Reflection on a jail visit.
October 2nd, 2014
On Tuesday night, Steven Buffalo and I accompanied Chaplain David Choate back into the jail in Loudon County. As with our last few visits, God showed up and directed The Holy Spirit in guiding both our words and the hearts of “the least of these”. Again we were blessed to see Chaplain Choate deliver a spirit filled sermon at the drop of a hat that He felt was right for the cell block which first came in. The jail sends these men in cell block units ranging in size from as little as two to as many as twenty, sometimes more. Steven and I each were blessed to deliver our words twice this visit, and although we both had notes to work off of, as we see every Sunday with Pastor Nick, most of what we delivered was not included in them.
We are now addressed by name as several of these men know us. We are seeing some growth in some of the men, especially one particular cell block where God is working within them in beautiful ways. To see the true excitement, thirst and knowledge of scripture in this dark place is truly uplifting; it is a real blessing for us to share with them.
You all know that I do not possess the education or knowledge base that the Pastoral staff at Canvas is blessed to have and share with all of us. You also know that I have a problem keeping my mouth shut. While that problem may be a thorn in my side in the world, it seems to be a tool that God is using inside the jail. In the short time that I have been speaking to these men, I have actually achieved a first grade education on how to get a message across. I still have a long way to go, but with the blessings of God, I am starting to shed my nervousness and get a bit more comfortable with this new way for me to serve for The Kingdom.
While trying to write down notes for this visit, I probably had ten false starts; they sounded good while writing, but were rubbish the next day. When I finally got terribly discouraged, I went to the bedroom, turned off the lights and prayed, hard and long. I asked for words led by The Spirit which would be felt by these men in their particular circumstances. Then I got quiet and listened. What I heard was so simple, stop trying so hard, this message is as simple as a child’s game. That was the whole answer. So I returned to writing on my chosen subject which was ‘God is pursuing you’.
First word I typed was ‘Tag’. The simple game of running away from someone wanting to make you ‘it’. Yep, a child’s game. Then came ‘Hide and seek’, trying to hide behind something and stay hidden. ‘Dodge ball’, trying to nimble and not have to feel the sting of the ball. Then kept coming, ‘Tug of war’, ‘Arm wresting’, ‘Follow the leader’, ‘Simon says’.
The meanings were all so simple and so powerful. I stepped up to deliver this message and afterward I felt that I had, with help of The Spirit, reached at least some of the men in that small room.
Stop running, let God tag you and make you ‘it’. Then start making other people ‘it’ by spreading The Good News. Stop trying to hide from God, you ain’t gonna win this game; lust, drugs, alcohol, work, sports, wherever you try to hide, He is there. Sometimes we have to get a dodge ball in the face for Him to get our attention. Sometimes He will test our strength with arm wresting. Sometimes we will play tug of war and get dragged through the mud just to show us that suffering and humiliation are needed in order to show us His grace and love. Stop playing Follow the Leader or Simon Says, this world will not deliver the true peace and richness of a life knowing God and the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. Learn that a fellowship of believers working together is absolutely imperative, strength in numbers, teamwork, prayer, confession and solidarity in Christ. Simple games can teach us so much, so simply.
The days leading up to this visit were filled with some hard dark things which I feel were intended to drive me away from this service; they did not work, God prevailed! Huge thanks for all the prayers from our Canvas family. We carry them as a shield of protection and I am blessed to have you all.