Starr Daily—Love Can Open Prison Doors—CFO Talk
Camps Farthest Out Message
This is the transcript to a talk given by Starr Daily at a CFO camp. We don’t know the date of the talk, but we do know that the book wrote, Love Can Open Prison Doors, was published in 1934 by DeVorss & Co.
In this talk, Starr Daily talks about receiving $20 from an unknown company in Los Angeles in December 1933. For many years Doug DeVorss had run Unity’s book publishing business when he left to start out on his own. In December 1933 the company was located in Los Angeles. We don’t know it it was Doug DeVorss who had sent the $20, but it does seem that Unity and DeVorss collaborated with Starr Daily as he got it start as a writer. Go here for a PDF of that original edition of Love Can Open Prison Doors.
When we’re in union to Jesus, we are beyond the realm of self-defense. When we’re in union with Jesus, our excuses for failure are gone. We never defend ourselves against anybody, because Jesus never defends himself and never has any excuse for failure because he’s never failed.
Down here in the world, we have to have reasons or causes, seemingly causes they call them, causes for failure. But in Jesus, there is no cause, there’s only a reason. When the disciples ask who was born blind, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind, he said there isn’t any cause. There’s only a purpose for it, and the purpose is to illustrate the power of God, and he healed him.
It is impossible to live on the outside of Jesus without having alibis and excuses for failure. It is impossible to live outside of Jesus without defending your reputation, your integrity so called, and your honor. But Jesus has no reputation, has no honor in his own hometown, and he has no self-defense. A part of the cross he wants us to bear is the kind of cross he bore that wasn’t connected with his crucifixion. He said in Gethsemane that he was willing to do the Father’s will and be crucified, but it is quite obvious to me that there were a lot of things that happened after he got on the cross that wasn’t in the business of crucifixion at all.
The insults that they heaped upon him, they slapped his face, they mocked him, they abused him, they kicked him, they gave him vinegar. Man, if he had been human like we are, he would have said, “Father, this doesn’t belong to crucifixion. I’m willing to be crucified, but not this. And you should not allow this to happen. Just let me be crucified. It isn’t a part of the cross at all. It’s foreign to the cross.” But he didn’t say that. He accepted everything that they did to him and forgave them.
Anything that you have merited is not a cross, simply the law of cause and effect in operation, cause and consequence. “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” That isn’t the cross. That’s something we have coming.
But every one of you has a cross. You have been persecuted. You have been abused. You have been talked about. You have been insulted. You’ve been slighted. You’ve been hurt by people whom you have never done anything against at all. If you get very close to Jesus, this will happen.
Your old orbit of friends will not like it, and they will say all manner of things against you. They will hurt you in every way they can. They will criticize you, and condemn you, and mentally and verbally crucify you. If you react against that and try to defend yourself against it, you’re outside of Jesus. There is no defense. If you take that cross and handle it rightly, you will simply accept everything that everybody does to you, good, bad, and indifferent, and forgive them and bless them, just as he did.
Now, during the long years that I was in crime, I had an excuse and would change the excuses, and alibis, and justifications every so often. I scoured all the books on criminology, psychology, and psychiatry looking for excuses and nothing else. When I would find a good excuse for the life I was living, I would accept that until it got old and dry and bored me, and I’d turn it loose and get a new one.
There is no way to just any life, any kind of a life outside of Jesus without justifying it with alibis and excuses. You must defend yourself against other people and circumstances and conditions, and refuse to carry the cross.
Now, I’m going to tell you about an excuse I used and have used in recent years, but I know it’s as false as the beard of Hercules. When I was about five years old, I think I was about as sinless as anyone could be at that age. I lived perpetually in the atmosphere and love and presence of Jesus. He was a very constant companion to me, especially at night. I had contact with the angelic kingdom. I had playmates that no one else could see. In other words, I think I was very receptive and responsive to spiritual things.
