I once paid my sister $300 in Monopoly dollars for a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. The unfair and soul-crushing irony of that is that you can pay a $200 fine to the Community Bank to get out of jail. But being the youngest player at the table, I did not know that and was CONNED into paying for a free card. This is the plight of every youngest child in the family. Being the youngest was no stroll down Boardwalk, I’ll tell you!
There are ladies in a jail in Georgia who are part of our community here At Water’s Edge. A friend of mine visits them frequently and is able to use a special email system to send these devotionals to women she has met there. There are several beautiful things in that sentence:
1. A faithful servant visits women in jail. Just like Jesus instructed.
2. The jail provides a means of contact so that she can continue to care for them between visits.
3. These sisters in Christ are being exposed to the word of God.
In the book of Acts, we discover the incredible journeys of Paul, which include sailing, ship wrecks, preaching to large crowds, conversions, healings, and imprisonment. Paul spent years in prison awaiting trial. He was finally released after using his position as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar. While in jail, Paul continued his ministry by sharing the Gospel with his fellow inmates and guards.
In jail lingo, that is known as “doing good time.” I did jail ministry for five years when I lived in Georgia, and every week I would encourage my inmates to “do good time.” Time would be spent there one way or another. The choice to make it good time was always theirs. With nose to the grindstone, good time resulted in getting a GED or a college degree, staying fit, immersing themselves in the Word, and making amends with their families and friends. Good time often resulted in good results and being released earlier for good behavior. It was a price they could pay to improve their circumstances.
What none of us can pay for, however, is the ultimate “Get Out of Jail Free” card offered through the grace of God. Everyone is imprisoned by sin, and only Jesus Christ can pay that bail:
Ephesians 2 New International Version (NIV)
Made Alive in Christ
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Everyone reading this today is in some form of prison. Some are confined by metal bars and concrete cinder blocks. Some by abuse. Some by life-threatening habits they refuse to give up. Some by obsessions. Some by poor choices. Some by years of anger and resentment. Some by unhealthy relationships.
But Christ died that we all might be free, and the gift of grace is the key that unlocks the prison door. Where is Jesus offering you a personalized “Get Out of Jail Free” card today? What is he calling you to change so that you might experience true freedom and live the life he has prepared for you to live?
The choice to make this time on earth “good time” is yours. We are saved by grace and were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Choose life!
“Free Like a Bird,” by Michelle Robertson.