The room was completely full, and I was feeling stressed. We had traveled from Texas to Alabama a couple of days before and now were locked in a smallish room with 125 guys in an Alabama State Prison. My brothers and I are in a band called Willow City, and we were in Alabama to do music ministry for the inmates.
If you’ve ever visited a prison, you know it’s not an incredibly pleasant experience getting in. Metal detectors. Frisking. Every piece of equipment, every instrument case had to be opened, taken apart, examined, and put back together. The guidelines for apparel and how much I could move on stage were strict, and I was constantly on my guard, prepared for the worst possible situation. I was way out of my comfort zone.
The ministry we went in with arranged for us to visit a different prison each night. Three stops were maximum security. (Gulp!) It was the fourth and final night, and we were at a maximum security prison that holds over 1,500 inmates. I was feeling anxious in a room filled to the brim. The preacher introduced us, we grabbed our instruments, and we headed to the front of the room. All eyes were on us. With only one guard in the room, the vulnerability of the situation was scary, so I tried not to think too hard about it. As we began singing worship songs, the absurdity of the situation suddenly made me want to laugh.
I was in a prison!
This was crazy!
How did I get here?
The men were smiling and clapping. Hands were raised in praise to Jesus. We worshiped and celebrated, and I stood there looking out over a crowd of men who had made mistakes (just like we all do), and who were living the rest of their lives inside these walls to pay for it. But Jesus was with us. Few times have I ever felt Him as strongly as I did that night. And I realized something, something that He’s been teaching me for a while, but that really hit home in that prison chapel.
Jesus is upside down.
He takes this kinda quirky, safe-place living, comfort-zone staying girl from Texas and decides to send me into a place where I felt totally uncomfortable, vulnerable, and scared to show me that I’m not meant to live in a normal way, to teach me what it’s like to live an upside-down life.
Not What You’d Expect
I’m sure He does the same for you. As Christians, we’re all called to live in an upside-down way. Think about how Jesus lived. What’s the logical thing for a popular speaker to do? Surround himself with influential, upstanding men in the community. Not Jesus. He chose filthy fishermen, corrupted tax collectors, and then reached out and ministered to prostitutes and the demon-possessed that no one else wanted anything to do with. That’s upside down. He touched lepers and dead people. That’s upside down. He taught us to love others more than we love ourselves. That’s upside down.
Jesus said all kinds of upside-down things. Things like this:
“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it” (Luke 17:33).
He has called us to live upside down in a way that loves, serves, and gives unreservedly, a way that goes against what we naturally feel, a way that pushes hard against the grain.
Practical Ways to Live Upside Down
How do we live in this upside-down way? Here are some ideas.
Actively look for ways to live upside down. People don’t expect other people to be selfless. Prove them wrong, and put their needs before your own.
Ask Jesus to open your eyes. It’s not always easy to see opportunities to live upside down. Pray and ask Him to show you where in your life you can serve, love, and give to others.
Think of practical ways to bless those around you. Get someone a glass of water. Do someone’s dishes for them. Fold the laundry for your mom. Sometimes it’s the simple things that mean the most.
How have you found ways to live in an upside-down way? I’d love to hear in the comments.