Then my step-mother took me to her church, which was a branch, one of these small churches, it was a branch off of my own church. They had a preacher there who was about six feet and half tall. His pant legs came up over his button shoe tops. His coat sleeves were way up there. He wore a huge celluloid collar. He had an enormous Adam’s apple. The picture of that man is as vividly impressed on my mind today as it was then. That Adam’s apple went up and down.
He talked on hell and sin. He described hell as a box canyon without any bottom in it, and all the people who had ever been on Earth before Jesus was in there, and all the sinners after Jesus, all were in there. They were screeching, and screaming, and squirming, and digging trying to get out of that place, and no one could get out, and they were there for everlasting to everlasting.
I didn’t know how to put observations into language then, but if I were to hear that now, I would simply say that that man knew what he was talking about. He couldn’t have described hell so perfectly, and clearly, and more vividly unless he had had tremendous experience in hell.
I went in there without any fears and went out with four fears. They were all phobias, every one of them. First, I was afraid of death. Second, I was afraid of the dark. He described this thing as a great dark, no light there. Third, I was afraid of being locked in and no way to get out. People trying to claw their way out. Fifth, I went in there without any sin consciousness whatever, and came out with nothing but the consciousness of sin and fear of it.
These fears stuck with me, and I couldn’t share them with anyone. Because when you have this kind of a fear, you do not share it because you’ve got a greater fear, and that is the fear of being ridiculed for your fears. You lock it inside and keep it. Eventually, it has to break out somewhere or other.
I was about eight years of age, and I couldn’t stand this any longer and I went to facing unconsciously, I began to face these fears. I was afraid of death, and I began to take up a life where death was everywhere. Over here the gallows, the electric chair, behind me the police bullets, and in front of me around the corner my own compatriots in Christ. Dead everywhere. I could anticipate it.
I was afraid of the dark, so I began to prowl in the dark and sleep in the daytime with one eye open. Afraid of being locked in, so I spent 14 years of my life locked in. All the time I held these fears, a craving, whimpering, whining coward. Yet, wore a mask, a false mask, a false face, and carried around an atmosphere of bravado, bad actor, all these things that men inside of penal institutions try to assume and put on, and yet was a coward.
I would sweat it out some nights till two and three o’clock in the morning, locked in and imagining every conceivable kind of a thing that might happen, blood, and fire, and earthquake and everything else, and no way to get out. Not go to sleep until I was utterly exhausted, and couldn’t tell anyone. Couldn’t share it with anyone. Must wear this false face. Must put up this false front of courage that didn’t exist.
I was afraid of sin, and I faced every sin in the decalogue of sin and went all out. If I missed any sins, I don’t know what they possibly could be. I have said, and perhaps it is true from a worldly point of view, that because this man preached that sermon to a susceptible and impressionable and unguarded mind, these fears were planted in my subconscious and in my nervous system. Because of that, I became a criminal.
From a world point of view, that could be true, but from a point of view of Jesus, it’s an alibi. It’s an excuse. It isn’t a justification. It is a product of tawdry self-defense. For in him, there is no self-defense, there is no excuse for failure, and there is absolutely no alibi whatever for anything. It is the nature, failure. But that was what happened.
Now, let me say this, that facing these fears did not relieve them. There are certain fears which only the love of God can cast out. Some fears we can get rid of, but I do not believe there is any science, or any medicine, or any tranquilizing pills, or anything else that can cure a phobia, that is an exaggerated psychic fear. When you get in the grip of a fear of that kind, there is no use thinking you can get rid of it simply by facing it. It can’t be done. If that could’ve been done, then I faced these things for 25 years, and instead of getting better, they got worse.
Then this brought me, finally, into solitary confinement, which is the best place to be. For we die alone, and when we meet Jesus, we’ll meet him alone. You can be surrounded with people, people everywhere, but when you meet him, it will be in solitude. When we die daily, as Paul did, it will be alone.
