This is Part 3 of our new devotional series “An Awkward Stance”.
Good morning, peeps!
I have decided that I will be going on a 3-day fast at the end of this week. I feel led to. I really do. I woke up with this in my spurrit. I feel like this fast is something I need – halleluyer – to keep/bring everything in alignment with God. I mean, the spiritual and the physical benefits are endless. Y’all. They are endless. No, it’s not the Daniel Fast. It’s the “I Don’t Want To Eat THAT” fast.
I’ll be in prison this weekend.
I feel like Chaka Khan right now: I can read your mind. Some of you are thinking, “Whose blog am I reading??” It’s all good, folks. I am part of a ministry team that goes into the correctional system and ministers to inmates. It’s actually pretty cool and this weekend, I’ll be leading worship for about seventy-five women at the nearby correctional facility. I did it last Fall and I cannot even describe how amazing it is. Let me put it this way: prison ministry has just about ruined me for any other type of ministry. For real, for real. Y’all can minister to the free folks – let me go into the prisons. To see those women worship like they have lost their minds, knowing full well that in a few hours they’ll be headed back to their cells…man.
I really have no excuse not to live full-on for Jesus. None.
There were a few times during worship that I had to keep my eyes focused on my sheet music because I knew that if I looked up at the women, I would burst into tears. Or fall off my stool. There is a song titled “Undignified Praise”. I now know what that looks like. I honestly don’t know how they did it. They were so free while…not. I mean, I was sitting there leading worship while being bound up with my own stuff. I was more imprisoned than they were. As my pastor likes to say, “Not all prisons have bars.” This is true. I had a great time. Everything about that weekend was wonderful. I lie. Not everything was wonderful. And that bit of un-wonderfulness is the reason for the fast I feel led to go on.
And I’m doin’ the leading.
We arrive at the prison by 7 a.m. each morning and leave around 8 p.m. Team members are encouraged to eat a filling breakfast before we arrive. Notice the time period we will be there. What two meals are in that? Lunch and dinner. We do not get to leave the grounds to grab a bite, so what do you think we eat? Yep. There are no Christianly words to describe the look and taste of prison food. There just aren’t any. Like, only severely-offensive words come to mind when I think of it. It’s…well, I don’t know. Wait, I got it: it’s Balboa Mist. That’s a paint color by Benjamin Moore. Google it and imagine what that color would taste like. Not the paint, but the actual color. That’s it. It’s Balboa Mist. To me. It is that to me. There are some, though, who find it rather delicious. You wanna know who those ‘some’ are? Prisoners. Those who have had to eat it to survive.
Y’all, I was tempted to use just the initials of “Balboa Mist” until I realized what that would look like. Well…ijs.
Now, I’m about 99.999% positive that none of them were eating Balboa Mist before they were incarcerated. They ate meals that were colorful and flavorful – pleasing to the palate. Food that tasted like food. Food that looked like food. Balboa Mist is not that. No. And somehow they eat it. They’ve had to.
They’ve acquired a taste for it.
There’s a new show on TV that follows newly-released inmates as they adjust to being back on “the outside”. I can’t think of the name of it, but I know it starts with a “r”. Guess what the first “I’m home” scene is? A family dinner. Released. That’s the name of the show. You will see the person sitting down in front of a heaping plate of their mama’s best “I put my foot in that right there” dishes and they are going to town. And someone always says, “I couldn’t wait to get real food. Prison food was awful.” Hold up: it couldn’t have been that bad – you ate it.
I got used to it. I had no other choice.
There are two things I really want you to grab ahold of in the beginning of this series: ‘choice’ and ‘stand’. Tomorrow, we’ll start digging into Daniel’s choice when it came to eating the king’s food. Notice I said ‘choice’. Daniel made a choice.
The stand happened long before that.