Friday, September 20, 2013

Salt, Light, Prison

 Prison. I can't even fathom being confined to a life behind bars. It's a world that exists and is very, very real for many people. Thousands of adults who used to be children that were abandoned and abused by their parents find themselves in this world, wondering where things went wrong as they find themselves under a federal sentence that they themselves are responsible for.

About a week ago I was flipping through the latest "Netflix" additions and came across the Netflix original TV series "Orange is the New Black". I will confess, I didn't read a whole lot about the show but just watched it based on advertisement on TV. When I first started watching it, I was shocked. I felt like I shouldn't even be watching it because it was so crude, so horrific, so evil; and yet, I became hooked.

The first question I asked myself was "Sarah, why do you even care about this?", but something kept attracting me to the the plot line, the characters, the world of female prison inmates, and it didn't take me long to figure out why.

Every single person on this planet deals with hardship at one point or another. Sometimes we feel that we are in our own prisons of an addiction, debt, depression, etc.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own worlds of pain and struggle. But there are completely different worlds out there. Worlds that we can't even comprehend; worlds that would make us vomit, faint, and potentially leave us crippled and scarred in ways that could never be healed.

I just finished reading a book called "Dangerous Surrender" by Kay Warren, the wife of author and pastor Rick Warren who wrote " The Purpose Driven Life". In her book she chronicled the call that God placed on her life to minister to people affected by the AIDS virus. She wrote her experience with words so descriptive, so vivid, of the pain and the depravity of AIDS victims in Africa. She wrote about how important it is that we be disturbed as Christians; that we allow our comfortable worlds to be shattered with the horrific reality of others.

Entering into the world of the female prison inmates has disturbed my world. It has given me an even deeper understanding that any existence apart from Christ is a prison. That any of us, I don't care WHO you are, has the potential to become vulnerable to commit heinous and unthinkable acts. That when deprived of Christ, of hope, nourishment and touch we are truly hopeless.

The powerful element in "Orange is the New Black" is the back ground stories of the inmates before they got to prison. Daughters of drug dealers, sexually abused children, homeless, sold to pimps; young girls who knew nothing other than pain and horror; a pain and horror that became their existence. Everyone has a story. What you see is not always what is actually there.

Be disturbed. May this post serve as a reminder of how important it is to get out of our comfort zones in the way that the Lord desires us to do. May you be reminded that the darkness of prison is the same as the darkness within our own hearts, but because of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ we live in radiant light of freedom in Christ. Our chains are gone and we've been set free, but so many are not free; so many are bound by the hand and feet to chains of their past and their present. We are not just called to be salt and light to people who are sick, hungry or in another country. I believe that God has called us to bring hope to those in chains, whether physically or literally. How will you do this?

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