I was in a literal solitary confinement and had been tortured for weeks until my body was emaciated, nothing left but skin and bones, and in all that time had never had any sanitation. The place was full of lice, and it was also full of rats, and it was full of cockroaches and all kinds of vermin carrying things, germ carrying things. It was wet. The ceiling dripped and the walls were full of frost.
I had an old ragged jumper and a pair of overalls that other men had worn in there and had never been laundered. The exercise of bodily functions had to be done right there. No sanitation. During the day, I was hung up in rings in the back of that cell till the balls of my feet barely touched the floor for 12 hours. Then after the 12-hour shift, I’d be let down and given a chunk of bread and some water.
That went on and on until the last week a doctor began to test the heart every day. He would say, “He can stand one more day.” My legs were swollen and black and blue. The veins in them were swollen out like whipcord, the arteries, and were black and blue. The arms, the skeleton arms, the veins in them and arteries were puffed out and filled a kind of a congealed blood. The bottom of my feet, the soles of my feet were puffed like great black tumors, and they were filled with this black blood.
Finally, one day he tested my heart. Now, the heart was trying to pump blood out into these dead members. The arms were dead. The legs were dead. He tested my heart and he said, “He can’t take another day. Let him down.” They took the cuffs off, and I collapsed like an empty sack onto that concrete floor, and there I lay.
That is where I met the Redeemer. I had nothing left but the will to hate. Particularly did I hate that deputy warden, for he had said to me when he put me in there, “When I let you out, it will because you crawl to me on your belly like a snake and drag yourself up here to this door and whine and beg to me to let you out. When you do that and you admit your guilt, I’ll let you out, but not before. In the meantime, I have a wife and two wonderful children, and we’ll be sleeping in a good, warm bed. We will be eating good, warm food. I want you to know that I have no use for you.”
Well, it was my will against his, and I had the will to hate. He had the will to hate. Here were two wills locked, both the will to hate. I know that two things in the world work, hate and love. They never failed. That which is in between always fails, but hate succeeds to destroy the hater, and love succeeds in restoring the lover.
These two things worked. My will was the only thing I had left was the will to hate, and I was afraid that might break. Suppose that will broke and I actually dragged myself like a wounded dog up there and actually begged that man to let me out? I would rather die 1,000 deaths than to do that.
But I didn’t have to, because my will broke. When it broke, I went off into a dreamy, hysterical state, just like a nebulous, floating, fluid dream. I just floated around.
Then I became aware that something was happening at the door, and my head turned like that toward the door and the door took the form of a great rock. Then I was aware that a figure was moving through that rock, right through and came, walked into that cell, that dungeon, and came up close. I turned over on my back, and he stepped right up close over my face and looked down. He drew my eyes right straight up to his, and he let me look at compassion.
It was the first time in all those years that I had ever seen love. There was no great power, no great manifestation of spiritual gifts. He just stood up over me and looked down and drew my eyes up to his and let me see love. In that way, he baptized me with compassion. There was no condemnation, and so I know now and from the day of that experience I have known that any ministry of condemnation is of the devil. Any ministry of rebuke of other religions, of other people’s faith, any ministry that judges and condemns, a human being is judged and condemned is of the devil.
For the only thing that Jesus has is indescribable, limitless, unimaginable love. He did not criticize me, nor condemn me, nor say, “You’ve made your bed. Now lie in it.” None of that. None of that. Anybody that tells me about some God that is not love, the knower within me never bears witness. Whenever there is a remark or some kind of an invited testimony that talks about God as being anything but love, the spirit within me will not witness to that. It’s a lie.
The only way we can ever know the truth is by our personal spirit, the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our personal spirit that this is true, and you can’t make a mistake. You cannot make a mistake. I have never had my personal spirit and the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me when a lie is said, that it wasn’t quiet. Nothing. Because whenever the truth is spoken, I know it, and so do you. You know it.
He just looked down and baptized me. It was as gentle as a Hawaiian rain. Just came down. It went into every bone and all those sore, broken nerves and all those muscles and cells. That poor emaciated form of a skeleton, went into every bit of it.
