Monday, April 7, 2014

The Cost of Freedom


Two months have passed since we've seen him there, months of wondering mixed with some worry. I still don't really know him, but I've seen things. I've seen eyes like his that pace the room and hands that can't stop moving. I've seen the way a good man can get lost in freedom, the way a good man can get lost in himself, so far gone that he never even knew he existed, so far gone that he'd never say he was good.

It's hard not to think the worst, but it's harder to feel like a fool.
So we plummet past the trap-door of practicality and tell ourselves it might be bad but it could probably be worse. I'm sure he's doing fine, we say.

We know first-hand that church doesn't mean as much as we'd like to believe, especially for boys who grew up hating it. He came once. The bread was broken and he received.

And I trust in a God whose son could multiply the loaves, so I trust in a God whose son could multiply the grace unfurling in one slim Sunday hour. I trust that the same Jesus who came to walk among us, live within us, can climb inside a tatted, broken body, and find His home. Of course He can. Right?
 
We see him across the room, the same pair of khakis, the same tidy shirt.
We go to him, hearts sinking at the way his eyes are so lost.

A lot can happen in two months.
I can't even imagine what might have happened.

His blue eyes fill, red-rimmed, struggling to meet ours.
He's lost and broken. He needs a friend. He needs someone to fight for him. Someone to believe in him.

If there's a chance in the Universe for him to rise on up, he's got to walk away from everything he's ever known, every wrong person he's chased. Can you imagine? All of his history wiped clean. All the love he knew - all the wrong kinds of love - burned up and floating away.

Where that leaves him is weeping in a church pew, scared to death of his freedom.

What happens when safety only registers when all the decisions are made for you and everything you own fits under the bed of your cell? What do you do when, for the first time in 15 years, the world belongs to you, and it terrifies you, ties you in knots?

We know God can fix our middle-class problems. We thank him mindlessly for our lunch, veering off script just enough to remember a roof over our heads on these rainy days. We pray for our sick aunt and the babies in Africa. We say we trust Him. We say we trust Him.

But all across our towns, other prayers fall hot and soak the pillow. All across town, our brothers and sisters hope they're praying right, but aren't so sure. They believe there's something bigger than who they are, but they don't know if they've used up all their chances.

They beg for help and Jesus looks at you and me and asks, "How much bread do you have?"

Can we trust Him enough to believe He'll multiply our lack? Can we possibly believe we'll know what to say or how to act or what on earth we can possibly do to help? Can we stop telling ourselves what we have could never be enough, so why bother?

He kneels once more, receives Christ's body, broken singularly, specifically for him.

I say that I trust Him, and pray it sustains this friend who's so afraid right now of living.


30 comments:

  1. So good Shannan, as always. Love your heart. Love your writing.

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  2. Oh Shannan...sigh. I stopped just now in the middle of all the other things and prayed with you.

    ps - A precious little piece of my heart is sitting in a cell tonight, 6 months pregnant and detoxing...I really needed this reminder of His wonderful "enough-ness,,,"

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    1. Thanks for sharing about that piece of your heart. I'm praying with you tonight.

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    2. Praying with y'all...a precious BIG piece of my heart is walking this road too...along with many others in this broken world.

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  3. Hi Shannan - I love your words, they are refreshing - I have just 'found you' and here is the thing. You are 1 of 9 new writers over at inCourage and I must say your little intro blurb jumped right out and YANKED my arm!!! I live in Adelaide South Australia and work with guardianship children in emergency care. My heart regularly bleeds over the sad and often horrific stories which have painted their lives. We also respite foster a beautiful little girl and she has given us so much blessing :-) I adore that you guys do what you do and wanted to let you know that your adorable family are in our famiy prayers. TK

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    1. Thanks so much!
      And thanks for sharing a bit about you and your life.
      I'm reading Til the End of June right now. Yowza. It's changing me.
      And I'm a little scared! :)

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  4. wow. a piece of my heart just ripped. Thank you for how you cut right to it, making all of the gloss of this world wash away like it never existed. That, right there, is where it's at. Praying for our brother right now <3 That God is with Him, that he returns and you have opportunity to pull him in and love him <3

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  5. You know I know of this. But I wanted to share this part of The Gospel Prayer by J.D. Greerar. "As I pray, I'll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection."
    His power and His compassion are really beyond measure. You exhibit that to him. Praying for that man.

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  6. Again there is just so much goodness to ponder and pray over in this post. REALLY wishing for a cup of coffee and some chocolate and time to talk to you about some of these things going on in your life.....and mine!

