Have you ever visited a loved one in jail? I have.
Here is my experience from this side of the glass…
Jail is a place for all types of “criminals” no matter what the severity of their crime. They are separated into different areas, but it’s all the same building… So, all of the visitors are in one area, waiting. Some are going to see a drug dealer. Other’s are waiting to see someone who can’t control their anger, while others are waiting to see someone who tried something, once, and got caught… The list of crimes is long and diverse.
The waiting area is a somber place to be. There is always a mom or two, holding a little one, or two. You can find people of all ages, races, and economic levels. They all look different, except for their expressions. Sorrow is the common ground. No one looks happy to be there, and some can’t even suppress their tears. No one chit chats, (which is hard for me, even when I am sad) Most folks don’t even make eye contact. There is an overwhelming, oppressive cloud of hopelessness.
When the visiting time approaches, everyone must go through a metal detector, and then walk down a really, really long hall… The hall that I have walked seems like a mile long. Everyone walks fast, and silently. The only sound besides the echos of the shoes hitting the floor, is the occasional sniffle. Then you reach the window, sit in the hard plastic chair, and pick up the phone to speak to your loved one, from the other side of the glass.
I can tell you that it is not pleasant. It’s a desperate feeling of total helplessness.
The few times that I have visited someone in jail, I wept, not only for the person I love, but for the realization that this is the place Jesus would go first if he were here in the flesh. He wouldn’t stop by my church, he would be at the jail. He would put his hand up to every window, and offer hope. He would walk through the walls, and take each inmate in his arms, and offer them comfort and peace. He would forgive them, and carry them though restoration, if they would let him. Because He loves them. Just as much as He loves me and you.
As hard as it is for us, on this side of the glass, it’s a million times harder for most of those that are now trapped by their own mistakes. The consequences of breaking the law are long , difficult, and expensive.
Let’s not deceive ourselves that we are too good to be in jail either… How many on this side of the glass, are living out the consequences of a sin or lie, that keeps them in bondage? Many people are trapped in a belief that keeps them in a mental prison, where there are no visitors…
The good news is that there is always hope. Praise the God who allows all things, and always offers grace. He is always there, with his arms open wide, waiting for us to come to Him. Whether you are in a jail cell, or mental bondage, or just loving someone who is, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
When you have the love of Christ, there is no more bondage, no matter what side of the glass you are on. Really.
If you need prayer for a loved one, or for yourself, I would be honored to do so…