But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
-1 Corinthians 1:27-29
Asher is currently the “oldest” detainee at JCF. At 15, he is certainly not numerically the oldest. But every other juvenile of the approximately 145 came after him; and every juvenile who was there when he arrived has left. Ever. Single. One.
Jesus knows how much this fact broke my heart when Asher’s peers announced it to us at our last visit. There is a bizarre relationship between Joseph and me and the other boys in Asher’s group. We are certainly more mom and dad to some of them than their own parents. And we are far more invested in our child than any of their families are in them. So, many of them test us to see how we will respond to the setbacks in Asher’s progress or the less exemplary aspects of his incarceration. I think they are secretly hoping we will continue to love Asher and accept him thereby proving that perhaps they are loveable and acceptable, too. We’ve grown accustomed to it and are usually able to take it with a grain of salt. But it nevertheless grates on the nerves when every visit is punctuated by some announcement about what Asher did wrong or how he didn’t meet certain expectations.
Still, this was a surprise.
“You mean to tell me that every other boy and girl in this entire facility has been here for less time than you?” Asher was a little morose and obviously ashamed. He was quick to point out that while he is the most senior boy at the moment, he does not hold the overall record for longest detention. “Well, that’s a relief,” was Joseph’s rather sarcastic reply.
I wonder what it must feel like to be separated from your family for three years as a young man. I wonder what it must be like to live in a cell that locks you in night after night. And I wonder how it must be such an embarrassment that every other person in the entire facility has managed to leave – but you have not.
And then I think about my own heart.
God’s word tells us that He chooses the foolish things to confound the wise. He does this specifically to keep any human from boasting in His presence. And I am cut to the quick. I want to have the answers; I want my paltry efforts at fixing our family to produce amazing results; I want a lot of praise and affirmation for the lengths to which I have gone. In essence, I want to have a wisdom that allows me to boast in the presence of Yahweh.
My son’s dubious honor knocks me off my high horse in no time flat. But instead of wearing a cloak of failure and wallowing in a mud pile that reeks of self-pity, I read 1 Corinthians 1:27-29. God chooses the foolish things – the things that are base and folly like a son who sexually abused his siblings rather than seek help from parents who loved him. God chooses the weak things – like my fragile efforts at loving a son who has devastated my heart. God chooses the low and despised things of the world – like Asher who is scorned by a society that fears to address sexual perversion almost as much as celebrating it. He chooses these things to prove that the goodness that works in this world is not because of man’s great abilities but because of God’s great kindness.
I don’t like that Asher has earned this title. Of course, the nature of it means he will hold it until he leaves. But what I don’t like even more is the way Satan continues to try and lure us into believing that the shame is real and we must carry it. It was never my burden to save my son. So I don’t need to carry the shame of failure. And Asher can know that Christ forgives to the uttermost so that any boasting is done for the glory God.