Our Lenten Journey
with Dismas – Part 3
Today I offer three scriptural quotes:
God called out to him from the bush, God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.
Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert… These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us
“Do you think that because [they] suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all [the others]? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will perish as they did!
Pretty scary stuff, because when we hear the honest word of God, the alternative to living in Him and in His way, we face eternal reality. Live in God, follow His way, be His disciple, or die. When we are clearly told to set aside sin, walk away from it, to repent and go in the opposite direction, it is frightening. We face our weakness and wonder if we are strong enough to do it. In fact, we know we are not strong enough.
Dismas wasn’t strong enough. He wallowed in a sinful and destructive life that led him to a tortuous death on a cross. As a fellow Jew he certainly heard of God’s word to Moses. He knew the commandments and the penalties, the blessings and the curses. He was dying on a cross in consequence. The curses all came home at once.
We all must face the God of consequences, the honest God Who tells it like it is, without shadow or excuse. Reflecting on this, how do we see Him?
Do we picture this God as god in a Yul Brynner disguise? Is he god as the King of Siam in the ‘King and I?” Is he in a stance of strength, bald headed, bare chested, fierce, calling for his whip so might beat his slaves?
As Dismas looked to his left, in the midst of his curses, he saw a short, bearded, dark haired Jewish man. He suddenly he saw through his sin and inability, past the curses to the reality of God. God is the Gardener Who says: “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate it and fertilize it.” Dismas saw his chance to grow and produce even in that moment where his curses were overwhelming. Let us recognize our chance, the reality of God’s truth. He seeks only our growth and production. We must be honest in the face of weakness and rely on His strength. Let us see clearly and grab His chance.