Echoing Hallways

 

I went to visit an old friend the other day.  He and I have known each other since we were 16, working together after school during the week, on the weekends, and through the summers all through high school. 

 

I’ve visited him a few times in past few months and it’s really quite a sad state.  I’m always amazed at how just a few simple wrong choices from years gone by can lead a person to where they’re at today… where my friend is today… sitting in jail… 

I could tell when I went that he was beginning to get restless after being in there for so long.  The same walls, same room, same patio area, a revolving door of people, day in and day out.

 

As you walk in the visiting area to talk to an inmate, you’re separated by a thick soundproof, shatterproof glass.  Each of you sit down and pick up the telephone receiver and talk.  Your conversations are recorded, and your time is limited.

 

We talked about various and sundry things and before we knew it our time was up.  At the end of our conversation, I hung up the phone, waved my goodbye, and looking through the glass with my friend on the other side… I felt a kind of sadness for him. 

 

Leaving the visiting area at this particular county jail always gives you time to ponder.  There’s a long empty white hallway, where every step you make seems to echo miles off into the distance.  No pictures, no paintings, no windows… just the white walls, white fiber ceiling tiles, the white linoleum floor… and you.  Once you turn the corner at the end of the first hallway, it is followed by yet another long empty white hallway, and followed by another.  *clack*clack*clack* as the sounds of your footsteps echo off into the distance. 

After a minute or two of these long solemn hallways, what else can one do… but think.  

 

How could one have gotten themselves in to this mess?  Why didn’t they just stop, before it was too late? 

You think back: The crime they committed to land themselves in jail.

You think back further: The drugs they took that certainly encouraged the crime.

You think back even further: The person that sold them the drugs was their friend.

And even further: How they woke up one day and realized they couldn’t stop.

And further: How excuse after excuse was made that their actions were simple harmless fun times.

And back in time:  How all the education in the world can warn you, and correct you, and teach you, but in the end… it’s still your choice.

And back:  How starting out so young, and just trying something that seemed so innocent then, has morphed over time, and they wake up one day, sitting in a cell.

It could have been you… It could have been me.

 

I think of how my friend, and so many, many others have dug themselves into hole after hole in this life… How they wish they could be resolved of the crime or absolved of the guilt… Washed clean.  Debt free.  Forgiven.  Free.  No more paying for what they’ve done.  No more doing time.  Perhaps no more punishment in this life, or the mental torment.  No more working to earn their way towards a better something than this hole.  No more.  Finished.  How they wish they could be resolved of all of this, once for all…

Life seems to be just a constant battle, and a constant struggle, constantly paying, constantly falling back to square one, repeating the same mistakes over and over, and it seems like one can never break the vicious cycle. 

“Life is hard, and there’s no way to break the destructive cycle I’m in,” you might think.

Ah, but there is a way I tell you.  One Person. One Name. One Way.

“But it can’t be that simple,” you say.

But it is I tell you.

 

Now don’t misunderstand me.  While we are still responsible for things we do, and held accountable, by the government we live under or some other factor, there is still forgiveness through one called Jesus.  Through Him, there is no striving and working to get to a more moral place, so that we can earn our way in to a better something after this life…  It’s just a free, accept it if you want it, gift… But the thing is…  He has to be the only way.  He IS the only way.  He’s not one way, out of a many… for this cannot be possible.  He is not simply one to learn from to be spiritually ‘fed’…  He’s the way to be spiritually fed.  He’s not just a way to learn how to be a good person… He is the Way.  He’s not a made up crutch of an excuse to help one get through the day… He is real.  He is True. 

 

Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about when I talk about the life you’ve missed out on because of a sequence of choices over your life.  Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about when I talk about the constant striving to lift yourself up by your own moral bootstraps and be a better person, but you can’t ever seem to do it.  Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about feeling like you’re always getting beaten down by life, never able to get up, never able to get out.

 

You’re curious, but you don’t want to believe it’s that simple. 

Maybe you’re afraid of what you might have to give up.  Don’t worry… change is from the inside, out.

Maybe you’re worried about how someone might make fun of you.  Don’t worry… it probably isn’t as bad as high school was.

Maybe your pride won’t let you. 

Maybe you want so bad to be right, but it’s not working for you.  It’s okay.

You’re curious, but you don’t want to believe it’s that simple. 

 

My friends, it is that simple…  If you want to know how simple, please, go find someone who knows, find a friend who knows, or find me.

Request one simple thing from them: “Introduce me to Jesus,” and I promise you, my friends, that your life will never be the same again…

 


 

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