So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, "If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32
The penitentiary in Darrington, Texas, is not a pleasant place.
The prison has three levels or tiers with rows of cells on both sides. In addition, there are special places for special prisoners. What kind of places? Places like the "dungeon," which is the temporary residence for prisoners who are being punished. Then, of course, there is death row. There, for one hour a day the condemned are let out and allowed to walk around. Of course, their walks never take them beyond the corridor of the others who are also condemned.
As I said, Darrington Penitentiary is not a pleasant place.
I've tried to imagine what it would be like to be a "dead man walking." What would be your thoughts to have a cell whose window is so high you can never see outside? What would it be like to have a hallway define the limits of your freedom?
What would it be like to be on death row for 27 years?
I can't begin to answer that, but one man at Darrington Pen knows exactly how it feels. His exceptional story was brought to our attention through the letter of another inmate, a man who had studied for years to become a prisoner-chaplain. Known as a "tier walker," this chaplain is allowed to minister to other inmates, including our fellow on death row.
Speaking for the condemned individual, the chaplain expressed appreciation for a Lutheran Hour Ministries' booklet that had touched the heart and soul of his pal. The booklet he referred to is entitled, Comebacks. How to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down.
The condemned inmate says he reads the book daily and the words -- the words which point to the Savior and the freedom He has won for sinful humanity -- give him hope. Nowadays, when he looks up at that high window in his cell, the light shining in doesn't remind him of the freedom he has lost. No, it reminds him of the Light of the world, Jesus, and how the day will someday arrive when the Lord will come back for him, set him free for eternity, and take him home.
This brings me to the point in this devotion where I can express my appreciation. First and always, thanks be to God who can set prisoners free, even the prisoners who are on death row.
But I also give thanks for you.
It is your ongoing support which allowed that booklet to be published and shared. It is your faithful donations which keep The Lutheran Hour on the air. Because of you, for more than 85 years we have taken Jesus to prisons, hospitals and communities where no pastor will ever preach and no church will ever be built.
On behalf of all those whom the Lord has touched because of your caring ~ my deepest appreciation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, bless the proclamation of Your Word and the salvation story throughout the world. Let hearts be saved by the Savior who is the Light of the world. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
To receive a free copy of the PDF booklet of Comebacks: How to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down, please click here. An audio file (MP3) is also available!
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries