We Will Return Home
I am the foster mom of 3 boys.
I am the daughter of someone who is terminally ill.
I am single and (this week) I am not content.
I am losing my job in 30 days.
As all of these facts flood my head, I acknowledged that by all logic, I should have been at home this weekend curled up in the fetal position eating ice cream pints and watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. But I wasn’t. Instead, I spent this particular Saturday sharing the Gospel at Lockhart Correctional. Amongst a sea of white jumpsuits, I felt a strange connection to the women who reside in this place. Some of these women were reminders that I can be completely free in this life and still feel completely imprisoned. Others reminded me that even when life has you completely enslaved, you can still live completely free.
After a light-hearted morning of getting to know these women and their stories, I watched as our speaker Emile Crawford sang Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” over these women. As she sang these words, slowly they joined in the chorus and I watched as barriers of race, sexuality, age, gang affiliations, and even beliefs began to melt away into a sea of tears.
This is my temporary home
It’s not where I belong
Windows in rooms that I’m passin’ through
This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know this is my
The words hit too close to home for a lot of these women. These words hit way too close to home for me. As I scanned the crowd watching guard, teammate and inmate alike, there was a magical moment where we all forgot the place in which we sat. If you’re familiar, there are 3 storylines to this song; a foster child being placed in a new home, a single mom just getting out of prison, and a terminally ill gentleman who is passing away. These aren’t just lyrics for me, they had become reality and at that moment, I couldn’t escape and I too began to cry.
It wasn’t until the next day during Sunday service that I would understand why in these moments of complete brokenness I was fulfilled by spending my day sharing life with these women. Why words like “temporary” could actually bring me peace.
As Pastor Chris is taking us through a series about being a part of the “family” of God, this week he landed on this scripture.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
(2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV)
So who am I?
My confidence, self-worth and purpose all stem from this truth.
I am an ambassador.
The reason I can stand in these difficult truths, the fulfillment I get from sharing the gospel with captive people, the message of hope in dark places, I have been reconciled to God and he has entrusted me with this ambassadorship. As Pastor Chris shared his message, each of his points resonated with what I felt that weekend and my experiences that weekend.
Our embassy is on enemy soil.
Anytime I am on “enemy soil” I am on mission. I can quickly lose perspective and begin to think I am only on mission when I participate in Saturday outreaches or Sunday morning gatherings with other believers. Or even worse, I can begin to believe that I am battling individuals. However, I should be constantly on mission against the enemy in the lives of unbelievers and believers alike.
We work to change hearts, not behaviors.
For the most part, every prisoner I have spoke with has a story about someone who tried to come in and “preach at them” about their behaviors. When we come in with messages of â€œbehavior modification, it may offer a temporary high, but these women know it is only a matter of time until they succumb to the temptations placed before them by environment or addiction. Hope, if rooted in our behavior, will always disappear in a moment of temptation. But hope, placed in the unchanging and irreplaceable sacrifice of Christ, has already triumphed. We do not need to add to the hardening of hearts towards Christ. We should come in as proclaimers of Good News and a tangible presence of the very thing He is love. Beginning with a friendship carried out through ongoing correspondence and a source of Godly encouragement. Not speaking about their behaviors, but speaking at the heart problem. Their need for Christ.
Our mission and message is reconciliation.
2 Corinthians mentions that we are FIRST reconciled to Christ, then entrusted with His message of reconciliation. When I begin to get confused about where to go in life or what to say, I can rest in his commission to reconcile others to Him. When life becomes bleak, in times like this week where I lose my kids, job or in the future when He decides to call my mom home, I will not lose purpose or direction. I can continue reconciling others to Him.
There is a longing in each of our souls, one that is not and cannot be satisfied by anything of this world. But when we know what an ambassador does and who it is we are ambassadors for, we can come to know our purpose, mission, message and ultimately our reward. We can stand confidently in the day to day because we know that one day we will return home to His loving arms.