From the worldly point of view, the most able authorities in the United States had declared me to be hopelessly incurable, a psychopathic criminal, and bordering on psychotic. Not a psychotic, but bordering on it. I was on the record as hopelessly incurable. Everything that society knew how to do, they had done to try to correct me, and it had not been done.
Jesus did in just a moment or two what society had failed to do in a quarter of a century. One minute I was lying there, that hopeless incurable, utterly gone. Conscious dead, practically no life left in the soul, the light of the spirit out, a living corpse. One minute that, and the next minute free, cured, healed. The spirit quickened. The conscience resensitized. Life pumped into that dead soul. It wasn’t a healing. It was a resurrection.
Well, how did that happen? I was hating God. I was an atheist. I wasn’t living a godly life. I was living just the opposite. I think it was because of the prayers of my father. When I had gotten out of prison just before this time that I was in, father had worked hard. In fact, he spent a sizable fortune trying to keep my out of trouble, just as parents do now, and I always failed him.
This time, he had worked very hard, gotten lawyers and he’d got my time cut and it got me out. He’d come to the prison to receive me, and on the way he was taking me home where I was born. On the way, he told me about my birth and about my mother. He said, “You’re life cost your mother’s life.” Pasteur in those days didn’t have this wonderful works perfected, and many mothers died in childbirth of bed fever, and mine was one of them. My light came in and hers went out.
He told me about that, and he said, “On her deathbed she extracted a promise from me that I would do everything in my power to see that you had a chance. I have tried to keep that promise, and I’ve failed. Sometimes I think I failed because when I was 17 years of age, I was called to the Methodist ministry and rejected the call after finishing about half my training.”
He said, “I’ve never been happy. I’ve never had a happy day. I’ve tried all kinds of substitutes for happiness.” He said, “I have followed Darwin and his evolutionary theories, seeking satisfaction in that. I have been a student of Huxley, Hegel, and all of the other fine philosophers, materialists. I have been a student of Brann, the iconoclast, and I’ve tried to find a reason for the type of life I’ve been living, but I’ve never been happy.” But he said, “I’ve always prayed for you,” and he had.
As he talked, I was thinking about the next crime I would commit. I went into that little town of my birth and there committed one of the chiefest burglaries I had ever committed. I was caught red-handed. The shame and disgrace came down upon my sister, her husband, and her three little children. I was in jail again.
As soon as he heard it, father was there to see me. He couldn’t trust himself to speak. He just put his hands through the bars and held mine. It actually seemed to me that his hands withered in mine. Mine were as cold as ice. His were as hot as fire. He just held my ice cold hands, and it just seemed that his were withering. His shoulders in just those hours, his shoulders and chest, his shoulders had broken in and his chest had caved in.
His face was a mask of pain. I looked, could see his eyes and his face, and his eyes were simply nothing but pools of suffering. Just suffering. I didn’t know of course, but I know now that I stood right square in front of crucifixion. I had crucified my father.
Not one word of criticism had he talked to me. No condemnation. Nothing but a mute, inarticulate love and faith. Then he went off, all bent over.
The brief trial was no trial at all. It was simply entering a plea, guilty. He sat beside me and the courtroom was filled full of curiosity, people. He sat there beside me and here were all these people, and their vulgar scrutiny was focused on him. I know that they were just condemning me and thinking of him in maudlin pity. He had to go through that embarrassment and that humiliation.
He went to the train when the sheriff was taking me back, clear to the train. He went as far as he could go. On the depot platform, he said, “Son, I won’t see you anymore. I am going to join your mother, and we shall pray together that somehow, someway, in some mysterious, wonderful way of God you will be reached and your mother’s hopes in you will be fulfilled. For she believed on her deathbed that her death was a sacrifice and in it was a destiny for you. We shall pray.”
I felt sorry for father. After telling me he had read these wonderful philosophers and people of that kind, an intelligent man, an educated man, and is standing there talking to me about, “I’m going over there.” Over where? Going over there to join your mother. I thought, how in the world can a man who has had the advantages that he has had could be so utterly superstitious as to conceive of something out there in the air over there? I left him on that note.
