Leftovers, Part II

December 11, 2008 | 15 comments

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” — Mother Teresa

Love: It hopes. It believes. It endures.

God made us for it.

If I don’t have it, I’m no better than a clanging cymbal.

Yet I hoard love. I save it for those who love me back. I give it most freely to those who respond the way I want.

Love was meant to be passed on, freely, yet I fail to give it to those who cry out for it.

I want to share love like a group of guys did in prison last weekend — recklessly, without regard for appearance, ability, smell, whether the favor of love would be returned.

Last weekend, my husband and a group of guys spent a few days in an Iowa prison with about 35 inmates who felt utterly unloveable. This group went into the prison to love, no strings attached. They listened to their new brothers, prayed with them and shared communion with them.

Prisoner or free, they were all sinners, saved by grace. Which sort of levels the playing field.

At the close of the weekend, a few of the inmates shared what the weekend meant to them. I’ll let them speak for themselves:

“People treated me like a human being again.”

“I learned that there were really people that cared about me.”

“God loves me.”

“I can’t believe the real love I felt.”

“You didn’t judge me for what I did in the past.”

“You prayed for me.”

“I gave my life back to Jesus.”

On the world’s menu, a lot of these prisoners feel like the leftovers. And really, any of us who has ever communed with God knows exactly how this feels: You’d settle for a crumb from the Master’s Table, but unbelievably, He serves you the feast.

At the dinner table in prison, the men drink from common, ordinary cups. The cups are nothing special — beige, drab, without decoration, or any mark of distinction. They blend in with the other cups, and when they break they are thrown away.

During the weekend at prison, the prisoners shared communion from one of those common, ordinary cups.

By itself, the cup was nothing special. But filled with the blood of Christ, it had worth greater than gold.

So, too, are we. We come as broken, chipped vessels. Common, ordinary folk. But when filled with Christ, we are invaluable.

“Love each other as I have loved you.” — Jesus, on the night of the Last Supper

Photo: Prison-issue cup and John 15:12-17.

by | December 11, 2008 | 15 comments

15 Comments

  1. sharilyn

    so glad to hear good news from the Boys in Blue… i prayed for the guys this weekend… both those in and those ‘going in’ for the weekend. God is faithful! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jennifer Dukes Lee

    Sharilyn! On behalf of those guys, I say thank you! It was truly a blessed weekend.

    Reply
  3. Ruth Hull Chatlien

    This is a great story for the Advent season. May love come down to the prisoners you wrote about.

    Reply
  4. Red Letter Believers

    love one another, as I have loved you….Jennifer, why do we struggle so?

    I have done prison ministry and that is hard stuff. Bless your husband!

    Reply
  5. Red Letter Believers

    love one another, as I have loved you….Jennifer, why do we struggle so?

    I have done prison ministry and that is hard stuff. Bless your husband!

    Reply
  6. Chris Godfredsen

    A tremendous post, one to force us deep within ourselves to honestly ask and answer that question, do I hoard love? I dare say as followers of Christ we are often times hyper-critical of ourselves, for the goal to which we press on towards is Christ-likeness – lofty ambition. But as I read your posts, see you live your life and hear what others think and say about you, to say that YOU hoard love is somewhat laughable!!! I praise God for you and your husband, and the myriad ways and myriad peoples whom you love!

    Reply
  7. Chris Godfredsen

    A tremendous post, one to force us deep within ourselves to honestly ask and answer that question, do I hoard love? I dare say as followers of Christ we are often times hyper-critical of ourselves, for the goal to which we press on towards is Christ-likeness – lofty ambition. But as I read your posts, see you live your life and hear what others think and say about you, to say that YOU hoard love is somewhat laughable!!! I praise God for you and your husband, and the myriad ways and myriad peoples whom you love!

    Reply
  8. Billy Coffey

    I think we all tend to hoard love, mostly because we leave ourselves so vulnerable when we give it. The prospect that our love won’t be returned or honored? That can be scary.

    What your husband and his friends did took the sort of love that is bathed in both courage and faith. The sort of love that can work miracles in people’s lives.

    Reply
  9. lynnrush

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. It’s inspiring.

    Reply
  10. valerie lynn

    Wow Jennifer! What a powerful story. I love the title of your blog. Will definetely be back to visit! Blessings to you my new friend in Christ and much love.
    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a kind and warm comment.

    Reply
  11. patty

    thank you, once again, Jennifer, for sharing your insights through your gift of writing with us…

    Reply
  12. Darlene

    once again. beautiful reflection. I am blessed by what you share.

    Reply
  13. Beth

    Jennifer, thank your husband and his group for me. I have a son in prison and it would make my heart sing to know that someone had taken the time to share their time and to show love to my son unconditionally. What a wonderful thing they are doing by giving of themselves in service to these prisoners. Thank you also for your post on my blog, Lifeboat Moments, earlier this week. God bless you.

    Reply
  14. Jesse and Sarah

    My father does goes to the prisons and visits with some of the inmates too, but I have never viewed it in quite the way you have it stated here. But what you say is so true and needed to hear. A lot of people, such as prisoners, the homeless, forgotten or abused often feel just that; like leftovers. And, then there’s us, who, as you said come to Him broken and needy who need Him just as so many others do. Thanks to God for salvation through Christ!

    Reply
  15. 2nd Cup of Coffee

    Prison ministry is one that always stops me in my tracks. Thanks for sharing this and for your comments today at Internet Cafe.

    Reply

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