Posts Tagged ‘grace’

ImageI just bought a new car last week, 1990 Honda Accord. It’s black, lowered a bit, fun to drive. Its going to be nice to save some money on gas.

Two days after I bought it was the last day of 2012 and since the world hadn’t come to an end yet I went to pick up the Epic Life mail one last time from my good UPS friend John Apple down at the Oaktree village. Thumbing through the stack of junk, packages and letters I crossed the sidewalk without looking up, hit the remote, and opened the door to my new ride.  As I slid into the driver’s seat my eye caught a girl walking the same sidewalk I just crossed. She landed in a iron chair outside of the UPS store I had just left. As she sat down our eyes connected and the corners of her mouth turned up and she winked at me with a, “Hey Honey…” wink. I smiled back and turned my attention to getting my key in the ignition as fast as I could and powering on my space ship and flying.

But it didn’t start.

I looked up and the young lady was still sitting there and from under her furry brimmed hoodie came another smile. I tried turning the key again but to no avail, the car wasn’t going to come to life and whisk me away, back to my busy life. After a few more tries it was time to call Tony, I know he has Mondays free so maybe he could come get the car started. I looked up again and became aware that I was still being watched.

So… I got out of the car and went and sat down next to her. She said, “Hey there.” I replied, “Hey there.”

And then I asked her how long she had been working on the streets. I was surprised at how fast she moved into conversation about prostitution with me, as she told me she had been working at a regular job but had a girl friend earn in two days on the streets what she would make in a month at a job where she paid taxes. She needed money to live and this paid the bills. She spoke between slow draws on her cigarette, raising and lowering her hand to her scarred chin and cheek.

Then I told her that she is much more valuable than surviving a life of giving her body to be used and living alone in a motel room night after night along Aurora waiting for another guy named John to call her. 

Heather crumbled into her lap and began to weep uncontrollably. 

I spoke of the great and miraculous love of Jesus and the transformational power of Grace and forgiveness and that I have these great friends all around me who would welcome her as part of their family. I then offered to take her home, to spend New Years eve with my family. I would even buy her time if she needed that.

Her sobs where audible to anyone walking past as she relayed the story of her horrendous experience as a child. A kind woman, who passed by two minutes earlier, offered us a couple of lattes as she returned. She had to be an angel. 

Heather declined my offer, said she couldn’t do that, she would only hurt us, and became very skittish of the situation she had found herself in. It seemed time to let her go, so I wrote mine and Kristine’s name and my cell number down on a napkin and told her that no matter when or where, if she needed to call I would answer. If she needed protection I would be there. She quickly folded the napkin in half and pushed it into her purse, while wiping her mascara smeared eyes with her sleeve.

Tony arrived. 

Heather left.

The car started on the first try.

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Since being in Seattle God has given many of us new eyes to see those around us who are hurting and need love. We have been able to become friends with many who call the street their home. Men and women who literally live under the bushes behind the theater we meet in for our Sunday morning gathering of Epic Life Church. These men and women have their street name, but are always introduced to us by their given names. One such man, whom God gave me the privilege to come to love and call, “Friend,” is Ken Weed.

Ken is 45 and has been on the street for around five years. He has a nursing degree from the University of Washington and was working in a local hospital up until he got drunk in a bar late one night and got into a fight that consequently got him sent to jail and then fired. He has told me many times how much he regrets that night, but now looks at the cold facts of being a drunk, homeless and jobless without opportunity for something better.

Over the past three years Ken has become part of the Epic Life family. Most of the time we would see Ken he would be drunk, much too drunk to carry on a good conversation. Often at the end of a Sunday service he would find himself passing by me and reaching out for a hug telling me, “You know I need help quitting, or You know so and so needs help, or You know I’m trying.”

Early this past winter I was leaving my office later than usual and as I walked out into the dark parking lot Ken approached me out of the drizzly Seattle rain. He was cold and hungry. I was late getting home and knew dinner was already on the table, but I paused. I can still see his eyes; there was death in those eyes.

“What would it matter?” Was his question. I knew what he meant. “What would it matter if he killed himself that night? No one would miss him and the pain would be over.” “No one cares, do they Pastor Keith?”

“No one cares, do they Pastor Keith?”

The knife cut deep. I didn’t know what to do. There is so much life; good and bad choices; abused and abuser that brought us to that interaction late that night. I was confronted with so much. Pastors, mentors, counselors and well meaning people in my mind telling me my family needs me, he’ll be OK. “You can’t help everyone.” “He got himself to this place.” “You’ve have already put 60 hours in this week, go home.” “You need some ‘me’ time.” “You don’t have the money to help him.”

