Incarcerated – Part 1

by DanWolgemuth on May 3, 2019

I sat across from Danny, a bright, young member of our team from Indianapolis. His eyes danced with joy and hope and confidence and a winsomeness that is nearly childlike.

But Danny is no child. At least not by conventional definition.

His pathway to our team twisted in directions that made an onramp to a healthy life obscure, if not entirely impossible. Danny grew up on the east coast, and he grew up far too quickly.

Yet, there is no victim card in his deck. He doesn’t blame or twist or excuse what ultimately took him to an extended time in prison. What Danny does in relating his story is to introduce everyone who will listen to the borderless love and grace of Jesus. His Savior. His Redeemer. His Lord. His guide.

Danny has the profound and unique ability to transparently communicate his story without flaunting his past brokenness and without living in the shame of many destructive choices. No, what Danny does when he tells his story is shine the brightest of lights on the mercy of Christ. It’s convicting and it’s contagious.

Contagious. A viral condition that infects every wounded heart, that opposes any and every self-righteous tendency, that converts skeptics into advocates.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ transformed Danny. Not after he got his life back together, but while he was paying the price for the crimes he had committed. The shackles on Danny’s life fell off, long before the bars of his cell were opened. Jesus does not wait for parole, for a retrial, or for a release date. Jesus doesn’t have to wait for visiting hours. And Danny proves that point.

Today, as I hit send on this Fragment, I will be walking through intake in a Juvenile Detention Center in the Midwest. For twenty-four hours I will be an inmate. A 64-year-old prisoner.

Months ago I agreed to take this unusual step. I agreed to expand my understanding of incarceration, by walking through the process first hand. I agreed to living into the words of Jesus in Matthew 25…

I was in prison and you came to me. (vs 36b)

You came to me. Into my cell. Into the mess. Into the brokenness. Into the discomfort. Into the shame… not to condemn, but to redeem.

And as we come to Jesus in prison, a cell becomes a classroom. A sanctuary. A podium from which we live out what Isaiah instructed us to do…

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;
Freedom. Liberty. Hope.

I’ve lived this through Danny… now I’ll see it first hand. I’ll see Him first hand.

You’ve done it to me.

To be continued….

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