There are few things in life that one incarcerated can call their own. When they are arrested, they have rights, when they are convicted, they lose their right to freedom as they know it.
For a citizen who follows the law this is an acceptable consequence for a crime. For the prisoner it can be a death sentence in itself.
So where does one find hope in this environment? Today I would like to share a true short story of finding hope.
My son is in prison, serving an 8 year prison sentence for a crime he realizes now was a terrible lapse of judgment. While this mom misses her son greatly and is sad to recognize that he is missing out on life during this season, I realize that like the Prodigal Son, some of us have to be at the bottom to look up.
There is so much emotion in this process. No son expects to spend his life in prison and no mother expects for her son to find him there. But I am reminded daily that Jesus came for just such a person as my son.
So, if my son has all of his freedom stripped, he owns nothing of his own, what does he have?
He has hope.
It is hard for our society to recognize that the Life to the full that Jesus wants for us in John 10:10 has nothing to do with freedom in the sense that we know it. It has nothing to do with possessions. It has everything to do with hope and love . . . IN HIM.
So, back to my story….. The Parole board made a decision in August which was devastating. He is to serve 80% of his sentence. Now in Georgia, 65% is standard for his convicted charge. But due to the specific crime committed, the Parole Board thought it in the best interest of the public to extend it. Regardless of what I think, you think or anyone thinks, this was the answer.
But I know that God has a plan.
Jeremiah 29:11 says that “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is a promise, a promise meant for ALL, yes even those in chains.
Now this is the part where many may ask, but He is in prison, why should he have hope? He committed a crime, he should suffer. He should experience pain so he will learn from his mistake. And here is the rub, when you take hope away from an individual do they truly learn anything? This is why Jesus came, this is why He taught us to love, because He knew that when you take love and hope out of the equation, you end up with an individual who builds up a wall around themselves, an individual who lives in a world of hate and discontent. A person who decides to take out their hopelessness on others because they forget what love is. You multiply that by the 55,000 people in the Georgia Prison system and what do you have? What happens when they are released?
It sounds dire doesn’t it? And yes, it truly is dire. But, I digress, back to my story . . .
I found out on Monday of my son’s future. What an awful day. But God was so faithful, He placed me on the heart of 2 of my dear friends who out of the blue contacted me. In fact, one called me the very moment I found out. In was wonderful to have someone there to share my tears. Thank you Lord.
On Tuesday, I started praying. Understand now that I pray daily for my son, but on Tuesday it all changed. I was fearful for him, worried that this would change his outlook. Worried that he would give up on God. And I will honestly tell you that part of me thought that God COULD NOT change this situation. “How could he heal the heart of someone with no hope?” I would ask myself. “Ahhhh, my daughter, you forget that I am the God that parted The Red Sea.” My Father would remind me. These moments leave me in a puddle of my own tears, I have to say.
On Wednesday, I brought the ruling to my Bible Study at work. A wonderful group of people whom I have known for years and God has chosen to draw us together to lift one another up, to pray for one another and to grow closer to Him. This is what The Church is all about. I was a puddle of emotion, but God called them to pray over me. Now let me tell you, when I pray to God it is a beautiful moment of relationship and fellowship with My Father, when a group of people pray over you it feels like all Heaven is coming down. I truly understand the meaning of Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them.”
The prayer prayed was for God to help my son “FIND HOPE.” This is an important thing to note.
There are 2 things which happened Thursday which I would find out later. 1- My son would receive the letter with the Parole Board’s decision. 2- He would also find a ring earlier in the day.
A ring, what is so special about a ring? You ask. Well while on his work detail he would find a small silver ring with an engraving on it. The engraving spelled “HOPE”. He saw this as a cute little trinket. I saw this as something so much greater. You see, we prayed for my son to FIND HOPE. God showed up in a Mighty way and allowed him to find this ring BEFORE he read the ruling.
In visiting my son, he would share the story, show me the ring and I would weep. He didn’t understand, I had to explain how just the day before my beautiful small group was praying for him to FIND HOPE. Just as he did.
God is so Faithful. He grieves when we grieve. He holds us when we feel alone. And He gives hope to the hopeless. His Gift when Jesus died on the Cross gave all of us hope. ALL OF US. This little ring was only a reminder of a greater gift that He gave my son. A reminder that God’s Love is FOR HIM and WITH HIM no matter where life takes him. Yes, even in a prison cell.
I was so thankful for His reminder to my son. And while this makes for a great God Story, God wasn’t finished yet. My son was happy to find hope, but maybe he needed a little more reminding. Over the last few weeks, he has found himself in a very sad place. But our God was with him. While praying, my son told me that God told him to give his hope away. He had to pass it on. “The ring has served it’s purpose and now it’s time to give it to someone else who needs it.” He would say. My son was mad, he says. But, he was obedient and gave the ring away understanding there was a greater purpose involved.
And so, the story continues. God shares His Hope in big and mighty ways, yes; but remember that He also shows His Hope in seemingly small but powerful ways. My son has seen The Hand of God move, there is nothing greater that a mom can see in her child than to watch God move in their life.
How can He use YOU to show hope to someone who seemingly has no hope today?
Father, thank YOU for Hope. Thank You that in our life we can find HOPE in YOU. We can find HOPE in one another. And yes, we can even find HOPE in simple little reminders that You place in our path. I pray Father that we all will find our HOPE in You. I Love You so very much.
Your Amazed Daughter