A prisoner at the right place at the right time: A story for Lent.

That story about the criminal on the cross next to Jesus catches me off guard every time!

I’m sure, earlier in my life, I felt a bit of envy when hearing the story about Jesus welcoming this dude into Paradise. “Not fair! We served you all our lives, and he gets the same reward?”

But that changed 20 years ago when I began working with prisoners. Just last Sunday I started getting choked up when Pastor Nate read Dr. Luke’s account of that familiar story. And that reminded me how I get choked up every time I hear Gloria Gaither read an account of the same story. And that prompted me to share her reading with you…something I encourage you to savor in this season of Lent. It’s called The Misfit, it was written by Bob Benson, and it was taken from his book LAUGHTER IN THE WALLS.

It seemed to be his lot, he was one of those unfortunate people,
With a talent always to be in the wrong place … always at the wrong time.
He was born wrong: The declining Roman Empire, the broken home.
The conquered Jewish nation, the poverty-stricken slums.
He lived wrong: When others went to school, he played hooky,
Others played ball, he stole apples.
Others learned trades, he learned to cheat.
Just a common thief … he started wrong, he lived wrong,
And it looked as if he’d finish wrong: The wrong place, and the wrong time.
A Roman cross, a painful death … A final shame.
When, from the middle cross, came words of redeeming love:
“You shall be with me in Paradise!”
In all the stream of history,
One and only One
Of all the numberless sons of Adam could have said these words
… and he hung beside Him!
In one instant his life, given to evil … thoroughly misused,
Doomed to die, was changed and ended in crowning glory,
It was the one sentence without which there is no success,
It was the one sentence which redeems all failure,
And it was said to him at life’s final flickering moment.
The one most important issue of all was gloriously solved:
At long last, he was in the right place at the right time! 


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