Really?

I knew he was heading around the back of my office to sleep on the cold concrete out of the rain without food, without a blanket. So I put my arm around him and said, “I care Ken. I would miss you.” I walked him to my van and we drove to the 125th St. Grill, just up Aurora Ave. This happens to be the same restaurant where I attend a weekly Rotary meeting. We walked into the restaurant together, me talking to him like he was clean, well kept and a paying customer; well, like he was my friend.

We sat in a booth facing each other by a window. I wondered if he was feeling all the looks from the other restaurant patrons; those questioning eyes; those raised eye-brow conversations. He ate a very large steak complete with juicy goodness running down his full scraggly beard and a cigarette break outside. I ate pasta, with a clean face and no cigarette break. He was dirty and smelled really bad. I was clean and didn’t smell as bad.

We talked and drank some coffee and had some dessert for another hour. I talked about what surrendering to Christ would be like. He wants to, but thinks he can’t. That Jesus wouldn’t accept a drunk like him. I told him Jesus comes looking for us even when we are drunk.

We left the restaurant that night with a deeper friendship. I drove him back to my office, got him a blanket and handed him my left over pasta, gave him a big hug and said, “Ken, you’ve got to hold on, for just a little longer.” He and I parted that night going in such different directions on so many levels. As I drove towards my warm home and happy family I knew that, at least that night, God had allowed me to bring Ken back from the brink of death. He would remind me of that night many times in the coming weeks.

It was soon after the events of that night that Ken enrolled himself in a six month recovery program at the Salvation Army. We were all so ecstatic and happy for him. I would get several phone calls over the next few weeks and he sounded so good. I felt that there was hope and that Ken would make it out of the enemy’s ditch and it wouldn’t be long that Ken would be recovered completely and working and living in an apartment. The future looked good.

But that isn’t how it worked out.

Ken decided the program was too hard and left after just two months only to find himself back on the streets and soon back to the bottle. This time the intoxication was worse.

Some of the street people told him not to go to Epic Life anymore because we were mad at him. But we found him on the street and made sure he knew we still loved him and would be there for him, but wanted to see him leave this life of being imprisoned by alcohol. But he went downhill pretty fast.

About three weeks ago, late at night, I received a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. It was Ken from an emergency room several miles north of our home. I wrote a recent blog post about that night and if you want to know this piece of the story in depth read that here. June 22nd Post 

Long story short, Ken had stolen a $45 bottle of Jack Daniels and drank it all, as he walked north. The ambulance picked him up face down on the side of Aurora Ave. I picked him up and told him that we were going to go back to the store and pay for the bottle. I told him that in the absence of him having any money that I would pay for it, but he promised me he would come back with me in two weeks and he would pay the debt.

I dropped him off at the park that night. In my heart I knew he would not make it another month.

I saw him one more time.

This Tuesday I receive the call from Alicia, who works at a local market, which is also the local street hot line in the neighborhood. She told me she had just heard that Ken’s body had been found on Monday morning. I wasn’t shocked, but my heart sank hard. I would later learn from the Medical Examiner that he probably died on Saturday and lay there in the empty lot behind the China Dragon for two days.

I felt like the “walls” of the world were closing in on me and I couldn’t make out what my thoughts should be. Tears started to fill my eyes. Images of Ken started flashing through my mind; the times we played cribbage in front of Qdoba just before church started, his smile at the block party, his intoxicated hugs after worship, even his smell wafting through the layers of coats.

Then all I could think of was the debt that was still owed at Bartell Drugs; $48.00 for a missing bottle of Jack Daniels.

Soon I found myself sitting on a curb in Bartell’s parking lot, weeping for my friend. My head buried in my hands with tears pouring through my fingers and pooling up on oil stained asphalt. My grief was so great and uncontrolled. I felt I had lost a close friend who almost made it out of the darkness, but was taken under as I watched.

Finally I stood up and wiped my face off and walked into the store. The first isle I came to was the liquor isle where I happened to find the manager also. I looked at her after she identified herself and said, “This is going to sound a bit strange, but…” and I shared much of this story with her.

As I told her that my friend had stolen the bottle and I was there to pay for it, she was taken back. She knew the day and knew that there had been a loss of inventory, so she headed to the counter. Her movements where slow, like she was purposefully moving methodically so she could think this through. Then she said it.

“Why?”

“I don’t understand why you are doing this.” She said through her green eyes that seemed to want to cry.

