I promise, I promise that I will not forever be talking about prison on here. At some point, the students will make an appearance again. It simply seems that the most striking things are happening in prison.
The other night, we were following a winding conversation that started from Sunday’s Gospel. We discussed being the one sheep that wanders away and how the generous love of the Father always seeks us out. One of the inmates reflected on how God’s love sometimes doesn’t seem gentle, as He protects us from worse things. He compared it to an experience he had as a father where he had to stop his child from running into traffic but that action made the child cry. Yet it was necessary in order to save the child from greater danger or even death. It was likened to prison, a place I’ve frequently heard them refer to as a place that saved them while also grumbling against it.
Another inmate listened to this and then quoted from memory, “The Father disciplines the one He loves.”
And that other inmate just nodded his head and said, “Thank God.”
Discipline doesn’t usually feel good, whether it is discipline given by another or imposed on oneself. But in that beautiful moment in prison, I desired to always respond like that man. I want to always say Thank God when it comes to receiving correction from the Lord or others.
Because of His profound love for us, He is not content to leave us where we are at. He loves us where we are, but love compels Him to push us to be more, to be better, to be closer to Him. The Lord seeks out the lost. Yet it is because He desires to bring them back to the fold, not so He can just look at us and say, “Oh, I found you. Carry on as you are.”
Instead, He finds us, regardless of how far we have wandered, and He tells us, “I never lost you. Come, return with me to the fold. Come, let me show you who you really are. Come, enter into my joy.”
Lord, help me to be thankful when You discipline me, knowing that all You do is done out of love. A love so deep and so broad I will never fully grasp its expanse. Thank You for loving me enough to always seek my greater good, even when I do not do that for myself.