2.11.15–>”When I Was In Prison You Visited Me”


Matthew 25:31-46 

“Then the King will answer them, ‘I’m telling you the truth: when you did it to the least significant of my brothers and sisters here, you did it to Me.'”

I think I have new appreciation for these verses. Yesterday, I went to see my kid, Reese, at Pendleton Prison. (For those of you who don’t know, he is a kid I was working closely with while I was at Outreach, Inc. He turned himself in for killing someone in September of 2008, and has been locked up ever since.)

My last visit, as well as this one, my first of 2015, have touched me deeply. Seeing Reese light up as soon as he saw me was just…I don’t know, overwhelming. He is starving for companionship. I am now his only visitor–ever–since his dear grandmother is in such poor health. Because of a fight he got into last year, we have to do the phone visit separated by bars and plexiglass until April. That kinda sucks, but his smile is infectious, even through the thick barrier between us.

“Rob, I missed you so much. I think about you all the time. I look at your pictures everyday.” It’s when he says stuff like that that I am speechless. It touches me so much and at the same time I feel that pain of guilt for not seeing him more often. (Especially after meeting the 80 year old guy in the waiting room who told me he drives 3 1/2 hours every two weeks to see his nephew! Well thank you for that uplifting word, Mr. Perfect! I just made my second 45 minute trek since last fall.) Anyway, I think it’s a healthy guilt because I am guilty. Guilty of not visiting Jesus Himself in prison according to this passage. When I visit Reese, I visit Jesus.

Reese craves time with me. And I think Jesus does as well. And I believe He desires it in this form and the others mentioned in this pericope–I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you made me welcome. I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to me. 

I can’t tell you the delight in my soul from visiting Reese yesterday. And it’s not because it’s such a fun, great time. You go into this dark place. You get searched for contraband which is…let’s just say the officer got to second base with me. You talk on a phone which might have been disinfected who knows what year You look at your friend through what seems to be frosted plastic. There’s hardly a thing you can offer him. There’s not much to really talk about. And yet. And yet, you are in front of someone with so much desire to be with you, who soaks up every second of your time. Who appreciates you like nothing else. God is there. Oh my is God right there in the most palatable of ways. It is there I feel connection to Him like few other places.

God is showing me more and more clearly that this is where we are to be. It is of cosmic importance to be with those who are suffering and in great need. As Jesus’ Spirit-filled-led followers, we must tend to those who suffer. It is life to them and it is life to you. Followers of Jesus must, on some level, be with the “least significant.” The seismic shift is impossible to describe. It’s not so much that you feel good, but that shalom is created, the healing of the nations is spread even if microscopically, and the universe is put in more order to some unmeasurable, perhaps minute degree.

As our visit drew to its inevitable close and I said goodbye, he put his hand up on the glass for me to put mine up to his. It was like something out of a movie and I almost burst into tears right then and there. I hung up the phone and walking away I looked back to see him staring at me still. I touched my fist to my heart and then held it out toward him (Zakk Wylde style), and then without really thinking, I touched my right index and middle fingers to my lips and then pointed them at him. It was purely a reflex of some kind and he affectionately returned the gesture. Now bear in mind this was the most testosterone-filled way of blowing a kiss imaginable, but I did think for a second, “What did I just do?!?” And then I was like, “Who cares?” I love this kid like he’s my own and I’m not ashamed of it.

If you know anyone who is suffering, if there’s anyone in your life at all in need, please, for the love of God, reach out to them today. They need to hear from you. They need your touch and connection.

You won’t regret it.


In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

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