What Did I Expect?

I expect to find sinners in jail.

As a volunteer jail chaplain, I met women inmates who were prostitutes, thieves, drug addicts and dealers. And yet, I was not repelled by their crimes, or hedonistic acts.

God gave me a heart for these women.

My fearful personality morphed into boldness when I sat among women inmates behind bolted, metal doors. For I loved telling them about God’s redeeming love. I also loved watching God work in their lives.

WHY do I react differently when overt sinners, Outside of Jail, cross my path?

Recently, I left my Christian bubble and ventured beyond the comfort zone of my small hometown.

20141016_112316I wasn’t in jail. I was in a high-class hotel in the heart of Chicago’s business district.

I wasn’t with criminals. I was surrounded by well-educated men and women, wearing power suits and Rolex watches, who climb the ladder of success regardless of the collateral damage they cause on the way up.

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I knew “I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.” Nonetheless, my skin crawled when someone blatantly sinned, and then I overheard the crude comments and laughter of people who observed it.

The Pharisee rose within me. I wanted to cast stones, and avoid these sinners who felt no shame.  Then again, what did I expect…surrounded by lost souls?

Earlier that day, I asked the Lord to give me His eyes and ears as I walked the streets of Chicago. Throughout the day, random strangers returned my smiles, exchanged friendly conversation, and showed me acts of kindness I did not expect in a bustling city where skyscrapers like Trump Plaza block heaven’s view.

So my joy took a nosedive that evening when the eyes and ears God gave me, allowed me to witness a….

  • World where sin reigns in the hearts of people who reject Him.
  • World which prefers darkness instead of the Light.
  • World that God so loved that He sent His only begotten Son, ….to seek and save the lost…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).


Yes, leaving my Christian bubble to visit Chicago opened my eyes. However, years in jail ministry showed me three things that remain true:

  • NO ONE is beyond God’s grace. Not a criminal, not a millionaire in a power suit,..not even me.
  • RELATIONSHIP with unsaved people does more than Bible thumping to open hearts to hear the Gospel.
  • THE HOLY SPIRIT does the work of salvation. 

I can plant seeds of faith and water them faithfully as opportunity allows. I cannot control who is saved, or when and how it happens.

I can only control how I respond to each person, saved or not, that crosses my path.

Will I love them like Jesus, friend of sinners?

Will I point them to Jesus instead of pointing fingers at them?

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans  5:8)

Author: Karen Foster

I'd like to say I've changed, but after decades of living, I still have the same four passions. My relationship with Jesus, spending time with family, attending live theater, and writing devotions & first-person stories about a loving, faithful God who reveals Himself in our every day circumstances.

8 thoughts on “What Did I Expect?”

  1. Good thoughts, Karen. At our home, we are wrestling with this after the senseless shootings and killings in our area, in Washington, in N.Y.,, and in Ottawa.
    Though our world is a mess, you’re right, why should we expect less…it is a fallen world.
    Good thing God is still on the throne and will, in the end, bring it all under His authority….ahhahhahh…I feel a blog coming on : )


    1. Preach it sister! I wrote this blog because I was processing everything I saw and felt, along with God’s Word. While I felt condemnation stirring inside of me, I could hear His voice saying, “I love them too. Until they take their last breath, my grace is available to them too.”


    1. Your’re right, Diane, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 I think Christian forget from whence we came…and there but for the grace of God, go I.


  2. Awesome…our sermon in church this morning was all about loving like Jesus loved…building relationship with sinners and letting the Holy Spirit do his work without pointing fingers. Thanks for the followup reminder! 🙂


    1. Really? Sorry I missed hearing the sermon. 🙂 It’s a topic the Lord’s been teaching me throughout the past month. It’s difficult to know how to love like Jesus and not appear as though we’re condoning sin.


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