Two thieves hung on crosses on either side of Jesus. They were paying the price for the crimes they had committed against the Roman government. Jesus, sinless, hung between them suffering and dying for their sins and the sins of the whole world.
One recognized his sinfulness and asked to be remembered by Jesus when he came into His kingdom. Jesus said to him “I tell you the truth, TODAY you will be with me in paradise” (emphasis mine).
He didn’t have a chance to live a transformed life, live to serve his Savior, or get baptized. Yet, Jesus tells him at the end of his suffering he will enter eternity and be with Jesus forever and that day was “TODAY”!
As the Intake Coordinator for the Colony of Mercy I have brought over 1,000 men through the Colony doors. This year Michael was brought in for intake by his sweet, godly grandma and two other family members. Michael was 39 years old, homeless for an extended period of time, and a dad of a teenage daughter. When he arrived he didn’t have much more than the clothes he wore. You could tell he was dearly loved and prayed for by his grandmother.
Michael wanted to turn his life around. He had been addicted to cocaine for many years and it robbed him of everything. But now things were going to be different. This was going to be his new start, a new beginning. His greatest desire was to be a good dad to his daughter.
Michael embraced the program….but more importantly he embraced Jesus as the Lord and Savior of his life after about five days in the Colony. I prepared a Spiritual Birth Certificate that declared Michael was truly a new creation is Christ. The old Michael was dead and a new Michael began a new life.
Then just a short ten days into his stay, Father God called Michael home suddenly after devotions, as Colony men and Colony staff prayed and asked God to spare his life. Yet this was not to be. Our hearts were broken and many asked that age old unanswerable question “Why?”
At his viewing, there in the coffin with him was a copy of Michael’s Spiritual Birth Certificate. As deeply as the family grieved at the loss of Michael as son, dad, cousin, uncle, friend . . .his grandma and grandpa, though deeply grieving their loss, found comfort that he was in the presence of his Savior Jesus . . .no more pain, no more struggle . . .fully healed. Michael didn’t have the time to be a godly father, grow in his faith, serve the Lord in his local church or even get baptized. But Jesus called Michael and said “TODAY you will be with me in paradise.”
Mary Ann Kiernan
Mary Ann serves as the Intake Coordinator for the America’s Keswick, Colony of Mercy and as a Biblical Counselor. She is a contributor to “Crossing the Jordan,” and “Real Victory Real life” Volume 2. She and her husband John have 2 grown, married sons and 6 wonderful grandchildren. Her life verse is Romans 8:28.