Scared Straight

6 04 2015

My son went to jail last week. It was part of a class project. He and his fellow students boarded a bus and were driven to a maximum security facility. The “field trip” was part overview of the prison system, part introduction to corrections as a career option, and part reality check. They toured the facility, walked through cell blocks, met with prisoners, saw the execution chamber, and even laid down on the lethal injection bed. He talked with one seventy-year-old prisoner who has been in jail since he was seventeen. It was a sobering and eye-opening day for my son. My son, who is a great kid, sent me the following text when he left the prison. “Mom, I’ve been scared straight. I never want to go to prison.”

His experience got me thinking. The realities of prison are shadows of the way sin holds us captive. Spiritually, what would it take to be “scared straight?” Sin has such a seductive lure. The world packages it with ribbons of pleasure, independence, and indulgence. Yet, when we rip off the packaging we find ourselves a little more entangled than we imagined. If we spent just five minutes in hell, would sin lose some of its luster and hold on our souls?

Walking out of the prison gave my son a different perspective as well. The open sky looked more expansive, the air seemed cleaner, the sun brighter, and his possibilities more open. Walking in Christ should feel the same way. The cross breaks sin’s chains, allowing us freedom to explore all the richness of life. We get to breathe deeper, see farther, walk taller, and know that the possibilities in Him are endless. If we spent just five minutes in heaven, would it ignite a passion within us that could not be quenched?

My Jesus Resolution today is learn the lessons of jail. The Bible shows me both the wretchedness of life without God and the fullness of a life in Christ. There are days in which I need to be scared straight – to be reminded of the devastating consequences of sin. There are days when I need to plant myself more fully in the realities of His love and rest more completely in the surety of His grace. Either way, today I want to celebrate the truth that I walk free because Someone redeemed me from my prison of sin. It is time to spread the good news.


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