Tears instantly started down my checks, right there at the checkout, 8:30 pm. I told her that I am well aware of what debt means and when there is debt there needs to be payment. I told her that I had a grand debt that I couldn’t pay and the penalty was death. But that Jesus paid that debt for me, offering be an unmerited Grace. And I got to share the Gospel with her and tell her at the end that Jesus paid that debt for her also.

So I handed her $40 and she said,

“I’ll need $8 more.”

With a smile I paid the rest and said good night and as I left the building I heard her turn to a coworker and start relaying the story.

I cried a lot last night, all the way home, in front of my oldest son, and most of the night. Kristine is gone this week with my youngest three, so the night was long and quiet. I really needed her, but maybe it was good for me to be alone. There are so many questions. Did we do enough? What could have we done? Do we know how blessed we are? Why am I not in Ken’s shoes; why weren’t our circumstances switched? What do we learn? How can we do better next time?  Will this make me calloused? What was that I told him. “Just hold on Ken, for a little long.”

We will hold a memorial serve this coming week for those who knew Ken. We will celebrate life and eternal Hope and we will continue praying and working to see Seattle transformed through an epic life in Christ Jesus. For this is what we have been called to do and it is what we will do with confidence.

Last night at 8:30 I was called to pick one of my friends up at the emergency room. He had walked north on Aurora, way north, entered a local drug store and swiped a half gallon of Jack Daniels and started drinking straight away until he passed out on the sidewalk.  A passer-bye called 911 and he got a ride in the ambulance that he won’t remember as they brought him back to this world in the emergency room.

When he came to and became a bit coherent the nurse gave him a phone to call for a ride; my number was lodged in his brain. He wasn’t sure if I would answer the call and even if I did, would I drive to the hospital and get him? 

I kissed Kristine goodbye and drove north. On the way I picked up my buddy, Brent, who is the youth pastor at Oakwood Baptist in Texas and was visiting the city with a group of high-schoolers.  He and I walked in the emergency room where my friend waited to be released.

I knew what I was about to do and it was going to be hard. I would take him from the emergency room back to his home…the park, just off Aurora Ave and 97th. He has been living in the park most of the winter and before that wondering the city for about four years.

As we drove south last night he told me he had stolen the liquor. The $40 that it would have cost to purchase the bottle was not something my friend had on him or would any time soon. I felt God’s direction. So I turned into the parking lot of the drugstore and told my friend that we were going to walk into the store, and I was going to pay for his crime. This kind of surprised me but that is what God wanted me to do.

My friend got very scared, agitated, verbally abusive and almost violent. His sin was surfacing and he could see it, taste it, touch it. He threaten to jump from my moving truck, right in the middle of a busy Aurora Avenue. Great fear confronted him as he was confronted with his sin and the payment for that sin.

Then the reason for this decision came out. I explained to him that God knew that we, too, couldn’t pay for the sin in our lives, we don’t possess the ability or the desire to pay it back. But, God knew this and so he paid the price through Jesus; the ultimate sacrifice to pay the ultimate price. 

Oh how I needed to be reminded of this. My friend lived in fear, but he could be living in the freedom that comes through Jesus.

The night didn’t get much better for him, I bought him a pack of cigs and dropped him off at the park. He thanked me, was apologetic, embarrassed, ashamed. I prayed he would not drink more tonight, but would find himself too tired and would sleep.  As we drove away, he was curled over dry heaving, sucking on a cigarette and I know wanting another drink, of which, if he indulged that soon he would be dead in the morning.

There are so many levels of struggle in this story…

What happens next?

What does his future look like? As long as he is on the streets, no job, no options, no home, he will return to the emergency room again and again.

His bad choices took him from an RN job to the streets in less than five years. Can it be reclaimed?

How do I continue to sleep in my warm house, soft pillow and bed and behind locked doors, knowing he, and many others, are living where he is?

What can we do? What has been done for him hasn’t worked. What’s next?

How does God continue to restore us even when we continue to run after the entertainment of our Self.

Can I continue to do this long term? Can my soul take this?

The truth is, the more I walk with people like my friend last night, the more I realize my own depravity and see the amazing amount of Grace my Savior has had on me, an undeserved Grace, paying a penalty that I could never pay. Jesus even paid for my return to my own vomit.

Thank you!

Pen Down

Posted: March 10, 2009 in poetry
Tags: , ,

My pen is down on paper white,

to write

a story of pure delight.

I see visions of love and joy,

like a kid with a brand new toy.

