More teenagers like David Franklin need to be arrested. The world would be a much better place. I had the privilege of booking him in.
As a correctional officer I had grown somewhat cold and cruel the last year. My cynical scowl felt frozen on my face as I scanned the young man’s paperwork.
“Let’s see, you’re charged with Disturbing the Peace. I bet you’re pretty proud of yourself.”
“I am proud, sir.”
I had to lower my reading glasses so I could take a better look at the new inmate. His t-shirt was white with the red initials FFF air brushed on it and his blue jeans actually fit the way they were supposed to.
I pushed my glasses back up my nose.
“It says here you were disrupting worship services at Countryside Church.”
“Matter of opinion, sir. To me raising your hands and crying out to the Holy Spirit isn’t against the law.”
I had to peer over my glasses again.
“Do I know you from somewhere?”
“I don’t know if you know me, sir, but I know who you are. You were Denise’s dad.”
“I still am.”
“Yes, sir, I’m sorry. I mean, I just went to school with your daughter. You might remember me from then, or the funeral.”
I immediately pushed my glasses back up to my eyes.
“Okay then, let’s get you booked in. Do you have a job?”
“What do you do then?”
“I volunteer for the Emerald Coast Regional Prayer-port.”
“I didn’t know we had an airport.”
I lowered my glasses again.
“How did you know my daughter?”
“We were prayer partners and friends. I really liked her. Denise was always nice to me.”
I pushed my glasses back up.
“What is this Prayer-port you volunteer for?”
“It’s a group of young people who intercede for this part of the State.”
“What do you do for them?”
“I’m in the Fighting for Fire Department. In fact before the accident, Denise…”
I had to take my glasses completely off and paused to wipe my eyes.
“I’m sorry, sir. It must still be painful for you.”
I finally just set my glasses on the desk. I didn’t need them to read anyway. I just wore them to keep from having to see far away.
“What is this fighting for fire thing anyway? I remember Denise trying to tell me about that.”
“Some churches, sir, seem to unknowingly prevent the Holy Spirit from flowing in their services. They just have so many programs and schedules, He gets boxed out. We try to pray for the release of His fire and presence. I had a burden for the Countryside Church because I knew that’s where…”
“Where Denise used to go?”
“Yes, sir. She really wanted the real-deal in Church and for you too. She really loved you. She thought you would make a good preacher someday. She wanted to see you on fire for God.”
“I don’t know why God decided to take her when He did, sir. But, I know I’m here now, and you’re still sitting on the other side of that desk. Maybe I was arrested for a reason?”
I desperately wanted to put my glasses back on, but I threw them in the garbage instead. There was a moment of silence between us.
“How would you like to go to the Countryside Church with me and my wife this Sunday, David? We haven‘t been going.”
“Sir, I really don’t think my dad would be too happy if I was put in jail again.”
“Well then, I’ll just get arrested by myself.”
“I doubt that will happen, sir.”
“Because I think you standing there will be more powerful.”
“More powerful? Don’t sell yourself short. Your obedience and courage are changing my life. I work in a jail, and you’re setting me free. I’ve imprisoned myself, been afraid to look beyond my own discomfort. I need the fire of God’s love again. I see that now. You keep fighting for the Fire. I’m going to join you. And by-the-way, that Prayer-port thing is a pretty creative take on airport. Who came up with that?”
Forgotten warmth, now seemingly familiar, began to flow over me. My face slowly thawed, relaxing into a rare smile. I felt like the first green sprout of spring, slowly recognizing the sunlight of a new season.
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