I work in a church and a prison. It still makes me chuckle how similar they are and how they complement each other. Both are very male driven & led institutions. Both share the contrast between captivity and liberty. Both are places that echo God for me.
Of course they are very different. The church works to make its environment comfortable and welcoming to all. The prison is stark with empty halls and clanging steel doors that separate each segment and people. It takes a little getting used to. Security officers manage the movements through the building by watching activity on monitors. Each door also has a buzzer to ask for entrance.
Moving through the prison can be challenging at times, but there is another side to these doors that echo God to me.
As I walk through the hallways I come to a locked door, at the end of every hallway, at every housing block. Sometimes I have to buzz and request entrance. More often than not, the officers are watching. As I approach a door I hear the buzz that tells me the door has been opened for me. There are days that I travel the whole prison, given entrance to all the doors by an unseen but watchful person.
Those are the moments that I smile, not at the fact that I am well liked enough or trusted enough by the officers that they buzz me in before I ask. I smile because God does something similar. Does He give me everything I want or enable me to do whatever I desire? Nope. But I have this sense of having His watchful presence around me. I am not alone, even in the dark and the barren hallways of life.
Many inmates find God in prison, but it surprises me that I did.