. . . nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39
Do not park in the front drive.
Do not take anything into the visiting room.
Sit at all times.
Do not touch the glass.
I drive to the jail, which I have passed many times in my life on my way elsewhere, to the grocery store or to school. Today, it is my destination.
I circle the parking lots to locate the proper place to park and I walk to the visitors’ entrance. I enter the east door where about a dozen people have already gathered to visit their family members. I look at their sad faces. Although we live in a small town, I don’t recognize anyone, yet a bond exists among us: we are all broken, hurting people. I sign in, present my driver’s license, and fill out forms. Then I wait.
At 11 a.m., an officer unlocks and opens a steel door. About twenty people file out, including a number of children. One visitation is over and another is about to begin. The officer motions for those of us waiting to enter. I follow the others who seem to know the routine.
The long, narrow room is filled with cubicles, each with a bench bolted to the floor, an outdated phone attached to the dividing walls, and a small wall of glass, designed to separate the visitor from the inmate. My body flinches as the steel door slams behind me. The others quickly and habitually take places at the various cubicles, obviously familiar with the practice. I follow their lead, sitting on the last available bench. The female inmates file through a door on their side of the glass – all looking strikingly similar in their faded coveralls, their disheveled hair, their blemished faces, and their lonely eyes – all looking very much like my daughter. They quickly find their places across the glass from their family visitors and begin their conversations over their phones – some crying, some laughing, some angry.
Where is my daughter? Did they forget to inform her she has visitors? Are they refusing to allow her visitors for some reason?
But there she is, the last in line, looking not at all as I expected . . . (Click here to discover the continuing story in When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers.)
She enters the room. Our eyes meet. And so we sit, the glass between us. My hand reaches to her as instinctively, as immediate, as it did when she came out of my womb. She is still my baby girl. Our hands are near. And I can feel her soft skin just as if I were touching her. We talk through a phone. We speak of love and forgiveness. We speak of redemption. We speak of a future.
And it reminds me of the love of God. The love that reaches and never lets go. The love that cannot be separated by glass or metal or anything. The love that takes the things in our lives, even the bad, and works those things for good to those of us who love him. It reminds me of His forgiveness. Of my redemption in Him. Of my future.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
A buzzer sounds, echoing through the metallic framing, and bouncing off the block walls. Our time together is over. But we have rejoiced together because, you see, nothing can separate the love of a mother and her daughter.
So our hands separate, leaving prints on the already dirty glass, and I leave for now, saddened by our present circumstances but rejoicing in the nearness of God.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble . . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39