By J.B. Chambliss
When I read the account of Jesus’ interaction as a guest in the house of a Pharisee named Simon, recorded in the book of Luke 7:36-50, I personally identify with Simon in his experience. I have been “forgiven…much.” I know there is nothing I can do to repay the Lord for the abundant, long-suffering love he has manifested towards me, first through his mercy and forgiveness for my past sins and for his power in my life that redeems my present course and future choices (Philippians 4:13). However, this is only possible as I daily chose to seek him with my whole heart and strive to put those I love first in my life by putting him first in all things.
There is no testimony like a life transformed by God’s grace. I know the one who knows me the best also loves me the most. This is my testimony, a witness of God’s faithfulness as it has been demonstrated in my life. The following synopsis is intended to give some context and perspective regarding events preceding my second arrest in Nashville, which resulted in my first time being incarcerated and the true freedom I have found in Christ as my personal savior.
On Mar. 21, 2014, I turned myself into the Nashville Metro County Police Department for what ended up being two counts of aggravated assault on my father. This was my first arrest, and where I would like to begin my story. For these charges, I spent almost a month in jail waiting to go to court, and then I was released on one-year probation that November. It was during this time, after my release, and while still on probation, that I caught new charges that would eventually lead to my second arrest in Nashville, and later my conviction on one count of aggravated sexual assault.
On Oct. 22, 2014, I was picked up by Rutherford County Police and taken to the Murfreesboro county jail, better known as “940,” where I spent the next 10 months before being classified and transferred to prison. This was my second arrest. About one month later I was given a night vision by God that would transform the entire course of my life from that point forward. Over the remaining nine months spent in the county jail, I studied God’s word intensely, and through the biblical symbols employed in the vision, God revealed the dream’s meaning, which is what led me to the writings of a woman named E.G. White, co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and convicted me of the call I believe God placed on my life. Next, in the early morning hours of July 3, 2015, not long after I accepted the DA’s offer and received my sentence of nine years at 100 percent, I was visited by an angelic being while alone in my jail cell. Finally, about two months after that, I was transferred to classification, where the state decides the “time building facility” where offenders are placed.
From Murfreesboro I was transferred to Bledsoe Correctional Complex (BCCX) in Pikeville, also known as classification, because, in addition to being a prison starting in 2013, BCCX is where all incoming Tennessee Department of Corrections inmates were sent before being dispatched throughout the prison system. After five weeks in classification at BCCX I was sent to Deberry Special Needs Facility in Nashville as a staff worker, which is the only prison-hospital in Tennessee, and where I was assigned to serve out the remainder of my sentence.
While I could try to blame others for the downward spiral that took place in my life following the events of my first arrest, that’s not my story. No matter what happens, or the reasons behind the choices we make, they are still our choices to make. In the end, we must all bear the eternal penalty for our own sins, or accept the righteousness of Christ in our place and God’s free gift of salvation.