I was excited! I was finally being called to serve in the very area that was my downfall. Be Broken had been a major factor, or rather, the major tool used by the Lord to minister to me and to get me to recognize and embrace my brokenness. Of course I was excited! I finished that first article and quickly began working on my second...
Life inside these walls can be quite similar to life outside. We, the incarcerated, are faced with daily struggles and problems. And just like you, the "free world," we have to decide to turn to God or to ourselves in these times. This fact is probably no surprise to anybody, incarcerated or not. Perhaps what the incarcerated do know better than those not incarcerated is the way life in prison can drain a person of hope.
Hope. Two years ago hope was going to be the subject of my next posting, my second posting. I contemplated hope. I prayed for understanding of hope. I formulated words to express my understanding. As I sat down to put my words on paper a dark cloud settled over me. I began to understand that I was not convinced that I believed all I was saying about hope.
To clarify, I believed it all, but even as I wrote the words I knew I was not living as if I did. I did not have hope in and for my future. I did not place all my hope in the Lord. In referring to the words of St. Augustine, I was not living as if I already received that which I hoped for.
I was spiritually smashed by the revelation. I had my pen in hand when this realization came to me. I literally put down my pen (and article) for the last two years.
Prison seems to do that to a person -- in my experience, at least, and many of those around me. You may not have steel bars, concrete walls, or razor wire imprisoning you, but what holds you prisoner? Is it the desires of your flesh; selfishness that allows you to discount the feelings of your spouse or family; your sexual brokenness?
We are all held prisoner, it seems, by something. These bars and razor wire are not the things that make me a prisoner, but my sin. The dark one holds the other end of a noose placed around our necks. What outcome could one possibly hope for when tethered to the noose-end of that rope? Struggle as I might I cannot remove this noose myself. Only One can free me: Jesus.
But will He do it if I continue to run the other direction holding on to my noose as if it were a comfy scarf protecting me from the cold? And is this not the real issue with sin? We hold on to it because we think it comforts us, make us feel good in our flesh, or worst of all, feels like home because of its familiarity.
It is my sincere prayer that one day you and I can enthusiastically say with Paul, "I (insert your name here), a prisoner for Christ..." Perhaps one day my thoughts on hope will be fully realized in my heart and mind and my thoughts-set-to-paper will see the light of day. Until that day I at least know that I cannot hope for anything I am not willing to make sacrifices for, nor can I put my hope in myself but in the Lord.
Be broken, but be hopeful.