I will not be mocked. At least—if you insist on mocking me—I promise you, I won’t take it well.
I’ll get defensive…self-righteous…judgmental. My fragile ego, it seems, will fight for its very life when challenged…and if there’s collateral damage, so be it.
Now, I’m not particularly proud of that side of my personality. But through the grace of God, I’m coming to recognize its corrosive effect a bit earlier than I used to in certain situations—and I’m discovering that this awareness often leads to remarkable blessings.
Such was the case Saturday when I attended a Kairos reunion at a prison in southern Illinois. By luck of the draw (or the work of the Holy Spirit, perhaps?), I was the ‘outside’ team member assigned to lead a small group discussion for a quartet of inmates who clearly had little use for God-talk in that moment.
My heart sank when I realized the lion’s den into which I was walking: I’d been with this same group of inmates the month before, and remembered the ego-bruising anguish it had stirred up in me. ‘They’re not taking this seriously!’, I thought indignantly then. And as I walked toward the contemptuous clique this past Saturday, I could tell they weren’t really inclined to engage in meaningful conversation this time around, either.
Frankly, I’m not sure why I kept going. Why wander into a mosh-pit of mockery again? But as I approached the men, I was also conscious of an attitude of surrender: ‘I’m really not up to this, Lord,’ I whispered in my heart. And with that, I set my agenda (and the ‘brilliant’ words I’d been formulating) aside.
Soon enough, I discovered that Jesus keeps his promises to his servants. He tells us ‘Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say.’ And indeed: Almost as soon as I stopped fretting about the need to lead the discussion in a fruitful direction, the men themselves started telling God stories. They became witnesses of God’s power in their lives, almost in spite of themselves.
Once the floodgates opened, it was amazing to see how quickly our ‘sharing time’ flew by…and how utterly the entire situation had been turned upside down: The prisoners were now pouring grace into my heart. They were ministering to me!
A few minutes later, it was more amazing still to realize that I had begun to dance inside a prison. I was moving and swaying to the irresistible strains of our closing song—singing praise to the Lion of Judah, who had just proven to my satisfaction that He was certainly in our midst.
It’s one of those deals, I guess, where you kinda had to be there. But if you’d like a taste of what I felt and heard inside those prison walls on Saturday, you might want to take a few minutes to listen to this: ‘Victory Chant (Hail Jesus)’
Who knows? You just might find yourself doing a little two-step with the Lion of Judah, too…
Let us pause now…to remember that we are in the presence of the Holy One.
Really moving, John! Thanks for sharing this. Just another reminder that God is good to use us in spite of ourselves. And also how he flips the tables on the blessing side of things…we go with the intent of being a blessing but the we are the ones who are blessed.
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