In the Prison
by Tonja Taylor

I had to go to local prison to be fingerprinted to serve as sub teacher. I was not looking forward to it.

As I walked in the massive, forbidding structure of concrete and steel with electrified wire on top of the outside walls, I felt heavy. 

I went to the front desk, and was waved back to a thick steel door. I went in, then was faced with another door--which would not open, for several seconds.

I had a slight panicky feeling, as I was now trapped inside a small space surrounded by impenetrable steel.

After what seemed a short eternity, the door to the other side finally opened. I entered a cold, sterile room, where the attendants, the food trays, and even the food was a bleak, hopeless brown.

I presented my paperwork to a guard, and she led me to a room. She grabbed my hand and took each finger and pressed them onto ink pads, then pressed my stained fingers onto the stiff paper. While she was doing that, I couldn't help but think of the invisible chains of sin that was the reason for all criminals, and the reason for all prisons to hold them.

I was so thankful that the LORD, through the precious blood of Jesus' death for all on the cross, had erased--purged and forever blotted out--my criminal record and instead written my name in the Lamb's Book of Life!

Soon, the guard was done, and as I signed my name, I breathed a little relief. She cracked a grin and said, "Guess you're glad you're getting outta here, huh?"

"You bet!" I replied, and said, "Where's the door?"

She motioned toward it, and when the buzzer rang, I swung the door wide. Once again, I was trapped--or felt that way--between two solid steel doors. I was sure the cameras picked up my slight fear, as my heart started pounding a bit. Here I was in a prison and I was innocent!

Or was I?

No, I wasn't. I, like all humans, had sinned grossly against the Holy One Who is God. But praise the Lord, Jesus had taken my place!

If He had died for the world today instead of Roman times, He would've sat in the electric chair for me--and for all.

When the last door finally swung open, I heard the clerks and guards snickering at my nervousness. I didn't care. I was almost out.

The door opened the door and the light imediately warmed my face, welcoming me.

It had been a long time since I had been that nervous--or that relieved--in the same few minutes. "Thank You, LORD, for taking my place!" I said. "Thank You for making me FREE! I am Yours; please work through me to teach others how to be truly FREE, in Jesus name!"

Later, I remembered the testimony a sister in Christ had shared about her prison ministry. Six women prisoners had come to the LORD, and the LORD gave her favor to take those women to church (accompanied by an armed guard) and--for just a few moments--they were allowed for just a few minutes to be freed from their ankle chains and baptized in water.

Once they rose up again, the chains were put back on, and they had to go back behind bars.

I shared that with my daughter that night as we prayed. "They are locked up in body, Sweet Pea," I told her, "but they are forever free in their spirits! That's the power of God!"

"Free in spirit!" she said. "Mama, let's pray for ALL the people in ALL the prisons to know Jesus!"

And we did. Every night for many nights, she has requested that we pray for "all the people in the prisons."

Who knows, my daughter may have a jail ministry if the LORD calls her to that.

But one thing she has alreaady learned, is that, but for the grace of God, there go we, and it's only our beleif in what Jesus did that has made us truly free!

Tonja K. Taylor is the author of many works, including THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS PEARL, P.O.W.E.R.* Girl! series. She and her husband Clayton minister the Word through teaching, preaching, and the arts, through River Rain Creative Arts (You Tube, God Tube), their church, and beyond.

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