Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hey Sarge!

A prison chaplain I know quite well sent me the following story about an incident last week:

The prison has been on a semi-annual lock-down for several weeks.  Tension grows from day to day as everyone, inmates and staff alike are ready for some sense of normalcy to return.  The chaplain was walking across the unit and men yelled from the windows of their cells as he passed, offering greetings and asking questions. The chaplain returned the greetings, joked and answered their questions as he could.

A sergeant came along the sidewalk, and the prisoners began yelling again to get his attention. "Hey sarge!.....(he ignored them).....Hey sarge!!......Hey sarge!!!"  He finally stopped walking, looked toward the building, and snapped in a loud, obviously annoyed voice, "WHAT?" The voice from the cell came back, (right here you can thank me for not typing the phrase of obnoxious vulgarity aimed at the sergeant.)  The next noises to be heard were heckles from the other prisoners.  The sergeant lost control. He had turned a bright red and the veins in his neck were bulging. He walked toward the building saying, "I know who you are and you are in for it now!"  More laughter came from the building of incarcerated prisoners.  

The chaplain stood there, not knowing what to say or do.  God blessed him with a scripture which came to his mind at just the right moment.  The chaplain turned toward the building and could see only the short, skinny window openings in the cells and quoted......"When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things." He continued, "You are not 12 year olds in the locker room.  It is time to grow up!"  A chorus of "Amen!" and "Preach it 'Chap!'" came from the cells within ear shot. 

Prison is a stressful place. Changes from normal routines, like lock-down, make it even more stressful. The chaplain says he didn't intend on sharing this publicly, and confessed he fought back the urge to make himself the hero. He does want us to know whoever we are, wherever we live and work, when we lose control we are opening the door for the Enemy to win. 

I sought and received permission to share the story here, mostly because of my messaging the chaplain some additional questions I had. He confirmed it was a true story of an actual event in a Texas prison, but the reply from his mouth, made to the prisoners, came from God, and not his own thinking.

I probably do not have to tell you that we Christians are sometimes guilty of losing our cool, flying off the handle, unable to exercise self-control, or whatever description you wish to give. This chaplain's story is a testimony to God's willingness to help us in those situations, even to the point of giving us the words to say.  There is at least one unit of incarcerated felons that witnessed it last week.  Perhaps we should be more aware of God's Spirit living in us, by allowing him to give us the right words to say, and allowing him to guide us into making right decisions in stressful times.


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