On Two Occasions He Prayed for Death
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“On two occasions, I prayed for death,” remembered Josh Kezer, “not because I was hopeless, but because I just, I gotten tired. I didn't wanna wake up another day in prison.”
Josh Kezer spent 16 years in prison - for a murder he didn’t commit. He said, “I was convicted without DNA, blood type, fingerprint, palm print weapon, a paper trail, any connection to the victim and any legitimate motive presented in my trial.”
False testimony from jailhouse snitches looking for lighter sentences and a fabricated testimony from a friend of the murdered girl were enough to convince a jury Josh was the killer. He said, “Dealing with the conflict in my own heart about the lies that were told about me has been like a long wrestling match with God, and with the world, and with myself. I feel like I'm still in that match. Like its, its never ended. I have to focus on God's narrative of my life more than the other narratives and what He says about me, who I am in the eyes of my Father in heaven, who I am in Christ.”
Before his trial, Josh surrendered his life to Christ - his spiritual renewal was the one thing that carried him through the years of injustice during his time behind bars. “The Lord took the anger out of my heart, but it required, that taking required surrender on my part, it required me handing that over to the Lord. And then He took it from me,” said Josh.
Josh also wrestled with the decision to forgive those responsible for his incarceration. “To really be free in prison for a crime you didn't commit. You have to address forgiveness.” He said, “I know that forgiveness of my sins, when, when Christ forgives me, He restores me, I'm given a, a plan and a purpose and an opportunity to start over every day. Forgiveness is meant to be a gift. Do we, do we give that gift that God gave us? Or do we hold onto our anger and our rage? It's willing to, to hand your enemies, to gift to your enemies, something that Christ gave us and I took it into my prayer closet, and I wrestled with God, and I allowed Him to do whatever He had to do in my life to let that go or to take it from me so that I can show these men the love of Christ.”
While being set free from anger and unforgiveness, he would eventually be set free physically. At a new hearing Josh was given an ‘actual innocence’ ruling that went beyond ‘not guilty.’ He was set free. Redeemed. Josh recalled, “Even in the darkest, most horrific evil prisons, God can reach down and He can change a man, and He can use him. The old man, the old Josh has passed away. The new man is alive in Christ.”
In the book he co-wrote with his lawyer, ‘The Murder of Angela Michelle Lawless – an honest sheriff and the exoneration of an innocent man,’ Josh hopes the power of God demonstrated in his life points others to Christ. He said, “As angry, as...as, as I might feel in my lower moments, it's in those God moments that I'm sharing with other people, that I'm thankful for my life, that I'm thankful for my past and the...the, the trials and the difficulties I've, that I've went through. It's from that place. It's from that desolation and destruction that God made me the man that I am. This story offered me an opportunity and offers me an opportunity to share Christ in a much more powerful and, um, wider range than I could ever have imagined or dreamed and a case that had, that has so much darkness. It's the only light that shines is the forgiveness of Christ that He's demonstrated through me for others. I want them to, I so want people to know Jesus, man. That’s it. That’s it. There's nothing that God can't change and redeem. And that He does that through the crucifixion and the resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ."
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