Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End (02/13/06)
TITLE: An End or the Beginning
By Annette Showler
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Towards the end of 2005, news came from America that a man had been executed after spending 18 years on death row. This was despite spending many years of his captivity reaching out to young, would be offenders of America, urging them to avoid lives of rebellion and crime. His 11th hour plea to the Governor for clemency was turned down, the letter that would have saved his life never received, and he died. Recently, news came of another prisoner kept on death row for 20 years, who was refused that final pardon to spare his life. This case some thought tragic, as the felon was not only old, but also blind and disabled. For both these offenders, their years of imprisonment were not considered punishment enough for their crimes against humanity. Good works were not enough to secure forgiveness by the State, and the decision was made to bring their lives to an end.
During my time as a prisoner on death row, I had no idea I was there. I had physical freedom, my life was my own and I was having fun. Marriage, children, friends and all the comforts of the western world were at my fingertips, I was free to “eat, drink and be merry” and I did. But the old phrase goes on to say ” for tomorrow we die” and unless we call out to God for a reprieve, then that is just what will happen – we will die, and we die for eternity.
Our natural state before God is as rebels, guilty, under judgement and deserving of punishment. We rebel against God`s standards and His will for our lives from the cradle to the grave, and in the process we injure Him and our neighbour. Our laws demand retribution for crime and in some countries; retribution is paid only by death. And yet God does not just see us as guilty. He sees us lost and helpless in our own ability to break free from `our` prison and break free of unseen chains of sin. Amazingly, God`s love and compassion towards us override His desire for vengeance, and He offers us clemency with full and free acquittal of all wrongdoing, and the letter that tells us of this wonderful grace is The Holy Bible.
Yet, this mercy was not without cost to God. The death penalty is required of each of us as punishment for living in sinful disobedience, and yet God, ever merciful towards us put a substitute in our place to pay for our crimes. This substitute was His Son Jesus Christ. Sinless, pure and holy, Christ looked upon each one of us, saw the chains and utter hopelessness of our situation and said to the Father “I will take their punishment, so that You can set them free”. But we have a part to play in this dramatic, life-changing event. God asks us to look into the face of His Son, recognise that we fall short of the perfection and glory that He asks of us, and ask for clemency. His response will be immediate forgiveness; we will know our chains have fallen off, and that we have been pardoned. Set free to receive the pure and holy love of God. Our reputation and good works will count for nothing, as in the case of the prisoner on death row. It is only through the sinless blood of Christ that we will find clemency and pardon
If you are one reading this who is unknowingly living on `death row` then make haste. You do not know when you will be called into the presence of the Divine Governor to make the plea for your life. God offers you clemency now and the letter informing you of it is the Bible. The means by which He justifies your freedom is His Son`s atoning death on the cross for you. This is the 11th hour and you are hearing His offer of a free pardon - if you hear His voice, you must respond for your eternal life is at stake. There can be an end or a beginning – the choice is yours.
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