We only know about him because he held the unique and dishonorable distinction of being a thief, and one who was caught at that. He died in disgrace, poverty and agony. He was tortured, crucified and died.
Thieves often come under cover of darkness, in confusion, or perhaps on social media; places where they can easily hide and are rarely called out. And thieves- they can be so compelling. They are often masters of disguise, presenting themselves as one thing all the while working underhandedly to steal and destroy. Thieves are con artists- they are the masters at bait and switch. I would venture that many unwitting, well meaning people have handed over that which further damns the thief to their ultimate demise. Thieves are, by definition jealous people who are not content with their lot in life and perhaps even work to destroy that which they claim they now want or was taken from them.
The well known thief on the cross probably worked under cover of night, or in secrecy, or in a crowd, but died in broad daylight, exposed and disgraced.
We’ve all done it. Shared that juicy tidbit, been outraged by accusations, shocked at what we’ve just heard. In fact, I would venture to say that a good thief- one has honed their craft- is subtle enough to tweak the facts just so, so that the we see a bit of truth in the claims, “Ah yes, I always knew he was demanding- I see how he’s a bully,” But few – if any of us- actually go to the person who is the true victim of thief’s crime to seek truth. Reacting to a claim takes little from us. Acting as a Chrsitian takes everything.
But let’s be honest, we are all thieves. Each one of us. We’ve all claimed what wasn’t ours, been jealous and petty, said a little – or big lie- to justify our own sin. Projected onto others so that we are not discovered. We’ve all taken something precious and destroyed it. We’ve all defiled the purity and holiness of the Living God; stolen from others and bankrupt them; stolen from ourselves and defiled what and who are called to do and be.
We are all thieves, hanging on the cross- disgraced, found out, naked and exposed.
Some of us proudly jut out our chins and die, sealing our fate. Others of us accept the free give of mercy and salvation and recognize that the man in the middle holds the power of life and death with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. His arms- stretched out on the cross- nailed there in humiliation – have the power of life and death, hell or resurrection.
We are all thieves. And we can all look to the Man in the middle. It’s not too late- whether we are successful in our thieving or exposed. Either way, the Living Christ is the truth holder and knows of our disgrace, death, corruption, jealousy, bitterness and hate.
The one hanging there is the middle- HE is the Living Christ. He offers the free gift of salvation to all who believe. He has raised the dead to life- each one of us- dead in our transgressions, if you only look to Him and believe! Alleluia!
Twelve years ago, our house had burned, my 47-year-old sister had died unexpectedly, my oldest ended up in an E.R. several states away with Bird Flu, our contractor was crooked, we moved three times in ten months and threw away 90% of our possessions. We moved back into our partially finished house during the worst flooding in our region’s history (though last year topped that). My dad died a few months later.
One thing we all have in common right now is that life is uncertain.
And with that uncertainty comes anxiety, fear, and possibly depression. Stress. Will we get sick? Will we get better? And will we have a job? What will the world look like in 2, 4, or 6 months?
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Maybe right now you can relate to these words that I wrote 10 years ago:
I have been tossing and turning for nights. If there were an Olympic event for turning 360’s under the covers- I’d win. Cause while we are home, we are far from settled. The house remains undone and critically demanding from both a time and money standpoint. I feel pulled in a 100-directions at once for a myriad of reasons. Like Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, flurrying around, scurrying in all directions, wondering if she should pack the kitchen sink for their flight from imminent danger, flustered because she’s worried she won’t make a good impression, concerned that Mr. Beaver will fall into the path of danger. Geez, man, she’s a worrywart.
Oh, how I relate. Cause I’m faithful and true and a diligent and hard worker and busy and industrious and mindful of things, and thinking of what’s next and on and on. But I’m concerned. Concerned about all that’s not being done and what’s up ahead and how I look and what’s next.
When Mrs. Beaver finally meets Aslan, his comment to her, which sets all things right in her life is, “Peace, Beaver.”
And with those two little words, the High King sets it all straight. He recognizes who she is, calls her by name, dignifies her presence and speaking words of power and might, and straightens the crooked places by His ruasch, alive and manifesting His strength and vision for her. The fussing and stressing and striving cease and she can relax in His presence knowing He’s got her back.
Sunday’s Coming! I’ve had a hard time getting there for the past many months. I’ve been grief-stricken and weary and flustered. And it’s not that things aren’t better than before, we have been blessed in amazing and profound ways; it’s the process of how they’ve gotten that way. Inventorying time and materials, thoughts and actions, sorting through possessions that were meaningful because of memories or people, profoundly feeling the loss of family, moving yet again in a matter of months.
Looking at Our Circumstances
I look around at all of the projects and consider how we’ll make due this fall and feel, oh so rocked by the waves of the circumstances. The work is something we enjoy, but the amount of it seems ominous, and while Dr. Dh is confident we’ll get it done, it’s all in the context of a day job and homeschooling and the living that will take place around it. And I see how we get tired and sore in a way we haven’t before. Age, stress, and the demands of the year manifest themselves in practical ways.
This year, in the midst of the chaos and flurry of once-in-a-lifetime circumstances I’ve longed for ritual. For benchmarks that say it’s this season or that. This is what you do when, the words you say now, the posture you take in response. I’ve needed guides, markers, mindless actions to go through that indicate time and life go on in a sensible and pleasing pattern despite disruption and chaos and hurt and fear and unrest and inconclusiveness”- the ritual and meaning and confirmation of faith and death and loss and living.
God is Our Refuge
My youngest came up to me where I was sitting a few days after we moved back home and said, very quietly, “Momma, the fire scared me.” Just so plain and simple and straightforward, but sad and apologetic, like her little 7-year-old self should be braver. The very fact of being home again, I think, finally allowed her to say these simple words. I said, “I know, Baby, of course, it did.” And she crawled into my lap and snuggled against me, curled up like when she was two, and stayed there for a while. Later she looked up at me and smiled and gave me a big hug and hopped up and went to find kittens to play with. I’m grateful she could be as little as she needed to be and snuggle up with someone older and bigger and stronger and sit and soak in my strength and comfort until she’d absorbed as much as she needed.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble. … Come and see the works of the LORD. Psalm 46:1
On so many levels, I’ve felt like my little girl and I’ve wanted to say the same thing; “The fire scared me, Sue’s death rocked me, I feel the loss and lost.” And I want to feel and hear and know Abba is saying, “I know, Baby, of course. Rest in My peace. I’ve got you. Despite the worry and chaos and confusion and disorder and the house undone and work ahead, I’ve got your back.”
And He does.
I know He does for me and I know He does for you!
Sunday’s coming! And with it, the Living Christ!
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