Ezekiel 3:9 NLT I have made your forehead as hard as the hardest rock! So don’t be afraid of them or fear their angry looks, even though they are rebels.”
I was doing a church service in a local jail one day; though not everyone was always pleased to be in service, the majority generally were and after worshiping the Lord a little bit we usually managed to pull the rest of the fellas along with us. In many jail facilities there is a weekly shuffle of different ministers and flavors of church affiliation that are ministering so there would sometimes be a “who are you? And what are you going to be preaching?” hesitation, especially when you did a service for a pod or wing you didn’t normally frequent. Anyway, this particular day I don’t think anybody wanted to be there… including myself.
The men filtered into the room in their bright orange suits and all sat to the rear of the room leaving the front row and most of the second completely empty. Then they just sat there looking at me. I thought I was being a fairly ingratiating person walking up the aisles, shaking hands, introducing myself, trying to crack some jokes and break the ice, but it was falling on deaf ears. Then I strapped on my guitar and slid the transparency for the first song on the overhead projector and began to play my guitar and sing as loud as I could in that dreary room. A few halfheartedly sang and a couple even began to clap until they realized no one else was going to join in. Still, I pressed in and began singing another song. About halfway through that song as I looked out among the men who had mostly sat down and were just staring at me and chit-chatting amongst themselves I began to get a little anxious. Their looks said they didn’t want to be there, they didn’t want to listen to my twangy voice, and they didn’t like me very much. I began to have some fearful thoughts, and thought about heading to the phone to call the Sergeant to send an officer to take them away. I wanted out.
Then I had a brilliant idea… Ask the Lord what I should do. I began to just play a few chords and in the quietness of my heart, I asked the Lord what I should do. He told me there was someone there who wanted to believe but just wasn’t sure that the Gospel was true. Immediately I knew what to do. I put the guitar down and although I was still intimidated and uncomfortable I told them what the Lord said, and told them that Jesus was alive and I could prove it. The air felt like it got sucked out of the room, but at least I had their full attention. Then I offered to pray for whoever was in that condition (wanting to believe, but just unsure because the Gospel sounded too good to be true), with the promise that God would show up and prove the He was alive and real.
I persevered and didn’t just take the easy out of calling for the guards. Being alone in a room of inmates with some scary faces, nearly got my knees to knock, but the Lord had sustained me and I was reminded of my purpose to minister God’s grace and love to them. You can trust in the Lord and He will give you the fortitude and strength to stick to the mission and calling. He’ll help you be bold when you want to run. Don’t be afraid of their faces, you have the light, life, and truth of His Word that they need. Fear Not!