Incarcerated – Still Sitting on my Soul

by DanWolgemuth on November 8, 2019

From time to time over the last six months, a stagnant memory or reflection stirs in my soul as I think about 26 hours in lock up.

Most urgently I’m drawn back to the simple and straightforward process of “intake”. It’s the activity of separating the resident from the last remnant of personal belongings. Individual expression is eliminated, and uniformity is established. Clothing, socks, shoes, a few toiletries, and bedding.

Bedding… Sheets. A blanket. The end.

For an unexplainable reason, what tends to roost on my soul is the fact that residents aren’t given a pillow. A concrete slab, with a foam pad… a sheet, a blanket, but no pillow.

I’m sure there are reasons, and most likely, good reasons… but for the vast majority of these young men and women, the precaution is unnecessary. Yet, the policy and process exist. No pillow.

What was unexpected to me was that not having a pillow was more than an inconvenience. It was an assault on my dignity. An insult of sorts. Not having a pillow made sustained rest impossible. It was an interruption that fanned the flames of shame.

During the single night that I experienced this, I envisioned the twelve and thirteen-year-olds on the other side of a concrete wall who were doing their best to create a place for their heads to rest. Precious heads. Young heads. Misguided heads. Defiant heads. Confused heads. Hopeless heads… without the dignity of a pillow.

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20, ESV)

No place. Nowhere.

The beautiful head of the only begotten had no place. No rest.

The Creator. The King. No pillow.

Is it any wonder that Jesus invites us into the sacred space of bringing hope to those who have lost all dignity, identity, purpose and hope? He knows what it’s like to be shamed. He knows.

He knows each young person who wrestles to find rest. Each young person who grasps for peace.

To every young person… a simple message. Jesus knows. He knows the isolation. The loneliness. The disgrace. The restless nights.

To every young person… a simple message. Jesus redeems. Jesus ransoms. Jesus loves.

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20, ESV)

He clutches those pillow-less heads in His nail scared hands and kisses them.

Dignity in a new identity.

“I was in prison and you came to me…”

For every restless soul. For every confused inmate. Through the pillow-less shame.

Hope.

Jesus. He knows. And in some fractional way… so do I.

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I’m Busy…

by DanWolgemuth on November 1, 2019

“How are you?”

The question crosses our lips or pushes into our ears over and over again. And most often the reply swirls around some variation of… “I’m busy…”

Busy. Rushed. Maybe even squashed and breathless and frantic…

Have you been there? Are you there? Are the people around you there?

As always, the life of Jesus has something to say, to show and to model in this space. From start to finish, the ministry life of Jesus was three years long. Less than a Presidential term in office. Three years.

Did Jesus ever seem panicked to you?

Was He checking His watch, or His calendar? Did He ever answer a question with, “I’m busy?”

Seems to me that I should learn something from this. The Son of God, on a mission from Heaven. A mission to change the world, through a dozen young followers before His life was taken… and He never panicked.

No, in fact He teaches us the value and power of lingering. Of bending our schedule in the direction of spontaneous opportunity.

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. (John 4:39–40, ESV)

Two days. Two unscheduled days… Two important days, and not just in the lives of the Samaritans in Sychar, but in the guidance those two days provide us.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. (Luke 24:28–29, ESV)

In the small collection of days between His resurrection and His ascension, He had time to stay… to linger. To invest. To highlight what was most important.

Urgent, but never rushed.

On mission, but never panicked.

Focused and diligent, but never a bully.

I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)

Rest. In the storm. During the pain. Through the chaos.

“How are you?”

Jesus shows us the way. He always does. Through the conflicting priorities. In the middle of the mess. A peace and calm that impacts more than seaside storms.

In just three years. Loving. Lingering. And never rushed.

“Follow me…” Follow Him.

Jesus.

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Praying with a view…

October 25, 2019
Thumbnail image for Praying with a view…

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41–42, ESV) Jesus prayed with a view. His eyes stirred His soul. And His soul reacted […]

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A New Dial Tone

October 18, 2019

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5–6, ESV) Gracious speech. Seasoned with salt. It was just yesterday, I was driving home and merging onto Arapahoe Road, just […]

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15% Unleashed

October 11, 2019

Yesterday I received this update about Jackie Eads, a precious friend from Miami… Jackie’s heart is only working at around 15%… 15%. The number both discouraged me and inspired me. In reality, Jackie’s heart, functioning at 15% is more effective, compassionate, thoughtful, generous, wise, tender, focused, faithful, gentle, and loving than mine. At 15%. This […]

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Seven Miles

October 4, 2019

Another flight. Another push back from the gate. Another routine safety speech. We rolled unceremoniously to the end of the runway and as the 737 engines began to roar, a young child’s voice from several rows behind me pierced the moment… “Are we going into the sky?” Light laughter from those who could hear followed […]

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Unless…

September 27, 2019

Over the past 14 years, Mary and I have watched the beautiful pine forests of Colorado succumb to the onslaught of Mountain Pine Beetle and Spruce Beetle.  Hundreds of thousands of acres have been impacted. Vibrant, year round green, gives way to yellowing needles, then a season of lifeless grey… and finally dead branches lose […]

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His Plan For My Tears

September 23, 2019

              You have kept count of my tossings;               put my tears in your bottle.               Are they not in your book? (Psalm 56:8, ESV) These incredible words from King David are an invitation into authenticity. David’s pain is real. He’s lost in the agony of defeat. His hope […]

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Watch Your Language

September 6, 2019

Another routine optometrist appointment. My depleted supply of contact lens required it. After a short wait I was escorted back to my exam room by a young technician named Diego. He was thoughtful and engaging. He directed me into Exam room #2 and into the seat that would be my resting spot for the next […]

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Infinity Redefined

August 30, 2019

I watched with interest as construction crews transformed a quiet corner into a brick icon. Sitting on the edge of an expanding Aurora, Colorado neighborhood, tax dollars became classrooms. It wasn’t until the project was completed that I fully understand the vision for the project… a Cherry Creek School District Middle School. It was expansive, […]

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