kidney donor for my sister, in the event she will need one in the future. While I was at CMC and The Ohio State University Hospital, the Holy Spirit ministered to me mightily in several areas. First and foremost, I was down there with men that were seriously sick and afflicted with diseases that are killing them. My heart went out to them, and I pray for their healing and comfort.

For those that won’t be healed and will die, I pray for the condition of their hearts, and that they are right with the Lord. I have been thanking God daily and witnessing to men daily to count their blessings and thank the Lord for their health and welfare. I have come to the conclusion that I never should complain about anything.

Shame on me if I do complain, because there are so many people in much worse conditions than I am.

Another area He ministered to me in was freedom. He has given me a working definition of freedom that is one of a spiritual perspective rather than a natural perspective. Freedom, the way the Spirit has ministered it to me, is not the right to do what we want to do; it is the God-given privilege and ability to choose to do what is right and honorable in God’s eyes regardless of where we are. We can be in prison, in the hospital, the homeless shelter, or a mansion on a country club drive, and as believers we still have this God-given ability to choose to do what is right and honorable regardless of our situations, circumstances or physical or geographical location.

That is true freedom in its purest sense, and with this working definition, I know I am free and can contribute to be free right here where I’m at (prison) and be blessed abundantly. I have always known I am freer than many people on the streets, but now I see it in a much clearer and much deeper spiritual way.

The last area in which He ministered to me on this trip was in the area of the people that protested my parole in July, 2009, and the parole board members that voted against releasing me. God showed me that, although they appear to be my enemies, they are merely tools, instruments in His hand to bring me closer to Him. He is using them to shape me into the image of Christ and to bring me to my full potential in Him.

As He brought this to my realization, I couldn’t even consider them enemies anymore. I can’t even be angry, bitter, or resentful toward them. I have a peace that truly passes understanding about this flop, and I thank the Lord for how He is ministering His grace, peace, wisdom, and understanding to me.

So, that’s where I am right now. And I have moved on nicely. I am blessed.

                                                            *      *      *

My theme very recently has been “Being an Extreme Lover of Jesus.” A devotion that I did last week here in prison inspired me to study and meditate more on the extreme love that God has for us and the extremes many lovers of Christ go to in an effort to return the love He has blessed them with and to others as they do or did His will on earth.

I started really thinking about God. Did God go to extremes for us? Yes. I would say that blessing us with these miraculous bodies, minds, and spirits and providing for us this magnificent earth to live on would be considered extreme. Then, as if that wasn’t good enough, He sacrifices His son so that we cannot only have abundant life on earth, but forgiveness of sin, cleansing of all unrighteousness and eternal life with Him and all the angels in heaven. Now, that’s extreme.

O.k., well, let’s look at Jesus himself. Did He go to extremes for us? Well, only in the purest, truest, most dramatic way anyone ever did on this planet. This brother gave all of Himself for our own lives. He lived sinless in spite of the fact that He was tempted in every way that we are. That’s extreme.

He humbled Himself to be a servant to men when in reality He was the King of Kings, and men should have been serving Him. Think about that one.

He allowed men to falsely accuse Him, spit on Him, punch Him, rip His body to pieces and nail Him, finally, to a cross, making a public spectacle of Him as if He were a common criminal, and He never fought back verbally or physically. That’s extreme. Think about it.

He defeated the devil, sin, death, and hell for us. That’s pretty extreme.

He sent His word and His Spirit to guide us, comfort us, strengthen us, provide for us, encourage us, heal us, and protect us: just to mention a few of the things that the Word and the Holy Spirit do. That’s extreme.

He never leaves us. That’s extreme.

How about His followers, like St. Peter, St. Paul, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, an the host of others? Did they go to extremes for our Lord and others?

Peter and Paul stood up to the authorities of their day when it could have and ultimately did mean death. Their Gospel message saved thousands. They were beaten, imprisoned, and eventually killed for their love of Christ. That’s extreme.

Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II gave of their entire lives to serve God and people. They sacrificed marrying and having families and worldly success and pleasure – for their entire lives. That’s extreme. And there are so many other wonderful brothers and sisters that have committed their lives to serving Christ and one another.

I am in prison and serving. I’m thankful that I can do so. Do you think we should be Extreme Lovers of Christ? I do. One thing is for sure: you can never out-love Him.


Read John Harvey's responses to the innovative course—
The Psychology of Incarceration;
Criminogenic Needs Domains

Transformational Needs Domains.

What are Criminogenic Needs Domains? — Read John Harvey's Response

What are Transformational Needs Domains? — Read John Harvey's Response