Monday, January 21, 2013

Uplifted, Encouraged, And What Kind of Criminal Am I?

It's the first Upwards basketball game day of the season. Gabe and Zay are pumped. Primed. Ready to go. Zay's been at Upwards since he was a babe in arms. Watching. Waiting. But today is his day and the red and white uniform belongs to him. He'll charge through the tunnel when the announcer calls his name. Then he'll play like wild.

It's a big day in the life of my small boy.

Only my heart isn't light like his.

This morning a friend told me that "Held Fast", the story of Logan's cave rescue, was on the religion page of THE HUFFINGTON POST. This morning I decided to check it out.

Sure enough, the story was there.

So were a number of comments that pressed my heart hard.

How can people reject the Lord? How can man hold hostility for the perfect gift of grace?

So I sit and watch my boy. I clap and cheer and admire his sweet smile. But inside, something in me crumbles. Inside, I hurt for words aimed and hurled at the One I love. At the One who loved me first.

It's halftime now and the boys streak across the gym. Our family pastor takes center court, and his message holds my heart.

He begins with a joke about two little boys and a lie. It's funny. But the reality is, we've all torn the truth. We've all sinned. We've all fallen short of the glory. My sin-smudged self could never stand in the presence of a holy god.

Then our pastor talks about three crosses. The three crosses at Golgotha. They were for Jesus and two criminals. And while the Jesus and the two criminals were nailed to the crosses, one criminal hurled insults. Taunted. "If you are who you say you are..." But the other criminal believed. "Remember me," he said.

And Jesus said that he'll remember.

And the pastor asks, "What kind of criminal are you?"

I'm captivated. There's no doubt I'm guilty. I'm a criminal, of sinful thought sometimes before my feet hit the cold morning floor. Whether or not I'm guilty isn't the question. That one's not up for debate.

But what kind of criminal do I want to be?

I want to be the one who turns to Jesus. The one who believes. The one who says, "Remember me."

Half-time is over and little boys pump their legs and jump and shoot fast across the floor.

I feel so light, like I could jump and run now, too.  I know! I know which one I want to be.

The one set free by grace.


One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Luke 23:39-43


I thought it would be hard to believe in, but it's not hard at all
To believe I've sinned
And fallen short
Of the glory of God

He's not asking to change in my joy for martyrdom
He's asking to take my place
To stand in the gap that I have formed
With His real amazing grace

From "Awakening" - PAST THE WISHING by Sara Groves


  1. That's very cool that your piece got picked up by Huff Po. Ignore the naysayers. I think some people think the Internet is a good anonymous place to let out their fears and aggressions. I think they just skim and don't read carefully to get the true message, which from you is always inspiring! xo

  2. Thank you, Kathy. You are a great encourager. I'm grateful.

  3. I agree with Kathy, and also congrats on getting Hugg coverage! The ones involved, they know the truth, the meaning, some people will find negative in all things, but most people will find a positive message through your words. You always find a way to put light in dark places, and I know the story was hard to write, to condense, you did a wonderful job my dear!