Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Prison Blue

There is no one who does good, not even one. Ro 3:12

A father and his son, standing against a wall printed with trees and streams. Dad in his blue scrub top, roughing his son’s hair and then drawing him close in love for the picture. I had promised to visit my friend in Pleasant Valley Prison and was angry with myself when the prison receptionist reminded me of the seven years since my last visit.

They assigned us a table. My friend and I talked and laughed, and I watched the tears in his eyes for three and a half hours before he returned to his lifetime cell and I drove back to Fresno to catch a plane to the family I love.

Lot’s of deep thoughts from that visit---but the picture that hangs in my brain is a father tussling his son’s hair and then pulling him close against the artificial forest while his wife pointed the camera.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Sometimes as a doctor I walk proud in my role. Sometimes as a Christian I feel good about myself.

But when I look at that father in prison blue, loving a son whom he could only pretend to really know, faced with a legacy not of pride but shame, I am humbled.

I know in truth that there is nothing that father could have done that I am not capable of doing, given the right motivation and the absence of God’s protection. I am at my center a sinner saved only by grace, empowered to live free from my sins only through the power of the One who lives within me. I make my rounds and sit in my church and hold my loved ones as a good man only because of the good in the One who died to break sin’s grip on me.

Dear God,
Please bless that man in blue. Except for You, I am he.

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