A few days later, he was admitted to the hospital. The will to live was gone. The will to live had died. It died there on that depot platform. The crucifixion took place standing in front of my cell and I crucified him, and the death sentence was completed. The will to live was killed on the depot platform. He was admitted to the hospital, and he called for a calendar on the wall. A nurse gave it to him, and on the back of the calendar, he wrote his obituary remarks for his lodge and he wrote the final letter to me.
The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in literature. It’s faded, and yellow, and brittle now, but it is the most choice document that I’ll ever own. He didn’t finish it. His pencil dropped from his hand before it was finished, and he went on to mother, and I went on to prison.
I believe that after he got over there and his prayers were released from the limitations in human love that he had here, although his love was a tremendously high type of human love. It had no criticism and it, no judgment, no condemnation of any kind, nothing but faith in love, but it was human. I think that when he left, his spirit went over there to join mother, that all of the limitations of his prayers down here were released and he could pray with infinite power. For it was after that, and shortly after that, that I had this experience.
Not hard for me to use my imagination, though I certainly wouldn’t say this is so, but I could think that Jesus came up to him over here and said something like this. “John, he sure did have a hard time with that boy. He sure put you through the mill. But oh, how faithful you were. You never let the backbone of my love break. Now I’m going to show you a miracle. Just watch. They’ve never built a wall high enough to keep me out or bars hard enough to keep me out.”
With my vivid imagination, I can imagine that father was looking, saw the whole thing. He came down, and he fulfilled my mother’s deathbed dream and he fulfilled my father’s prayers.
I know that if I fail, I will add, I will compound failure if I excuse it. I know that if I go on my own guidance, I will separate myself from the source of truth, and I’m always doing it. But for many years, I haven’t done it. I never make an invitation. I used to, and it’s the most boresome thing that you can do.
If you act by the system of contacts here on Earth and you can’t get any place without contacting So-and-so and So-and-so and So-and-so and So-and-so, it simply wears you out. There is one contact man that never fails, and that’s Jesus.
For many years, I have stopped making invitations. A minister told me in El Paso, he said, “I have always gone without being invited to my people’s homes.” He said, “I have known that there was something wrong with it. I have gone in when they didn’t want me, and I’ve felt the atmosphere of resistance and resentment. Now,” he said, “I go when they invite me, and I go and my love is accepted. My words are accepted. My prayers are accepted, and I’m free.”
Just wait until you receive the invitation and act. That’s divine guidance. Then say yes to it, and say it so fast you can’t change your mind to regret it later. Say yes quickly.
The way it comes to me is a green light, a yellow light, a red light. If the light is green, I say yes. If it’s yellow, I wait. If it’s red, I forget it. Make no invitations, but accept the invitations. That represents the green light. Say yes quickly and then go and you’ll be embarrassed. You’ll have to have his courage to carry through on some of it.
Over in Canada, Victoria, they said, “Will you go to the children’s group?” I said yes. Then I sweated it out. I didn’t know what on Earth I was doing with that children’s group, and it was some group. But we had a good time. We broadcast love. We made a broadcasting station and broadcast love. But I worried about that. I won’t say worried. I just sweated. Say yes if the light is green, and then step out on the little bit of courage of God, and he’ll never fail to give you enough to go through with it.
I think one of the most terrible situations I ever got into was saying yes to an invitation to speak in Baylor University down in Texas. I always have great misgivings about this, these colleges and universities. I keep praying and have prayed that God won’t get me in this kind of crack. I get terribly inferior, inadequate. My little old five grades and all that egghead stuff in those places, I just feel terrible.
Once you say yes, you have to go, and I said yes to this one. Boy, I’m telling you, I lived emotionally 1,000 years before that thing was over. Got there and discovered it was a Baptist university and that they didn’t know I was the one. Didn’t even know who invited me. The president, who’s a cowboy, at least he had a 10 gallon hat on that morning. Pat Neff, he’s gone now, wonderful man.
