The Zoo Cage Prophet

Roller Coaster

It's just unreliable. There is absolutely no pattern to it. The day or the hour doesn't determine when it's hot, cold, or warm. To rely on such a system is nonsense. It's too much work to keep up, so we just quit trying.

Ad Seg (the Hole) in Chino, California has about 100 cells. The building is old and its plumbing has many issues. Hot water is a rare luxury. I have no idea how big the Hole's hot water heater is, but it's not big enough.

Each of the 100 cells has its own sink. Each sink gets hot water from the building's hot water heater. All the pipes are mingled and each affects another's output. The world of pipes and plumbing determines the temperature of the water that comes into my sink.

The temperature of my sink water vacillates between hot, warm, and cold, all dictated by the plumbing. The temperature can switch from extremely hot to cold in a matter of seconds. One minute my cellmate and I grab our cups to have some hot coffee, and before we can get our milk cartons, add a spoonful of coffee, and make it back to the sink the water is lukewarm to cold. As you know, warm sink-water coffee is no Starbucks.

The ups and downs of our hot water system reminds me of many Christians I know-I call them "Roller Coaster Christians." These true believers are either up or down: happy, joyful, full of faith or sad, down and struggling with their faith. One hour they are on fire for Christ, and the next they doubt God's faithfulness. Their walk with Christ might be going great, then a tragedy strikes and they hit a road block.

These roller coaster believers' relationships with God and others are determined by the world around them. If all is great in the world, they feel great themselves; but if a natural disaster strikes somewhere, or another sad event, their faith in the All-knowing and All-powerful One slips. Work can be great until they are passed up for a promotion-these Roller Coaster Christians beat themselves up mentally and lose all joy.

Roller Coaster Christians are so up and down that those around them lose confidence in them. They become unreliable and ineffective witnesses. They can't be depended upon-and honestly, who likes a lukewarm Christian?

My sink has no option but to produce the temperature of water dictated to it by the pipes and plumbing. But a true believer in Christ should never depend on the world and its crises. Sure, life does bring hurts, sadness, joys and victories. But it's what we do with those things that truly matters.

Our relationship with our Father should be steady and solid. Our emotions should be based only on Him. Our faith and trust must be rooted so deeply in our Creator that, no matter what happens around us, we stay true.

I was once a believer who would shrink because of the plumbing around me. My walk was based on what took place in my world. I would switch from hot to cold in moments, depending on how I felt I was treated. But that led to exhaustion, not only for me but for those around me.

It wasn't until I was taught that my fire and hunger for my Father needed to be based on the relationship I had with Him, and not the world that I got it. It became my purpose to truly know my Creator so intimately that when life pitched me curve balls I would continue solid in my faith.

This doesn't mean I'm always perky, or dull. It means that when my human emotions take me up or down, I can give those emotions to the One Who knows me best. I can talk to Him through prayer, and He can communicate with me through His Word. Because my trust in Him is held by Him, I can be confident that He will sustain me through it all.

What do you draw from? The world's pipes and plumbing or from the Source Himself?

Adrian G. Torres is incarcerated at California Institution for Men. Enjoy more of his writing at