There were stools lined up in a very tiny corridor with sectioned off glass panes. A phone on each side of the pane. You talked on one, the inmate talked on the other. This was my very first jail visit and I told myself to put on my big girl pants that morning as I was getting ready. I looked like a big girl on the outside but I was a not so big on the inside. There were little kids visiting a loved one through the other glass panes. My friend and I were visiting one of our bridge guests. His eyes were big, tired, sad, pleading as he shared what happened. . .he had been working all day, came back to his place under the bridge and just wanted to eat out of his cooler. . .found two drunk men trying to steal his food. . .he hit one and the guy fell breaking his pelvis. . .he hit the other. He said, "the poor just do not steal from the poor, that just ain't right. I'm just out there trying to do the best I can."
Greg had said basically the same thing in our visit #2 out at the park. Greg told me that the code of conduct amongst the homeless is that they help one another, but every now and then someone will come in and break that code.
As I pictured in my mind two homeless men trying to steal food from another homeless man, I thought to myself, they're just like wild animals. . .sniffing out food and taking it whether it belongs to them or not. I could feel the burning behind my eyes, but I kept telling myself, "Be a big girl, be a big girl." I was.
I believed the man behind the glass pane. I've witnessed him and the other two men and I know none of them are perfect by far. . .neither am I. Some would ask why I felt the need to go visit. I'm just convinced all the more that we need to be there for ones who have not the Father as their Lord and Savior. They need to see His reflection looking back at them through those who have the Holy Spirit indewelling in them, even though we are not perfect, we are being made holy through Him. They need to see hope, love, and acceptance. . .not for what they do or don't do but because they are a child made in HIS image and we have the privelege of reminding them of that and showing the reflection of HIS wonderful face back at them. I also believe you can't be a part of a ministry like this and flee when something bad happens. Jesus doesn't flee. Neither should we. We don't learn, others don't learn, if we all retreat back to our corners.
I want to pray that I never have to sit on that little stool and talk into that phone again, but I've learned what I want and what God asks of me is not always the same. I've also learned that when I step out of comfort zones and be obedient to what He has asked of me, I am always so thankful on the other side. It may not always be easy, it may not always be pretty, but it is always a time of learning for me and blessings always follow. God has been teaching me discernment through listening. I've listened to many others would call rough cut. Greg also said to Keith and I one time, "I know I'm rough around the edges, but God is sanding me down, little by little." I believe love is the sandpaper.
The man behind the pane said he was so thankful that my friend and I came to see him. He touched the pane with his palm and then touched his palm to his heart. I think God did a little sanding this morning behind the glass pane.