I went up the steps. I saw him standing up there, that huge hat, and went up toward it. The students were coming and he was full of enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of a 20-year-old. He turned to me and he said, “Look at that. Students coming. Isn’t that a sight?” I said, “It sure is.”
He said, “By the way, we have a guest speaker here this morning. Wonder who he is.” I knew I had to get my grammar right on this one, so I said, “I am he.” Because everything in me wanted me to say, “I am him.” I think my stocks went up a little on that. I emphasized, “I am he.”
He said, “Well, who sent you here?” “Well,” I said, “Mister Miller.” He said, “Mister Miller?” By the way, I think Mister Miller is a Methodist. No, I guess he’s a Baptist. No, I think he’s a Baptist. He said, “I don’t believe I know him. What does he do?” “Well,” I said, “He has soda pops. He has soda pop. He has an agency here.”
He says, “Of course, we’re on the air, and I imagine you have your script.” I said, “No, I don’t. I didn’t now you had to have that.” He said, “Are you a Baptist?” I said, “No. No, I am not. No.” “Well,” he said, “This is a Baptist university.” I said, “I’ve read where you have great celebrities come here who are not Baptists.” I guess President Truman’s a Baptist and he spoke there after I did.
He said, “You’ve got to have a script,” but I didn’t have one. Finally, I think out of desperation, he said, “Well, come on. Let’s go.” I went on and gave a talk. I talk on koinonia. That was when it was first I was trying to recruit students.
A student told me that Pat Neff got up and made a talk after mine, a very favorable talk. A student told me that’s the first time he had done that since he had been there in that university. He took me to his Browning room, and he was an authority on Browning. They said that was a rare thing for him to take anyone to the Browning room. He talked. Oh my, he just made Browning live and had lunch with me. We fellowshipped there for about four hours.
Say yes, and then sweat it out, and then do it. You won’t get rid of your timidity, but you’ll get enough power to so it. I don’t think you ought to pray for courage, because the more you pray for it, the less you get. I think to pray for courage is an action prayer. You step out on the little courage you have and you discover that God gives you just enough, just enough every step to do the thing. He doesn’t give you much more, but he gives you enough to take you through.
It’s the same with patience you’re talking about. I think if you step out on patience and exercise patience, you’ll grow it in, but I don’t believe you’ll grow in it by sitting down in a corner and praying for it. I think all virtues should be acted upon. Pray for the things you can’t do and do the things you can do. As you act upon these virtues, that’s actually prayer. Saint Paul would put it, be acting in love. Walk in love. These virtues grow as you exercise them and not as you sit down and pray for them.
I have had on the outside some terrific temptations, and many of them have been yielded to. On Christmas 1933, yeah 1933, my wife and I had no money. It was a week before Christmas. We had 35 cents. We had about a half a box of oatmeal. We had some potatoes, and we had four loaves of three day old bread we’d given a dime for, and some carrots. That’s all we had to look forward to. We had a little girl, 10 years old, to get Christmas for, and we had 35 cents.
We walked about two miles and a half to the shopping center and the 10 cent store, and she lost a dime of the 35 cents. We bought a quarter’s worth of little trinkets. We went out and got a tree of our own, a little tree. We had no lights, or trimmings, or anything. We just put colored paper around on it.
About three days before Christmas, an envelope came to us in the mail and there was a $20 bill in it torn half in two. It was wrapped in a piece of carbon copy second paper, yellow paper. With no address and it was mailed at a station down in Los Angeles, post office, no address.
That got us through Christmas, and then I decided we had no money to pay rent. The rent wasn’t due. We had no money to pay for our utilities, and I was tempted to do what I knew I could do, and that was to write for the greeting card companies and get quick money and to write for the newspaper syndicates that syndicated these short, short stories, 1,000 words long. I knew I could do that, and I did do it.
