I had my first experience in a police station last week. I put my criminal mind into overdrive. Got your attention? Thought so…
Before you start wondering what on earth I have been up to, it’s all good. Well, sort of. We are undergoing the arduous process of gaining Canadian citizenship (yes, we have been here for 18 years, and yes, I procrastinate), and for some reason I was red-flagged in my application.
I know, it’s utterly unthinkable, and my family thought it was hysterical, but there it is. Someone with my name or similar qualifications on their personal history has been in prison or criminally convicted recently, and they think it’s me. And it isn’t. Obviously…
In order to clear my name and continue the citizenship process, it was requested that I pay a visit to my local cop shop and have my fingerprints taken. Good grief. And so I dressed extra nicely, put on my best-ist smile and paid the lovely policemen a little visit.
The front desk experience was fine. The policeman was super-friendly, took my fee, and sent me around to the side of the building where I would be buzzed in. I’ll admit, I scanned the area just in case someone I knew happened to be walking past, and when the coast was clear, I was admitted entrance “inside”.
OH MY WORD. There I was, on my lonesome in a stale smelling, claustrophobic, windowless room with concrete walls and concrete floor. The holding room. Just me and a huge pin board with 60 (I counted them) faces of wanted criminals, staring me down. Freaked out? Why, yes, I was.
Once I got over my initial intimidation, I started reading their blurbs, and even prayed for the several women pictured among a sea of hardened men. Their eyes looked so sad, so desperate. Honestly, I don’t ever give much thought to criminals, and I felt rather bad about that. I did a stint singing in prison ministry as a teen back in the U.K., but it’s not been on my radar in forever. But this was a reminder to me that there are SO many hurting people out there. Many of whom I’m never likely to rub shoulders with, but each of the photos on that board screamed the need of HOPE.
I literally trembled when I was taken into the fingerprint room, fitted out with surveillance cameras in an ocean of beige and grey. I looked petrified in my mug shot, and for some reason felt guilty as my fingers were rolled over the electronic equipment. I wondered what it would be like to be falsely accused of something and thrown into jail.
I remembered One who was falsely accused and punished for me, suffering the worst kind of injustice willingly and lovingly. Jesus died for all- criminals and churchgoers alike. He even reached out to the criminal next to him in his final hours on the cross. His grace and mercy amaze me.
I have to say, even though the whole ordeal lasted about 15 minutes tops, and the policemen were nothing but kind, I couldn’t bust out of that place fast enough. The outside air felt fresher and the birds chirped just a little louder after my brief experience inside a criminal mind.
Freedom is precious. True freedom in Christ is priceless. Live it out.
“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, USE YOUR FREEDOM TO SERVE ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE; that’s how freedom grows.” Galatians 5: 13-14. The Message.