It was a warm and humid night in Santa Barbara. We had two worship services, an adult Sunday School class between services, and an all-church taco-dinner honoring our Children's Director. A 6:30 jail service was the last thing I wanted to do. The sermon from the morning (Ezekiel 33:7-11 "Watchman") seemed rushed and not as full of life as I would have liked it to be. I was hurried and distracted. So I was grumbling to myself on the way to jail.
But 23 guys in blue jump suits and orange socks and shower slippers were waiting for us eagerly. We were herded into an adjacent classroom and they began choosing songs to sing from the song-book with an accompanying music track. They were contemporary praise and worship songs graciously recorded and provided by Calvary Chapel here in Santa Barbara. At the end of the song time, one of the guys asked to sing "Amazing Grace." We did not have the mp3 player that we normally use for the 3 hymns selected. So I suggested we stand and sing it a capella.
The 23 guys stood, some with hand up or open, with eyes closed and sang at the top of their lungs all six verses. But when they came to the stanza that begins "When we've been there ten thousand years..." And I looked around at this rough group of guys and realized I would be singing with them for the next ten thousand years! I got a brief glimpse of eternity as I watched and listened to them sing together. When we were done I said that I'd better learn to love them now because we were going to be hanging out together for a long, long time!