    Trusting God with you for this man who comes back....may he come back again and again!

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  7. I am praying for him as well.

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  8. In times like these all we can do is trust... sigh. Your writing is wonderful, and so is your giving of yourself. You set such a great example especially to Christians.

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  9. He and all of you are in my prayers too. With God all things are possible and each of us is in His tender care. God knows all that is going on in this one's precious life.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

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  10. Thank you for writing words that encourage us to "see" those around us, to dare to love and to walk hard roads alongside the broken, for it is what we are ALL called to do...
    Praying for him and ya'll - Kelli

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    1. Thanks, friend.
      I tried to comment on your blog last night but had trouble.
      Wanted you to know I tried! :) You know me...technology isn't my strong suit (cough cough)
      But I'll figure it out and be back.
      Have a great day!

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  11. I love "multiply my lack." I pray for that all the time!

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  12. Wow. Your words are powerful and strike deeply. Thank you for allowing yourself and your words to be a vessel of God's ceaseless, enduring, amazing love that pours out for us and is our simply for the asking. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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  14. You will never know how closely your post aligns with the message we heard this past Sunday night at church. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Your post is very moving, thought provoking and soul stirring. Oh that He will multiply my lack and that I will trust Him and let Him move through me.

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  15. I have followed you for some time now and you never fail to evoke an emotion - laughter, inspiration, and in this case tears. So much so that I had to delete my first comment as it was too blubbery! My heart breaks for this man on so many levels. My son could not handle his freedom the first time he got out of prison for unarmed bank robbery, so he began again and is finishing up his 14-year prison sentence in 2 years. Right now, he is so full of hope as he has learned some computer skills and how to operate a forklift. But I know it will take a miracle for him to find the job he so hopes for when he gets out in the world. There are so many ahead of him just as deserving, or more so (the man in your story), our veterans and on and on. I will keep the faith. I will do what I can do to help others. Thank you for your blog. Thank you for being you. ♥ you, girl!

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  16. I love reading your blog!! Just saying . . .

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  17. Prayers for you all as you navigate this hard time. I can't imagine a better set of parents for this young man.

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  18. Praying, Shannan... for him, for you, for Cory, for anyone who holds Hope to cross his path – and share.

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  19. Your words never fail to touch me. Praying for him and will continue to...

    Thank you, AGAIN, for how you love and care.

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  20. Your words never fail to touch me. Praying for him and will continue to...

    Thank you, AGAIN, for how you love and care.

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  21. "They beg for help and Jesus looks at you and me..."

    this is where it's all at!
    are WE willing to look back into the face of Jesus and answer His plea.

    "when you've done it unto the least of these you've done it unto me."

    beautifully shared, shannon. i don't typically like conviction - but this i needed!

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  22. I've looked into those same eyes many, many years ago. It is so very hard to stand by and watch as someone you love so dearly struggles to find their footing. I would always visualize an angel touching the shoulder of my husband and walking along side of him as he struggled through a similar time after we first met. I saw that angel with him daily for years as I prayed to God to give him strength. It took quite a few years, but twenty-three years later, we have been immeasurably blessed. Stay strong and pray often Shannon. Thank you for reminding me of God's bountiful blessings in our life.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story of redemption here.
      I was just telling someone today, "Sometimes, there's nothing I can do but pray...and then I remember that's really ALL I need to do, the best thing I could ever do."
      So thankful your Love was rescued.

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  23. it is a powerful thing when we trust down deep that God is at work when we can't SEE him at work…when the work seems too big in our minds.

    it's so crazy at 40 to look back over my life and see how he has powerfully worked during all those years i prayed for my dad's addiction, for my parents' marriage, for my brother's salvation. he has answered all those little girl prayers. most of childhood memories include me praying like my life depended on it, because it did.

    after YEARS of praying and seeing nothing, i lost hope…i didn't trust.

    and then his answers came. my dad surrendered his life to Jesus…15 years later my brother accepted Christ….and in the last 5-7 years, as my mom has struggled with a chronic lung disease, her heart has completely melted for Jesus.

    My parents' marriage is being restored before my eyes.

    All those years I prayed….and nothing happened. It seemed SO completely hopeless and broken.
    But GOD was working. He was drawing them to himself.

    Praying for your friend to see how his story is weaved into God's amazing story of grace. Praying the truth of God's deep love for him penetrates his heart and sets him on the path God has designed for him.

    He is mighty to save.

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    1. This is so encouraging for so many of us. Thanks for sharing your redemption stories, T. Love ya, Lady!

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