I’m trying to wrap my brain around what I saw today … handcuffs being wrapped around three young men’s wrists !
They were so young …so innocent looking …still so full of potential. What happened? Where were the mama’s and the daddy’s ? How does it feel to have 5 police cars hem you in and does your life feel hemmed in without opportunity or resources or options?
I was sitting in my living room with friends when all the drama unfolded. We were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the new little baby boy in our arms — a gift from God Himself — while just outside my window somebody else’s baby boys were being held in a different way — not by loving mama’s and friends — but by law enforcement officers doing their job to protect our city. While I searched this sweet little baby’s face for the resemblance of family — outside, the police were searching pockets and a vehicle and licenses — checking for a resemblance of a different kind.
But the boys outside my window are gifts from God too! They have names and they have faces. I’ve seen them with my own eyes ! And I wonder what held their hearts captive that ended in their hands being held captive today? Do they feel they have no options? or that the cards have just been dealt this way for them? Was it peer pressure? Did the lure of money chain them to their actions?
My heart broke for these boys! I’ve never seen anyone handcuffed in real life! This wasn’t NCIS or Hollywood or the 6:00 Evening News …this was my front yard! They were literally sitting under my shade tree as their life was being processed by the authorities.
I wanted to run out there and form a circle around them and pray for them — pray that their life be processed by Jesus instead. Do I just sit and watch from my cozy little cottage window? What do I do with the words of God that say, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” ? (Isaiah 61:1) These words begin taking on a whole new meaning for me and I can’t get away from it.
Do these boys know that God really does love them and that He can set them free? If they’ve heard, did something else seem more appealing? Has the enemy of their soul deceived them into thinking there’s no way out? or that this is the freedom they’re looking for?
Those of us inside had been given good names–Biblical even … Joy and Faith. Do they know that God has tattooed their names on the palms of His hands and He wants to give them an identity that’s full of honor and true freedom and real life — a display of His splendor — instead of a mug shot with permanent fingerprints of shame?
As our tree covers the prisoners from the hot sun, I want to tell them how Jesus’ death on a tree will cover them from sin’s heat …a penalty they can never pay on their own and bail can only be paid by Jesus Himself …and Life and freedom are alive and well because Jesus is alive and well !
There’s a reason we chose to live in this neighborhood. We wanted to get a better view of how God sees the least of these …to look out a different window …a window next door instead of from across town. But then another thought came to mind. My neighborhood may have been given labels — poor, under-resourced, drugs, addictions, lower-class, etc. — labels that have imprisoned far too long. However, no matter what the neighborhood’s description, every neighborhood has those held captive …captive to that same allure of what money can buy, power, security, peer pressure to keep up with the Joneses …chains of gold and silver …those held captive to acceptable addictions. You may see them every day — being handcuffed to a lifestyle that they think brings freedom …right in front of your house too.
What about my life is bringing shade? hope? freedom for the captives? After all, isn’t this what God called me to when He said,
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)
What if we could all look out our window and see in the spiritual realm the reality of people being “handcuffed” right before our eyes …in our own front yard? And what if we have the key through Jesus Christ to unlock the chains that bind them? …or have we been keeping it locked up in a safety deposit box, securing it for our benefit alone?
While writing this, there was a knock on my front door. It was someone from the neighborhood stopping by to say “hi”. Do you think God sent that neighbor over to remind me there’s still hope ? And now I’m bound to this thought …
“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.