“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
— Luke [23:43]
THE CHOICES WE MAKE
A business friend of mine, Bill, related to me his story of accepting Christ. He had been troubled for a very long time that his life was out of control. Bill’s business gave him a lengthy “to do” list every day. He had stocks he had to keep track of weekly. He was a father and a husband. He was constantly pulled in numerous directions by outside interests. He felt he had nothing left that was worthy to give. He described this moment in his life as one of abject despair. He wasn’t sure why he felt this way. His job paid well. His financial situation was strong. But his spirit was beaten. He needed to turn in a different direction. He began reading the Bible and attending church, to look for answers. Slowly he saw a different life. A life with Christ that didn’t require a hyper-vigilant focus. A life that was more outward and less inward.
“Bill had stepped back and his vision improved.”
Bill gave up reading newspapers. He gave up creating lengthy “to do” lists. His focus on money abated. His list of worries dwindled. He became focused on his community and family. What he discovered was that he didn’t need to read the newspaper every day. Bill discovered that his employees could do their own “to do” lists. He discovered that his excessive attention to detail wasn’t needed. Life still came at him in waves, but he was better equipped to handle the stress. His focus became that of what he could control, and he left the rest to those who were better equipped. Bill had stepped back and his vision improved.
“The one who acknowledges Christ receives the path to spiritual freedom.”
Today’s verse was directed to one of the two criminals who were dying on their crosses next to Jesus. One man mocked Jesus and implored him to prove he was God, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The other man rebuked his companion by stating that they belonged on the cross, but Jesus didn’t. In turn he asked Jesus to save him and let him into the Kingdom. Jesus agreed and spoke the words in today’s verse, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” It was simple for one and impossible for the other. The one who acknowledges Christ receives the path to spiritual freedom. The other remained stuck in his past and couldn’t accept there was a different way. A way of being released. A way of spiritual freedom. A way to see life from a different perspective.
“Jesus offers us another way to live life.”
Our challenges may be not nearly as dramatic as the scene on the cross, but they can require a change in the choices we make. We all at various times have to choose what we follow. Do we continue to be slaves to a world that pushes us into deeper detail? Do we choose to try and control every facet of our lives? Do we continue to let faraway events affect our being? Jesus offers us another way to live life. Another choice versus our current life. Jesus offers paradise. A way that will still have hardships, details, and worries, but will change our perspective on what is important. We will turn away from a world that we can never satisfy, toward one that holds promise. Life will still happen regardless of our choice, but how we handle life will change. Our choice will make us more available to our neighbor, a better parent, and a better spouse. We will turn from fearing that we have missed something to an embracing of the good we can do. We all have this choice.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
What are the difficult choices we have to make?
How do we make these choices?
Can Jesus help?