With one carry on bag and a torn ticket in your pocket, you think you’ve found a way out. Each passing mile sends the memories fading…you think. On greener grass, your bags have doubled and your mailbox hasn’t changed. When guilt sends you soaring, the past has a way of gripping every detail of your present. The future is out of reach.
Silence has taken your voice. The crease in your forehead makes you unapproachable. The curve in your back matches the limp in your walk. The mirror holds no reflection. Years of baggage have stolen your dreams. Forgiving yourself is not at the top of your to-do list. You simply don’t know how. Birthdays come and go. Christmas finds no cards on your mantel. Sadly to say, it’s all self inflicted. With great strength, you’ve managed to hold back the tides of caring family members and life long friends. You are your own worst enemy. You can’t forgive yourself. You no longer love yourself. Life has come to a screeching halt.
He can relate. With each step, the hill gets steeper and his past comes back stronger. This was not what he had planned for his life…any of it. There are plenty of people around…mostly onlookers..none of them friends. He has none. Life ended when his past became his present and future. He was by all means unlovable…unforgivable.
He wasn’t always this way. His childhood was average. Backyard football games. Sunday teams. Friday night dances. He was a good kid. Never made the honor roll but his grades held up. He was probably popular…especially with the girls. The long hair was in and he had a smile to kill. The light of his mother’s life. Even with no father around, he was a great kid. Everyone loved him.
Visions of his childhood run ramped through his head as the crowd begins to throw dirt and stones. It’s a hot day. The sun is boiling on his bare back. His feet manage to find every jagged rock. Mostly he stares at the ground. Not only is he unworthy to look eye to eye with anyone, he has become accustomed to hanging his head. The voices in his head reminded him of all the mistakes that brought him to this space in time.
Inside he was screaming!! He found himself shaking the kid he use to be. Warning him of his future. “Turn around!! Don’t go through that door!!! It isn’t worth it!! It isn’t worth it!!!” There is no one to listen.. and the kid in him just doesn’t care. No one does.
The crowd cheers louder. Not for him. As the soldiers draw their swords, he can see tomorrow. He isn’t in it. He’s always been afraid of heights. Never liked rock climbing, though today, he had no choice. Funny how facing your fear comes around whether you want it to or not. It takes 5 of them!!! Five well built, very tough looking soldiers to raise him in the air. There’s no use to fight. He deserves it!!!
Just one moment in time…one mistake…one lapse of judgement. The “what-ifs” take the last few beats of his very broken heart . This is it!!!! No escape…no hope…no turning around.
But wait!!!! The sun shines right above him…for the first time in 20 years, he looks up. It’s harder to breathe but he sees clearly. There’s a light…a light at the end of this very long tunnel. The voices scream louder than ever before. There’s a calm he hasn’t known since before that infamous night in history. Before he became a thief…a murderer. He has just enough breath for one request of the nearest stranger he can find…the only one within ear shot and eye contact.
“Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. For the first time since that night so long ago, he had found hope. If only for a moment. Somehow, he felt worthy for just an instant. Laying it all on the line without knowing whether he would be accepted…still, he asked to be remembered. Would no one else remember his passing?
Jesus could have said no! He could have reminded him of all the things he had done over the last 20 years. All the mistakes. All the people he hurt. Lies, cruelty, even murder. And his poor mother…Oh what he had done to her heart. Jesus could have run down a list of why nots. A trip down memory lane to prove his unworthiness. He could have. He didn’t.
“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise!” (Luke 23:43) All those years and all the sinner had to do was ask. Instantly, he was forgiven, loved, and received. No mention of his past. No need for explanations…just faith, and asking.
Nothing can separate us from His love!!! No amount of sin. Not an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, not a night of unthought-out drinking, not a divorce….nothing!! When your mirror holds no image, go to His. He doesn’t ask you (or me) to clean up our act before coming. Just that we come. When you can find no hope, when you can’t forgive yourself, when all hope seems lost…look up. Just ask.
“He used his servant body to carry our sins to the cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing.” (1 Peter 2:24)