Lockup!

I get addicted to the weirdest television shows! My latest fascination? MSNBC’s Lockup. Lockup delves into the lives of inmates in America’s highest security prisons. Currently watching Season 1, filmed at San Quentin in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I am absolutely hooked. 

(Warning! If you end up watching Lockup, be advised the language is colorful and themes dark.) 

The inner workings of prison life are staggering. How correctional officers organize their day to keep 500+ men under strict control and how prisoners manipulate their day to break-up the sheer boredom are always at odds. I have to say, it is amazing how resourceful these gentlemen are! From making gifts for families back home out twisted toilet tissue and magic markers to creating weapons from melted plastic coffee lids, necessity remains the mother of invention. 

I find the prisoners’ stories most interesting. These men have had hard lives on both sides of the law. Understandably, inmates have many complaints about their circumstances. At first I found it ironic for a prisoner to complain about prison conditions. After all THEY made their own mistakes, right? But, thanks to watching Lockup, I have begun to see humanity behind the bars. Criminals live, just as we all do. Civilians complain about traffic jams or burnt coffee just as convicts complain about their restricted yard time or shower conditions. The kicker is that inmates have an “outside” to compare to the “inside”.

That got me thinking, I was once imprisoned just like these inmates. 

Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”Spiritually, I was in a prison before Christ brought me into His kingdom. In fact, we all were born as slaves to sin – slaves that were bound in chains, much like these prisoners.

Imagine being born into sin. The mental image which comes to my mind, albeit disturbing, is that of a newborn baby lying on a cell block cot. Imagine that little infant growing up in a maximum security detention center, never knowing there was a world beyond the concrete walls and razor wire fences. You might think I’m out of my mind, but I am trying to place a word picture in your mind. Spiritually, we were born into those same conditions. 

Praise the Lord that He calls us out of bondage and darkness into His glorious light. Praise the Lord that He was rich in mercy and made us ALIVE together with Him, seating us in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:4-6). While I am grateful that I watch Lockup from the comfort and freedom of my own apartment, I am infinitely more grateful that my soul rejoices in the joy and freedom that comes from life in Christ.

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