I routinely visit clients in the jail. Often times, this is done via a video through a telephone handset and sometimes it is face to face. When face to face, I go all the way into the jail itself.
Inside the jail isn’t as different or scary as people might imagine. It’s people interacting and living together, albeit in a regulated and institutionalized setting. The human realities are evident with meals being served, discussion between deputies and inmates among inmates. People are playing dominos, watching television and sleeping.
The needs of the inmates appear to be met, even if the provision is not extravagant. For some of the inmates, it is not hard to imagine that their needs may be better met inside the jail than they are outside the jail.
I was considering the jail recently and thought about the walls we live within even when we are not incarcerated. We can often seek to institutionalize our own lives by protecting our known sources of provision. The environment we retreat to will leave us in patterns of expectations and behavior that eliminate the unknown or disturbing.
It is when we venture outside the walls of our self-imposed institutions of control that we are able to grow to new levels of maturity. When we step outside the predictability of a life without risk and choose to venture in faith into the unknown, we relinquish control. When we relinquish control, we are stretched in our ability to trust and depend on something or Someone beyond ourselves.
Life was never meant to be lived constrained by the walls of a prison. Nor is it meant to be muted by submission to routines that leave us dependent on only ourselves. When we control our environment to ensure our own protection and provision, we give up the freedom which nurtures a Supernatural relationship. That relationship brings Life and true Freedom.