Note: This is a two-part blog. Join me on a journey that passes through one of the largest (and most dangerous) prisons in Honduras.
I had a most unique and multifaceted experience in one of the largest prisons in Honduras. It was unique because I was in a prison. It was multi-faceted because the things of God are always filled with immeasurable depths and levels of understanding.
First, let me describe a spiritual encounter I experienced the week prior to my visit to Tamara prison. It was a Sunday, just like any other Sunday with one small exception. In the midst of prayer and worship, God revealed a deep rooted and hidden issue: fear. At the time it felt like terror! It sprung from depths I was unaware existed and daringly stared me in the face. What are you going to do with this fear? My initial response was denial and then as acceptance poured in, my tears poured out. I didn’t know it then, but God was in the process of replacing my fear with His love. We are still in process.
A few hours later, I confronted a deeper revelation of my struggle with fear. Such revelations are the Holy Spirit’s specialty and the danger of interior contemplation. But what a sweet reward it is when the spirit finds healing, peace, and growth. As my old friend G.I. Joe used to say, knowing is half the battle. The other half is what you do with the knowledge.
Obviously, my spirit was in prime reception mode (and high alert!) after acknowledging and (eventually) welcoming the work of the Holy Spirit. Emotionally weak and mentally overwhelmed, I picked up where I left off in Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, where for the third time—in two days!—the gentle and loving Presence of God softened my hard exterior and penetrated the depths of my heart.
Manning’s discussion was on the love of God and the necessity of the disciple to love others and to be loved. “The nature of God’s love for us is outrageous,” he says (p.172). It’s undignified and our love for others should be the same. Where does one start to love outrageously? Why, ourselves, of course! Quoting Carl Jung, Manning continues:
“[W]e are all familiar with the words of Jesus, ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me.” Then Jung asks a probing question: ‘What if you discover the least of the brethren of Jesus, the one who needs your love the most, the one you can help the most by loving, the one to whom your love will be the most meaningful—what if you discovered that this least of the brethren of Jesus. . .is you?” (pp. 173-174).
Slow down. Just meditate on that for moment. What if the least of these—a reference we often assume refers to someone worse off than we are—is actually you? As I read those soul-searing words, I realized with great humility how in need I am of God’s love. Perfect love casts out fear. Again, just meditate on that in your life and circumstances.
So what does this have to do with a prison visit in Honduras? Find out in Part Two: The Joy of the Lord.