Walking from the courthouse to my car, I was passing the jail. A man approached me with a rather desperate appearance, some bills in his right hand and some change which he was counting in his left. He stopped me as we passed and asked me if I could help him out.
He had to report to jail for weekends and was at the jail to pay the fees associated with serving a sentence in that manner. For misdemeanor convictions, the judge will often allow shorter sentences to be served over consecutive weekends to avoid losing a job or in order to meet other obligations. There is a fee that must be paid each week by the defendant and if it is not paid in full and on time, the weekends become straight time for whatever period is needed to satisfy the sentence.
This man said that he had taken the bus to the jail to pay his weekend fee but did not have enough to cover the fee after paying for the bus. Now he was asking for help. I asked him how much he needed, which wasn’t much, and handed him the difference. He was thankful but it didn’t end there.
I looked him in the eyes as I handed him the money and told him that this was not a gift, this was an investment. This was an investment into the man that he was created to be. This was an investment believing that his choices which led him to this situation were not consistent with the purpose of his destiny. I told him that I expected a return on this investment and that the return I expected was that he would step into his intended identity and out of situations that led to weekend jail.
There is always some risk when sharing a story like this of making the story about me. It’s not about me and I’m not in any way tooting my horn about giving this man a little money and talking to him. I only am in such a position by grace which I never deserved. I am honored to be in the position to help this man, not proud.
I was encouraged by our time together and the man’s posture and reactions to the challenge I was presenting. The little bit of money it took to engage in that type of investment was well worth it and the return on that investment was immediate for me. When we are afforded the opportunity to invest in the lives of others and decide to do just that we benefit just as much as they do.
I hope that the weekend that man spent in jail was a weekend of Freedom.