From Prison to Freedom
If you ever are incarcerated for any reason, no matter how minor the charge, the experience will have a lasting effect on you. It is a simple thing to pass by any complex that houses inmates and think nothing about it. But, being on the opposite side, looking out as a resident, leaves a memory that stays with you.
One of the ministries some of our deacons are involved with centers on prison ministry. The one down side of incarceration is loneliness. When mail call or a mail carrier in prison comes around with letters from home an inmate looks with an anticipated desire waiting for some news from a loved one. It’s like being in the armed forces away from home and waiting for a hello from home that never comes. Even someone who is jailed for a very serious crime has that need. It can have a devastating effect when they are locked up and the effect of emptiness from non-communications adds to incarceration. St. Paul must have sensed that as well when he wrote from Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. There are times when being alone allows one to create teaching that otherwise might be corrupted with too much interference from people and/or clutter type noise.
Did you ever consider another type of lock-up scenario without incarceration? Lent will fit that experience for any one of us when the crime facing us is sin. Like less serious crime receiving a lesser type of incarceration, so sin, no matter how insignificant it may be, will still earn a type of being locked away where the only freedom from our punishment is by looking out from a jail window.
The type of loneliness we’ll experience is the gnawing away at our conscience when we know how we’ve slipped and hold it in avoiding being convicted. When we were confirmed, the one primary element that should have been spoken to us is, “When we sin the Holy Spirit is with us and convicts us of the need to return to God and seek his forgiveness.”
It’s like playing Monopoly and find ourselves in jail. Drawing the Chance card that gets us out of jail free, is the same as The Holy Spirit through the grace of our faith removing that incarceration because of sin and frees us to move on through life, freed from condemnation. As long as we hide the sin we carry the longer it will be a lock-up we experience as we look out at the freedom through a window of hope.
Perhaps the one advantage that Lent lasts 40 days is that may be the length of time some might need to get the courage to reach out through that window of imprisonment and grasp the reality of freedom God is holding for us.
Ralph B. Hathaway, freedom from sin.