I wrote for those greeting card companies and got money in regular. They’d almost every day pay our bills. I kept writing for these newspaper syndicates these short, short stories and getting more money, and I didn’t know that I was losing interest in God. The more I succeeded in this fiction writing and these greeting card verses, the less time I was giving to God.
I finally wound up by writing anywhere from five to 10 of those 1,000 word stories a day and selling every one of them. I was sending out these greeting cards, 10 in a package, sending them out sometimes 40 to 50 at a time to different greeting card companies. I was so tangled up and tied up in this and got so enthusiastic about it, I even stopped praying, and I didn’t know it. I didn’t know I was losing my contact with God. I was simply bound up in this worldly thing.
This didn’t stop until my wife and I were helping a lady bring a load of furniture down from up in the San Joaquin Valley to her cabin up in the San Bernardino mountains. Had an old, homemade floor trailer behind, and all the way down those tires kept blowing out. My wife kept patching them with 10 cent store glue, and I kept jacking the thing up till my back was broken and putting them on again. Go about five miles and pop would go another one.
We rode all night that way. I was just simply worn out. The woman caught cold, and her nose was running, almost half hysterical. The next morning, we got going up that main highway 19 or 66 to San Bernardino. This old furniture, she was just tearing along, and a casing came off of the trailer and it went flying past. She began to laugh hysterically, and that old trailer was going like this, and the car was going. She said, “Get to the curb and stop.” She just laughed and wasn’t even looking at the road.
That casing went up and hit a shoulder and make a right hand turn. My wife and I went up to look after it. It went way down a road called Banana Avenue. We saw it leaning up against the culvert. We got there and behind where it was leaning, someone had written in black paint, had drawn these letters, “Seek ye the Lord this day.”
We had to go over that mountain, and at that time it was terrible. Called it the rim of the worlds. 1,500, 2,000 feet down. This woman, neither one of us could drive, and she was wilder than a reindeer. This woman, neither one of us could drive, and she was wilder than a reindeer. I said to my wife, “I wonder what that means.” She said, “I think it means just what it says. Seek ye the Lord this day.”
I said, “You mean we ought to pray?” I’d forgotten how to pray. Too busy. She said yes, and we prayed, and I bargained with God. My prayer was a very simple, little bargaining prayer. I said to him that I promised him that if he would get us over that mountain to her cabin and get that furniture out that I would start writing the things that I know that he wanted me to write.
She pulled it over that mountain with no further blowouts, unloaded it, drove the trailer down to her big cabin, trash flying, had a garage clear under the house, and pulled it in and turned the ignition off, and every tire on the trailer blew out. The woman just screamed in hysterics, but my wife and I were very sober. I said, “It seems to me that God accepted the challenge, the bargain, and has put a period on it.”
That went down, and I sat under a fig tree with a typewriter on an orange tree, and I draped our black cat over my shoulders, and I wrote the book Love Can Open Prison Doors. My friends in Hollywood tried to persuade me not to do it. “For God’s sake, don’t get yourself tangled up in religious writing. You’ll starve to death.” I had made a bargain. Both of them were making plenty of money, and they wanted me to go on and develop into the field that they were in. I said, “No. I said I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do it. I don’t care if we do starve to death.”
I hammered that book out in about eight days, and it was published in ‘34 and it has never been out of print a day since. If ever a book has been blessed, it’s that book. it is said by many prison wardens that I know and prison authorities that it’s had more influence in the penal institutions of the United States and Great Britain and now in Italy than any other book that’s ever been in a prison.
The Labor government in England bought it, and that was a precedent. They’d never done anything like that. When the Labor government was it, they bought that book, I think 200 or 300 copies, and put it in British prisons. It was bought by the federal prison system in this country and distributed, and the prison system in Japan is just saturated with it. It’s in the library of every Japanese prison in Japanese translation.
God has blessed it beyond all measures. That’s a long time for a religious book to stay in print, a long time. But that’s the way it goes. It’s not a phenomenal seller, but it just keeps going steadily on and on and on.
