It was a bright summer morning. I was feeling happy and energetic on my drive to work. My convertible top was down, the sun was warming my face and the wind was dancing through my hair.
I waited at the stoplight, inching my way forward for a right turn and glancing at the oncoming traffic. A large white bus approached, blue wording on the side. As it made its way down the hill and through the intersection, I recognized its logo.
The local correction facility. Jail.
I squinted in the sunlight to see if there were any passengers. Dark silhouettes were scattered throughout the bus as it passed by.
The contrast settled upon me heavily. Just as I was breathing in the fresh morning air and delighting in the freedom of the day, these men and women were being transported in a dark, drab bus to or from prison.
Freedom and captivity crossing at the intersection.
But the crazy thing?
We weren’t so different from each other.
And my heart of hearts knew this as a sobering sorrow filled it.
When ministering to prisoners, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen quipped that the difference between them and him was that he "hadn't been caught!"
How true. We all fall short. We sin. We choose evil over good, dark over light. We turn away from the One who offers freedom.
My Kutless cd spun in the player as I turned onto the road after the bus passed. The lyrics echoed my heartthoughts and I marveled at the timing.
“If you take it all, will my hands stay lifted to the God who gives and take away?”
All this I have, this freedom, is a gift I haven’t earned. This freedom in America. This freedom in Christ.
Did those prisoners grow up in a broken home? Were their crimes born from ignorance, pain, need, despair? What if we switched places? Would my hands stay lifted in praise to a God who is always good no matter what my circumstances?
Grace that set me free. Grace that continues to free me from all that holds me captive.
Grace that nudges me to share that freedom with others. With those who do not know the One who shatters chains, opens gates, and pours light in dark places.
So when the sun shines and the wind dances, I praise God for the freedom He has brought into my life in so. many. ways. Yet I also pray that I "not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; [but] rather, serve one another through love" (Galatians 5:13).