Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Lock and Key (08/21/14)
TITLE: Jesus is the Key
By Jenni Starkman
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The steel door slamming shut jarred Gus out of his prayer. He was now separated by a window partition in the visitor section of the prison. He had been summoned by the hollow man standing before him with blue eyes as cold as the steel bars that locked him up.
The orange-clad person pressed his tattooed hand in greeting against the glass, along with a feigned smile. “Thanks for coming, I’m Jason.”
Gus’s gnarled hand returned his greeting, but he smiled warmly. I’m Gus; happy to meet you, Jason. What can I do to help you?”
Surprisingly, Jason wasn’t even coy. “Isn’t it obvious? I need help getting out of here. I’m locked up for the next ten years unless you can help me.”
“So you think I’m going to be your key out of here?”
“I hoped you could help….”
“I’m a chaplain; I help people with their spiritual needs, not temporal ones. May I ask what crime you were convicted of?”
Gus waited to see if Jason would add to his rap sheet, but Jason didn’t volunteer any additional information.
“Do you believe in justice, Jason?”
“Should you pay for your armed robbery?”
“Maybe…but ten years?!”
“The judge thought so. But, Jason, you have another penalty you can’t pay; to a higher judge. Well…, you can and will pay it, but you’re not going to like that penalty either.”
“What you talking about?” Jason scowled.
“You have to pay a penalty for your crimes against God.”
“When you break God’s laws, those are crimes; God calls it sin. Have you heard of the Ten Commandments?”
“Yeah, of course, I have. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t lie, don’t have idols, don’t commit adultery, obey your mother and father, and all that other stuff.” Jason ended with a snuff.
“Have you broken any of God’s Commandments. All you have to do is break one to be found guilty?”
“You know I have. I already told you I robbed someone…a few others, too.”
“Then you're guilty.”
“Yeah, but I went to catechism, and I was confirmed when I was young; and I was even baptized as a baby. He’ll take all that into account. There’re worse people than me in this place.”
“Those things won’t help and God doesn’t compare you to other people. You answer only for yourself.”
“How about if I do some sort of good work? Say the rosary or something?”
“Nope. Jason, any acts of righteousness are like filthy rags to Holy God.”
“What are you saying?” I thought you were a chaplain. You’re saying you can’t help me?”
Gus shook his head sadly. “I can’t.”
“So what’s this penalty that God’s going to give me?”
“Eternal separation from Him.”
“You mean He’s going to send me to hell?”
“You’re going to send yourself there.”
“You’re crazy. I’m not gonna do that!”
“You do that by rejecting Jesus. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. Jesus came to pay the penalty for your sins on that cross. No sin is too great. But you have to ask him to be your Lord and Savior.
I can’t help you, but Jesus can.
Jesus came to set the captives free. When you find Jesus, even though you may still be locked behind bars, you have found the key to freedom.”
“Times up!” The guard motioned for Jason to rise.
The door was clanging open again.
After getting permission to give Jason a small New Testament, the guard checked it for contraband and slid it through the slot in the window to Jason.
“Read it, I’ll be back next week,” Gus said.
Jason pondered Gus’s words. Could he really hope?
Gus had been a chaplain for thirty years. He’d seen many broken lives; but he’d seen many lives changed. They changed because they turned their lives over to Christ.
Gus’s part was to be the seed sower; whether the seed fell upon the side of the road, the rocky soil, among the thorns, or good soil, only time would tell.
Back in his cell, Jason wondered, Who is this Jesus? Once Jason started reading the book, he couldn’t put it down.
When Gus returned the next week, he found a new creation in Christ. Jason was now a free man—spiritually, that is.
Jason had found the key to the lock. Jesus is the key.
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