Sunday, April 8, 2012


Dull blue eyes gaze at me as we are led into a small room. "I'll check in with you in a little bit", says the nurse. I thank her. Turning my head the little boy has sat down in a sofa chair and eyes me warily, eyelids heavy, as he tries to comprehend this new turn of events. I can see evidence of uncertainty in his young face, but also evidence of medications. Though present, he is not fully with me. He tries to comprehend, but is drifting. The elixir of psychotropics is potent in his young body and my heart aches for him. I am in a hospital. More precisely and politely, a "behavioral health hospital for children and adolescents".

Today is Easter Sunday. Church was powerful and communion was poignant as we pondered the true nature of the amazing sacrifice represented in the cracker and juice. The torn body and the blood spilled. We left filled with thanks for the sacrifice made for our salvation, our hearts encouraged. Then we put our faces to the task ahead; a hospital visit.

And here I was, with a nervous little boy who barely knew me, and was so drugged that his head barely stayed upright. On my way up to his room I passed what were called "counseling rooms". I could not help but note the occupants through the windows of the doors of these rooms. Some were in a similar state as this child. Some were in worse states. All were obviously medicated to a lesser or greater extent.

I turned my full attention to this precious boy and for the next half hour I pestered him with questions, made silly faces, talked about things of small consequence, and simply tried to connect. At first I met with little success as his young mind simply tried to reason why I was there at all. As his apprehensions slowly began to subside I was able to show him the card that other children had made for him, the small pictures they had drawn on it for him. We discussed important topics such as the best kinds of playground equipment to play on and which train was better, Thomas or Chuggingtons.

Finally, we found a critical point of connection - remote control monster trucks. Under the umbrella of this topic, this sweet boy's mind finally relaxed and I began to see him, see through the haze of the medications to who he really was. It was like shining a flashlight into a well and seeing someone in the bottom wave back. We even managed a giggle when we discussed chasing my cat around with an R/C truck - something he said he definitely would need to come over and do sometime. I just might let him (I have a tough cat).

Through it all, I began to see this beautiful child, not for what had caused him to be admitted to this place, but for who he truly and deeply was. Even though medications dulled the senses and capacities, he became animated and alive in our short visit and I saw him briefly freed from the confines of his surroundings and transported back into the full happiness of carefree childhood, even if only for a few moments. Visiting hours ended far too abruptly and I left the card, coloring book and crayons with his nurse as I walked with him back to the group room. Then I began the process of extricating myself from this "hospital" and on more than one occasion had to knock on locked doors to gain exit. I, too found myself a prisoner and this stayed with me as I left the hospital: "imprisoned".

These children were not just physically imprisoned. Yes doors are locked, for very good reasons I'm sure. To be honest, I think even if the doors were unlocked the sheer maze of hallways would prohibit most from exiting unwarranted. None-the-less, physical barriers are certainly in place, but what I noted most strikingly was that these patients, these children were imprisoned within their own bodies and minds. As mentioned, I witnessed others in similar states as the boy I visited and all of them shared the same closure of the mind, a shrouding of the senses.

This is heart wrenching to behold, particularly in the eyes of a child. One is supposed to see vibrancy and life in the eyes of a child. When gazing into the face of a small one, a brilliant reflection of vitality and innocence is supposed to be before us. Something is very wrong when we are greeted instead with dull, lifeless, drowsy eyes. When vitality is replaced with lethargy, the balance is off and the world is amiss. When "the least of these" suffers, we do not have a means to justify this inequity. We desire to right the wrong and set them free.

As I was leaving the hospital today, God dropped something on me that gave me pause to ponder.
My child, you were imprisoned.
You were locked in your own mind, in your own thinking and I set you free.
My child, you were sick, lethargic, lifeless, and helpless, and I healed you and gave you new life.
You were chained to death and your own sin habits and I destroyed those chains.
Beloved, you were imprisoned and I fully discharged your debt and purchased you.
You have been discharged from a future apart from me in hell.
Today, the world celebrates because I set you free.

We celebrate Easter, we gather around family dinners and remember the sacrifice on this day, but God would have us ever thankful. God would say to us, "remember often", because there is not a day that goes by that the blood that was shed does not atone for our misdeeds or purchase our entrance to the throne room. There is not a day that goes by that the body that was bruised and torn does not purchase our healing. Conversely, there should not be a day that goes by where we fail to give thanks with the same thanksgiving for the sacrifice made as we did in our observances this day. Our debt has been discharged for all eternity and we have been adopted as sons and daughters of the King, each of us made completely free.

Galatians 5:1 states "So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free..." (NLT)

God did not define us by our sin, but by who we are. He KNOWS us intimately and longs to draw the true 'you' out through the haze of sin and corruption into the freedom of life that He has for each of us.  His Word is a clarion call to bring us out of darkness to the light and life of freedom that he has for us daily.  He states in John 8:32 "You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free."  Embrace it.  Freedom is free to all who will receive it.  The cost was beyond reckoning but it is extended to all every moment of our lives.

One other piece of good news. My little friend, he gets discharged in a couple of days - and there's a big Easter basket waiting for him when he gets home.

No comments:

Post a Comment