Wednesday, April 15, 2015

4 Things I Learned in Prison | Hope

You have nothing to say. There's no way she'll relate to you. Can grace really be this deep?

This voice in my spirit would not relent. I don't know if it was my own doubts or some outside source, but it was ugly and mean.

The Word of God is sharper than any double edged sword, I spit back. Greater is HE that is in me than He that is in the world, I repeated it to myself over and over again.

I shook my hands out and bent my knees. I felt like I was going to buckle amidst my group of women.

He came to seek out and save the lost. I was lost and so was she. He came for me and her.

Sarah* was probably the seventh or eighth girl out the big metal door. She shuffled her white sneakers down the ramp and onto the cold damp concrete.

One thing I noticed right away was the two different style of shoes the girls had on. Clean white sneakers and black cloth slip ons with rubber soles. That's interesting, I thought to myself.

As she started looking around, I walked up to her and introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Jules. What's your name?"

"I'm Sarah," she said and as she did her eyes lit up and the corners of her mouth began to widen. Most of these women were numbers. Identity was considered a privilege they didn't have.

The program started and we all sat on the cold hard concrete as the speaker told us her story of brokenness, abuse, and addiction. Sarah sat next to me.

"Do you ever get tired of doing this?" the speaker asked. "Do you ever get tired of running and surviving?" Some of the women answered verbally and others just with their brows and nods.

"Then listen to me, there is rest for you today. Jesus said, 'Come to ME and I will give you rest."

Wiping the tears from my own welling eyes, I glanced at Sarah. Then I looked to my left, behind me, and in front of me and I saw it. I saw the walls cracking and heart gates opening. I saw women, just like you and me, sitting in what looked like an elementary school yard, feel the pain and the loss and the fear.

I saw, old ones and young ones alike, covering their mouths with their sleeves because this woman told them we loved them.

It was obvious they'd never heard that before, or if they did it was followed with a broken promise.

"These women," the speaker continued, "They came here from all over the country just for you."

We huddled into groups of five or six and Sarah, wiping her eyes and a little worried about her makeup, scooted into my group. We talked through the message of the Gospel and then the flood gates opened. It started with Sarah.

"I've been here for 15 years," she said, "and I've got 10 more before I'm even up for parole. My youngest son is in his 20's and I never saw him grow up. I have five grand babies I've never even met. Every day I wake up and ask God why He's keeping me alive. How do I keep the faith with something like that?"

Remember how I noticed the two different styles of shoes? The girls who were in for a short-term didn't waste their commissary money on shoes. They'd get by with the cheap ones. But the sneakers, the clean white crisp sneakers, those girls had lost all hope.

There it was again, that voice. You're in way over your head.

With tears streaming down my face, I leaned in, looked her straight in the eyes and replied, "I have no idea. I have no idea what it's like for you. But I do know this: the God you pray to every morning, if it's the same God I talk to everyday, He is in the business of redemption."

"Even for someone like me?" she asked.

Yes, absolutely yes.

- - - - - - - - - -
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you."

Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Luke 18:35-43

Wholeness, healing, redemption; all things I tend to put subconscious guidelines on. For instance, it'll only come to situations like this and people like that. It's never too radical but definitely not impossible. 

My finite mind has tried so hard to grasp the vast concept of grace and salvation, the undying hope of the world, but it was a pair of crisp white sneakers that made it click for me.

Hope is for everyone. Everyone. There is no limit on God's redemption plan. 

This weekend Sarah was confronted with the same question Jesus asked the blind man, What do you want me to do for you? 

And she answered, "Hope. I want you to give me hope."

*Names changed to protect identity
This post is part of a four part series. Did you miss Part One?
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