“God, don’t throw me away.”
A talented teenaged girl, who knew how to write songs and play the guitar, was convinced by a persuasive music manager to sign up for an American girl band that would travel across the US in the 70’s. There was the promise of fame and fortune. Little did she know that aside from this, she was going to be lured into years of drug addiction, as well as sexual abuse.
I was reading her story in an article by The Huffington Post, how her band played to sold-out crowds, and fans cheered and envied her lifestyle, her public persona masking the misery of her private life.
In one traumatic event, she was given a date rape pill that rendered her immobile, while her manager abused her in full view of her friends, none of whom intervened.
She grew old through the years, as she wrote songs for the band. Disillusioned, wasted, and ashamed of herself, she scribbled in pencil on a scrap of paper, “Dear God, don’t throw me away.
She felt worn-out, dirty, and chewed up by the world. A throwaway child.
Do you know people who have wasted their lives because of wrong choices? Is there hope for the hopeless?
There’s another person I’m thinking of. This time, a man who ruined his life, about to die. Among his final words, “Jesus, remember me.”
The nerve of this criminal, this thief on the cross, to even think, that he can call on Jesus. How dare he, with his sinful lifestyle and criminal past, even believe that God would listen to him?
From the eyes of the world, his was a life that deserved to be thrown away. Scum of the earth, go away!
But Jesus didn’t look away. He listened, and responded.
And He said: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”
By all legal accounts, this guy deserved hell. Yet, here was Jesus, promising him heaven.
In the book of Luke 23:32-39, we find the reasons why:
Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified one on his right and one on his left.
The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. He saved others, they said, let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One. The soldiers mocked him too.
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself, and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
First step to his miracle: He was humble enough to admit, “I WAS WRONG.” “I’m to blame.”
No excuses. No blame-shifting. Just a simple, honest admission: “I was wrong.” “It was my fault.” “I sinned.” “I blew it.”
Second step to his miracle: He saw Jesus through eyes of faith.
“Jesus I believe in you even when circumstances don’t look like you’re in control.”
There was nothing God-like or powerful about Jesus when he was on the cross. If anyone saw Jesus in that physical state, they would not believe He was God.
His face was horrible, swollen beyond recognition, worse than a boxer in a ring. His whole appearance battered, bruised, and shredded. He looked so un-Godlike that bystanders mocked Him and spat at this weak shell of a man. But this criminal, looked beyond the bloodied, human surface of Jesus, beyond the nails that held him captive and saw the God within.
Despite what I see on the outside, despite the trouble and sorrow in the world, I choose to see Jesus. That God is here present, beside me. That God is still in control of heaven and earth.
“Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”
Third step to his miracle: The merciful response of God. “Today, you will be with Me.”
Because of his humility and faith, Jesus saved this criminal from hell and gave him paradise. The throw-away child threw away his pride, and was saved by the Redeemer of the world.
Every follower of Christ is a walking miracle. The fact that Jesus chooses to accept us and love us unconditionally, despite our sinful condition, is an act of mercy.
What the world throws away, Jesus has the power to redeem. There are no throwaway lives, when the heart is humble, for thats when Jesus enters the scene.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.