It’s the morning after Grateful Ministry served in three prison church services, and I find that my usual discipline of quietly sitting in a comfy chair praying and reading the Bible is simply not adequate.
Should I begin by thanking God for helpful and gracious officers who escorted us into prison, checked our belongings and “wanded” us to make sure we weren’t bringing in contraband?
How about the Chaplain who welcomed us warmly and afterwards sent an encouraging email note thanking us for showing up?
Or how about how our church sends us out, prays for us and provides church vans for our use?
Should I begin by thanking God for travel mercies for the volunteers?
Wait, before that, thank you, Lord for gracing two old prison missionaries with lively, Holy Spirit-full young volunteers to go with us! Wow! From the music to the testimonies to the preaching and teaching, there was never a dull moment. A couple of tense seconds, perhaps, but never dull.
Shall I go back to eighteen years ago when God seared our hearts with Matthew 25, inviting us to join Him as He identified with His beloved “least of these?”
Then, as now, the overriding wonder was God’s presence, there in that hard, cold place. His presence, filling us with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
If I could dance, I’d never sit still. If I could sing nearly as well as these young people, you wouldn’t be able to shut me up. But what I can do is write a note like this, share with whomever wishes to read it, and quote King David who knew how to be grateful:
“How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” Psalm 116 16-18.
Elaine Soerens, February 27, 2012