Feb 19, 2018

by Steve Peterson, PCA Board Member

Many years ago when I was in college, I decided to hitchhike from where I was going to school to another city where I had friends.  It was winter.  I found myself dropped off at an intersection in South Dakota where, let’s just say there wasn’t a McDonalds anywhere close by.  It was cold and dark and for a while there was no traffic.  I thought to myself, “Hmmn, cold and dark, this could get seriously dangerous here pretty soon, maybe this is one of the examples of why my mother doesn’t want me to hitch hike.”  I saw in the distance, and I mean far distance, a yard light and a farm house that radiated a small, warm glow.  I thought of a family inside gathered in warmth, light and love.  A wave of loneliness, and even something close to despair momentarily rippled through my consciousness.  So this is what happens when you make bad choices.  You end up cold and alone and maybe even in danger of worse.  I wish I would have thought through this a little better!”

We are in the season of Lent.  “Ashes to ashes, we all fall down.”  “From dust we have come and from dust we will return.”  A ride came for me, miraculously, it felt like.  But I have never forgotten that feeling of vulnerability and helplessness on that cold dark crossroads so long ago and how my own choice to hitch hike, especially under those winter circumstances in that geography, resulted in my standing there all alone with my feet and hands starting to go numb, looking longingly into the too far distance at a light of home and love and warmth enjoyed by others.

Prison is a lot of things, of course.  But I imagine that folks who live there experience, have experienced, continue to experience what I experienced, however fleetingly, that night at that South Dakota intersection in that cold, dark night of my soul.  These are people really not as different from me as I would often like to think, sometimes very alone and afraid, standing outside of light and warmth and love, knowing their bad choices and maybe even doing things their mother told them not to do have gotten them standing numbly in a very bad place.  Thank God for Prison Congregations in America coming to the God-miraculous rescue.  “Hop on in, PCA says, get in this gospel car headed to a place that is safe and warm and full of love!  Right here in prison there is a place for you surrounded by the light and love of Christ and his followers.  These followers of Jesus are, like you, ashes to ashes, dust to dust people not unfamiliar with the cold and dark, now gathered around the eternal warmth and light of God’s love for ALL people.  Come on in, Jesus and we have been waiting to bring you home.”

Category: Faith

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