You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, … to be made new in the attitude of your minds.
The Ride Home
Dale Hammock is 65. He is bald with a gray mustache. He is wearing shorts and a white T-shirt. He steps into a Denny’s restaurant for a bite to eat. The hostess walks him over to a booth where he sits down. Around him are the usual sights and sounds—the muffled drone of a dozen conversations, the crying child, the shouts of food orders to the kitchen, the burst of laughter, the clack of plates. And Dale Hammock is afraid.
He keeps looking around. He feels vulnerable. He is terrified of letting his guard down. Then the server comes with questions he’s not sure how to answer. And the knives and forks—so many knives and forks.
For the past 21 years, Dale Hammock has lived within the walls of a prison. Today is his first day of freedom. It’s the first day of his new life. But to discard the old mindset from prison is going to be a monumental task. “This is going to take a minute,” he quietly says with a grand understatement. “This is going to take a minute.”
Fortunately for Dale, he is not alone. Carlos is with him. Carlos is part of what is called “The Ride Home Program.” Carlos has been where Dale now is, and so he knows exactly how Dale feels. Carlos has done this many times. He picks up a just-released prisoner outside the prison wall and spends that crucial first day with him. He shares his own story. He talks about the challenges. He listens. He gives a lot of encouragement. And he tells the ex-prisoner that he is not alone.
But Dale Hammock needs far more than just one day, and Carlos knows it. And so at the end of the day, Carlos introduces Dale to others—others who can encourage him, others who can be there for him, others who understand.
You and I were prisoners too, prisoners within the four walls of our own sin. But then Jesus came. His life and death on our behalf broke down the walls and, through faith in him, brought us into our new life. In our new life there is forgiveness, light, freedom, and joy.
But the old prison mindset is stubborn. The old fears and darkness can so easily return. That is why you and I have a Ride Home Program as well. It is the Church. It is our fellow ex-prisoners. They all know that discarding the old prison mindset is a monumental task. They are there to share their stories. They are there to talk about the challenges. They are there to listen and give encouragement. They are there to remind me that I am not alone.
And most importantly, Jesus is there too.
Lord Jesus, you have washed me clean and set me free. Never stop refreshing my mind in this one beautiful truth. Amen.