Guest Post by Amanda Cave of Furthermore Ministries
On this day, I spoke in the most secure part of the women’s prison. Inmates are placed here for a myriad of reasons. They may have violent tendencies, they may not cohabitate well, they may have psychiatric challenges, or they are there because they are a danger to themselves. Because of this, each inmate has their own cell, and though they are highly secured, they have the option to be encouraged in their faith. Ministry in this section of the prison is known as “door to door” in which a ministering volunteer goes door to door, speaking through the glass with those who would like to receive prayer, or discuss faith, be they, skeptics or believers.
As I finish praying with one woman, I slowly move on to the next cell when I see a woman through the glass of her door waiting to talk with me, she is a red-head covered with freckles. She is the same height as me and has four empty tattoo tears, two under each eye (tattoo tears represent the loss of a loved one, but empty tears represent that the loss loved one has was murdered). With a gentle smile, I introduce myself and tell her that I’ve come to talk to her about Jesus.
For the sake of privacy, I’ll say her name is Bailey. As I speak to Bailey, the woman in the cell to the right is singing at the top of her lungs, and the woman in the cell on the left is banging against the wall. I listen to her with a laser focus, and within the first minute of our conversation, she tells me that she is a self-mutilator and that she has attempted to kill herself three times. She then showed me a scar on her throat from where she tried to commit suicide. By the length and placement of the scar, I know it is only by God’s grace that she is alive. She then begins to tell me about growing up in foster care, and other personal things that I will not share out of respect for her.
She tells me, she’s been reading 20 Psalms a day out loud to bring her mental peace. I instantly thought of my own struggles and the long list of scriptures that I have read over and over to take captive the destructive thoughts of my mind. I thought of the folded paper, printed with scriptures that I kept in my back right pocket for over a year that I would pull out and read in bathroom stalls when I was in public but needed God’s Word in times when mental battles raged within me.
At this moment my heart opens like a flower before her. I am fully engaged in her story.
She then asks me what she can do to stop cutting herself, words of a recent blog post from, Desiring God, that I had read entitled, “Lay Your Weapon Down: An Invitation to Cutters,” came right to my mind. As I offered insight and words of affirmation, the Deputy said our conversation had to end so that I could to speak with other women. As I prayed for her, I sensed her deep desperation for God to help her. I prayed that God would continue to reveal to her that her life is immensely significant. “Show her how valuable her life is to You Father.”
I left the prison that day with the full awareness that every soul is in need of God’s love. Every soul is longing to experience a love that says, “you are welcome here, you belong, you are desired.” Every heart yearns to hear, “your life matters, it is distinct, and is of immense worth.” Every person craves to be fully known and thoroughly loved. I see no greater picture of this than in Christ.
The story of Christ and the cross is the most moving of love stories. While old movies depict love as a rescuing hero willing to risk their life to save their long lost love, our Savior endured far greater dangers. He did not only risk His life; He gave it. He faced the greatest of horrors and experienced extreme degrees of pain in the name of His unwavering love. In the movies, the hero may be willing to die in the name of love, but it is always in the name of the one who loves them back. Christ shows us a colossal love in dying for those who cursed Him, rejected Him, and physically nailed Him to the cross.
This love reveals that all our lives are immensely valuable to God. The cross is proof that God will never leave us or forsake us. We’ve been searching our whole lives for love this faithful. It is a love that makes life worth living. It is the love of the Father, and I pray that you, Bailey and I would know it in greater degrees each day.
(Copyright for Significance Found remains the property of Amanda Cave and Furthermore Ministries)