"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit,
to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you."
Psalm 51:12-13 (NIV)
I had been visiting the jail for the past four Tuesdays. This day would be like none other. The jailer informed me that I would not be able to see the person I had been seeing. She asked me if I would see another resident. I agreed. She threw the switch, and the steel door opened automatically. I stepped inside not knowing who I would be meeting. The door moved back and locked.
At the steel picnic table, in a drab battleship grey room, sat a young man about 25 years of age. I introduced myself and the man unloaded his regrets and his fears. He had gone out one night, gotten drunk, and did something awful. He told me he had four children at home between the ages of ten and one.
He had been given a Bible and had been reading it. He told me he knew that Jesus had died for him, and he was forgiven. Yet, he needed to hear it from someone else. I assured him it was true. He went on to say he wanted to be with his family and friends in order to warn them not to follow in his ways.
I had the young man read Psalm 51. It begins, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” When he finished reading, I pointed out the words at the beginning of this article. This man’s desire to teach transgressors God’s ways was the same as King David.
I asked if he had been baptized. He said ‘no’, but that he would like to be. We reviewed God’s grace found in the water of Holy Baptism, and God’s ways happened right then and there. No walls of steel, no weight of sin, and no burden of grief can stop God’s means of grace!
Dear Heavenly Father, Creator God, we praise and thank you for your unfailing love and mercy found through faith in Jesus who died so we might live in peace. Empower this young man to fulfill the desires of his heart and to teach transgressors Your ways. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.