On Thursday Vincent Simmons will be 70 years old. After almost 45 years incarcerated, he was released last evening, walking out of jail a free man!
The judge ruled Mr. Simmons had not received a fair trial when he had been sentenced to 100 years for aggravated rape in 1977. There had been long known evidence that was not heard in the original case over which he had made countless appeals down the years, but to no avail …until now. The leg irons were removed there in court yesterday …but were replaced when the proceedings were concluded. He was once again taken into custody and driven the 2 hours back to prison in Louisiana where the compulsory paperwork was completed before his freedom could be deemed official! Sometimes even what appears to be the end of the battle is not quite the end.
This all seems extraordinary, doesn’t it? What a tragedy for this man! Who can ever know or appreciate all he has gone through. Guilty or not his long confinement has taken up over half of his life. Any recompense for that time will be another battle in court should he pursue it. And what about the victims, the 14 year old twin girls, just children when assaulted? What have they been through? Ladies now, they too have been tethered to this life event for the equal amount of time. Chains are not always on our ankles. Both
parties have suffered greatly for years and years and years.
Interestingly, there was also the decision yesterday not to re-try Mr. Simmons. Over 40 years was deemed enough. The sisters were also heard saying something similar as they left the courtroom. Surely exhausted by the battle, it is time to let it go both sides stated.
To fight so long for something takes diamond strength resolve! It requires an unwavering stance, fortitude and tenacity-a never ever give up attitude. Seniors have fought many battles in life. Over the years the enemy rages against us and at times it seems impossible to go on. It may be a relationship that cannot be resolved no matter what we do. It may be diminished finances that are never enough. It may be an injustice from long ago that we just can’t let go. It may be an illness that we simply cannot fight another day. Whatever it is, hang on! Mr. Simmons must have been devastated after he lost his first appeal years ago…but he fought on to try and try again!
Battles are blessings! They grow us up! They can liberate us! Yes, they are hard, really hard, but they can push us on to the next level if we let them. Never let a battle define you. Use it as a tool to drive you forward. Battles can even bring new life!
-force us to reassess
-change our course
-change our behaviour
-change our perspective
-change our attitude
-can be inspirational
-build fortitude, wisdom, peace, resilience…
Battles cannot destroy you if your faith is aligned with God. Pause-Ask the Lord what he wants to teach you through the battle. Ask him to open your eyes and your heart to the lesson.
“He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me…” Psalm 55:18
“They will fight against you but they will not overcome you for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:19
I know some of you reading this are weak and exhausted. The mental price of the long battle has taken its toll. It may feel like loneliness and isolation envelope you… but look to God. He is right there beside you. The strength of youth may have waned over the years….but God is always present, always available, and always working! Trust him in the battle and never ever quit!