Recently I read of a company in New York state that accepts second-hand materials, other people’s trash, and refashion them into high-quality handmade furniture. But more importantly, they are known for their business model and hiring practices. The company exclusively hire formerly incarcerated people. They train the ex-convicts as furniture makers, then give them freedom to create and sell their own furniture in the company stores, to create their own businesses. This not only gives them income, but it gives them a purpose.
I want you to imagine what it must be like to be a prisoner for 15-20 years. Finally, you receive the news that you’ve been paroled. You are free to leave the prison walls. Think of the excitement, the joy, the freedom you would experience as you collect your things and walk out of the gates.
But now imagine the days and weeks that follow. Have you ever considered how difficult re-entry into normal life must be for those previously incarcerated? During their imprisonment, it was bondage. But they knew where their meals would come. They had shelter and a bed secured for them. It was bondage, but it was predictable. Now, they are released into the real world and have to provide for themselves. They have to overcome the stigma of being an ex-convict. They have to learn to make their way in the world.
This furniture store recognizes that freedom is hard for those who are used to being imprisoned. It is not enough to be free from prison. They must be free for a greater purpose and they offer this to their employees. They help them to go forward into their new freedom.
Going forward with Christ Jesus the Lord means being rooted in Him. A tree is firmly rooted so that it gets the water and nutrients from the soil to grow and be healthy. It can withstand the storms that blow against it and endure times of drought because of its roots. The roots are hidden from view, but they are essential. Without those deep roots, the tree will fall over in a storm or die during a drought. When we genuinely trust in Christ, God roots us in Him, but we need to continually sink down more roots into Him.
Going forward with Christ Jesus the Lord means being built up in Him. This pictures a building under construction. The present participle indicates steady progress toward completion. If you have watched a building under construction, sometimes the progress is evident: the frame goes up or the roof goes on. At other times, you wonder, “What did they do there this week?” They were inside working on things you could not see, like the wiring or plumbing. Nevertheless, they are essential for the finished building to function properly. When you go forward with the Lord, sometimes there are obvious changes that others can easily see and there are those that can’t be seen but it is happening internally.
• Pray that we will seek opportunities to be the answer to the hopelessness that happens all around us.
• Pray that individuals throughout the Body will rise up as hope ambassadors and stand in the gap, releasing the light of FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE into the darkness.
• Pray that the Lord will help us to cease from religious striving and outward expressions only.
• Pray that He will energize our faith through sincere love.
• Declare that you are created for works of love that have been laid out from before the foundations of the world.
• Declare that the Body of Christ was created to be a movement of love, and that movement is coming alive in us.