What I learned in jail

“Her name’s Becky.”

That’s the description I once heard of the average listener of Christian radio. 

Having answered to that name before, I searched inside for a witty comeback and never found one. 

I’m not enamored with the music of Christian radio and keep close company with a few who’d block the frequency if they could. But one day I left the radio behind me and walked Inside - Inside, where a group of women dressed in orange were waiting for a Bible study to begin. 

It’s easy to think Us and Them when talking about inmates. But They are Us. Anyone in jail or prison now was just another member of the community, another neighbor, another parent, another sibling, another son or daughter. We’re all sinners, but they happened to dial the combination of transgressions that get the law’s attention. (Or, were accused of doing so.) I didn’t know the individual charges of the ladies in the room, but a veil of drug addiction seemed to lay on all of them. 

After the study leader walked through some Scripture, she handed me 8.5” by 11” printed lyric sheets to pass out and pressed play on the CD player. I thought I had left the radio behind me, but in my hands were the lyrics of a Christian radio chart topper. I scanned them and was consciously unimpressed. The music I heard was even more disappointing. I know better than ever what it takes to produce a record, and sometimes I’m confounded why certain songs and arrangements were deemed worthy of the effort. And why those songs end up as hit singles! 

But a sound interrupted my dissatisfaction. Multiple women in orange were crying, and we hadn’t even gotten to the chorus. 

The next song - another chart topper - started to induce similar disappointment, but I tried to suspend all snobbery and just sing. This was unto the Lord. And as I sang, the very words I would’ve dismissed as cliché emerged from the paper into my heart. Something about moving mountains - and the biggest burden of my life came to mind - and I knew afresh the Lord was present and aware - and his promises true -

And now the tears were in my own eyes. 

I remembered that night in jail that God speaks through simple truths to humble hearts.

God bless Christian radio. 


This post brought to you by Becky.

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