I think, by the way, these two men who tried to persuade me not to do this, one died broke. He produced one biography of a Hollywood celebrity that he sold for $200,000. Made lots of money. The other one made lots of money writing for the movies and also for the radio. A tremendous contract once with Wrigley running way up into the hundreds of thousands. One died broke and the other was dragged up before a non-American Senate committee and took the Fifth Amendment and was blackballed, and I don’t suppose he’s ever sold anything to anybody since, unless he’s done it under an assumed name.
This book they didn’t want me to write has just gone on and on and on and on just steadily. They call it a staple product. God blessed it. I believe that he will bless anything that we do when we make up our mind to do it, we’re determined to do it, and say yes to it, and then do it. Then I know that he will give us the power, and the courage, and the stamina to do it, and he will bless it.
I’ve seen this blessing of his so many times where I have said yes and then gone ahead when I really didn’t want to do it, felt inadequate to do it and inferior to do it, and unable to do it. Yet, that green light was there, the invitation given, yes, and then just step out on what little intelligence, and faith, and power I had. Always see it through and every time, my experience, there has been a special blessing.
If you feel a sense of shyness, if you feel timid, and if you feel frightened in the presence of large numbers of people, or if you’re frightened by people who seemingly have had more advantage in life than you have had, I say don’t pay any attention to it. If you get the invitation to witness, you’re called upon to witness, and the green light is there, say yes to it. Then no matter how you shake, and shiver, and sweat, step out on it and do it, and God will give you the power to carry it through.
Well, I want to thank all of you for the wonderful friendliness and love you have given me this week. I think this camp has been poised. There hasn’t been any great, overwhelming, emotional excitement here. It has been a kind of a tranquil camp. It’s been very stable. It’s had a sort of an even mind, and it has had an enormous amount of redemptive love flowing through it. I know that a great deal of that has been due to the fact that all of you have come into this power without even knowing it.
You have had no condemnation to speak of. If you have, no one has noticed it and it’s been assimilated. Your criticism has gone. Doubts have pretty well faded out. You haven’t inquired into each other’s theology, and doctrine, and rituals, church. You have just lived and moved and had your being in the love of Christ, and it’s been a great joy to have had the privilege of participating in this power, and this influence, and this atmosphere with you.
Another thing that’s blessed me is to be with Marsha and Roland again. It has been too long, too long. I was with Marsha this spring, but it’s been too long since I’ve been with Roland. I have been thrilled at his messages here. He’s been giving right straight down the center. That knower within, always when he’s been talking, “Yes, yes, yes, yes.” That knower within bears witness to a thing when it’s authentic and true. If he didn’t give me anything but that powerful talk on the Holy Spirit, that would be worth my going 1,000 miles to hear it.
I’ve been edified. I know that Marsha and Roland have been edified and blessed beyond measure, and I want to thank each and every one of you. I want to thank the council ring to extended to me the kind invitation to be with you. Now, let us pray and close.
Our Heavenly Father, we are aware of many mysteries in one of these camps. With our little minds and limited means of understanding, we cannot possibly comprehend what you are doing in these camps, in this camp. It is done so naturally and so secretly that we are not even allowed to be aware of it, Father, and maybe that’s the way it should be. Yet, when we come to the sharing period and begin to think about it, suddenly we realize that you have been working among us in a mysterious and wonderful way.
Now, we are going home, back to our busy everyday lives. Father, we would like to have had from you to prevent us from entering into resentment against other people, and if we do, we would ask thee to give us the power and the willingness to reject that immediately. We would ask for the power and capacity to supplant any rising anger with an inflow of thy love.
Help us, Father, when we meet the temptations where we are going, and we’re in competition with so many people, and we’re going where negative thinking is the rule rather than the exception, and where friction between individuals, and groups, and in businesses, and in offices, and work is prevalent. Help us to remain poised, and serene, and tranquil, resting our whole being in thy love and trusting thee to help us to do what we ought to do, to go where we ought to go and to be what we ought to be. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.