Her name is Sara. She's African-American. Her hair was braided, graying, frizzing from the rain. Dressed from head to toe in her assigned-uniformed white. Smiling from ear to ear as she walked in. From the lines around her face it's obvious it's an expression she wears the most. She's got a sweet voice. A soft one. She grins while she talks. Laughs a lot. Though she's imprisoned, she's freed from her chains. She was tired last night. I know that, not only because she told us, but because at one time for a few minutes she dozed off to sleep. ;-)
She talks about her Savior. The goodness of our God. His infinite mercy. His unconditional love. His faithfulness in everything. His grace that has no end. I saw her underlining something that He had written to her in His book!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Oh, how sweet! Oh, how sweet!) She underlined ever so slowly, but her hand still shook as she did. The line was crooked and jagged when finished. I wondered what He'd said to her that warranted it so special? I wanted to, but refrained, I felt it too intimate to look.
How beautiful she must be to Him! Last night, she was beautiful to me!
Sara.... she's been incarcerated for 16 years. Imprisoned. Locked-up. Held. That's almost a lifetime! I don't know why she's there. I didn't ask what she'd done. But I know that she's someone's mother. She's got grand-kids now. And great-ones. Though none write. And none come to visit.
And I know that once she did something that caused her to be sentenced and kept here for years. Jailed inside a cell. Caged like an animal. Told what to wear, what to do, when to do it, when to get up, when to go to bed, when to eat, what to eat, when she can go outside, when she can't.... and she's still treated as guilty for a something she once did a very, very long time ago.
Guilty? She probably was. Guilty still? I don't think so!
Why, you wonder, at my assumption? Because she talked about forgiveness last night. Not about her wanting forgiveness, but about our being called to forgive as we ourselves have been forgiven. And not just to forgive those we 'select' to forgive. But we're called to forgive those we find it the hardest to!
I didn't know her then. Back when she committed her crime. No doubt she's changed and she's no longer the girl she once was. Though she's still treated as such. Still chained for it. Still bound because of it. But FREE despite the bars of her prison! She soared last night. Glowed from within to without. And I couldn't keep myself from watching her, because in her contentment she couldn't keep herself from grinning.
How do you do that in the circumstances she's in?
Without asking her I readily knew her answer. Regardless of where she lives, she soars in the comfort of the love of her Savior!
I'll give you her answer in one word to that earlier question ("How do you do that in the circumstances she's in?"):
He's her one and only reason!
He's her Savior that really saves! A Healer that really heals! A Redeemer that really redeems! A Ransomer that really ransoms! A Restorer that really restores! LIFE ~ that gives it ABUNDANTLY... no matter the atmosphere that surrounds you!
I saw Him last night.... in a place you wouldn't expect Him. I saw Him last night.... in the BEAUTY-FILLED face of an aging old woman (that sat next to me free in the confines of a prison) named Sara.