Transformation that’s our cry,

singing out our tongues so high.

It seems so easy to say

to pay

to relay

and to sway

but Aurora is tough, rough stuff,

easily missed, like a kiss,

blown in the wind.

Do I understand what’s rotten,

here in Denmark?

or under the bench forgotten

in the city park?

The story is about redemption

bringing back a relation- – – ship.

But there’s so much corruption

Like a spiritual erruption- – -flip.

A changed life

once full of strife,

Wrists under the knife,

to stop life.

But now there’s reason to live

and reasons that will give

something new,

It’s a re-creation

A new vocation

full of satisfaction

like a sweet attraction

He reaches out to the those who are weeping

sitting on the edge of the world looking for a way to get off.

He extends his hand to those who are leeping

standing on the edge of the bridge ready to step off.

He thinks he has to change

to try and rearrange

before coming to the Man.

The followers of The Way

say you have to pay

before coming to the Man.

But you don’t.

The fact is we can’t do enough

fixin’ ourselves is so tough

there’s nothin’ we can do to be good enough.

That’s where Grace

enters the race

to embrace

the corrosion

the erosion

the explosion

of self.

Grace gives life

when we deserve death

Grace gives joy

when we deserve sadness

Grace gives victory

when we deserve defeat

Grace gives love

when we deserve hate.

And he takes us by the hand

so that we can stand

next to the King

and be free.

Can you see?

You can be free.

And when your pen goes down

to write words of the heart,

may love and joy spill over

as through you God creates art.

GraceRecently a friend of mine asked me write a blog on the topic of Grace. That was a week ago and since that quick technologically facebooked exchange of typed words I have had several divinely appointed opportunities to speak about Grace to individuals who think they understand, and with those who have no clue; including a Muslim man, who doesn’t believe in Grace.
This weekend at the Epic Life Worship Celebration I spoke on the last couple of paragraphs that Paul penned to the Philippians some 2000 years ago, as he sat in a prison cell. He ended this encouragement laden letter with some thoughts on Contentment, which if understood correctly has nothing to do with Comfort. Comfort deals with how we respond, positively and negatively, to circumstances and the allowing of circumstances to control our emotions, whereas Contentment deals with our outlook on life regardless of circumstances.  It is within the walls of Contentment where we discover that we live in the best house on the block, regardless of what the house looks like; it’s where we learn we drive the greatest car on the road; where we realize we have the best job; where we feel fully satisfied in all that we have and do.

Seeking Comfort is all about how we feel and feelings come and go and must be continually serviced. Being Comfortable is a fleeting temporary experience, which forces us to buy, seek, and strive for the next thing that will make us feel Comfortable. Our world thrives on the next thing. We buy, we’re fulfilled temporarily, we buy again and the cycle continues and we are never fully satisfied.  Feeling Comfortable is alright as long as we are also alright with feeling unComfortable; it is in this understanding of Comfort where we discover Contentment and can see and experience true joy and beauty and love.

I write about Contentment because the etymology of the words Contentment and Satisfaction are closely related and have a lot to do with Grace.  Content = “Satisfied with what one has or is.”  Satisfy = “To fulfill desires or demands, to give full contentment to.”

And this is where Grace enters the dialog in such a beautifully fulfilling way…

The only way to truly understand Grace is by relating it to what Jesus did on the cross. Grace cannot be fully understood in any way in the secular society. Christ lived on earth for one purpose; to die on the cross as a payment for the sins of mankind.  Humans cannot stand in the presence of a holy perfect God because of sin. Sin and Perfection cannot share the same space. Humans are sinful and the penalty for sin is death. Adam and Eve were not content or satisfied with 99.9% of the Garden of Eden, so they felt a sort of disComfort and to fulfill that disComfort they sinned against God.  From that Sin humans have been saddled with the guilt of sin, a debt that we cannot pay. (We try, but no matter how much we try; as a sinful being we cannot get ourselves to a perfect state.)  Something has to Satisfy our debt. So Jesus, in his perfection, died on the cross as our substitution, to pay the price for sin. In his death he fulfilled, Satisfied, the debt for all humans. He paid the price fully.

We are offered a gift, a free gift. The gift of a Satisfied debt.

A definition for Grace is; “Getting something we do not deserve.”  We deserve death; to pay the price for our own sin. If we accept the gift offered to us we receive life; the something we do not deserve. We receive Forgiveness for our debt. Our debt is forgiven or Satisfied.

As a Christian I no longer have to look for ways to Satisfy the debt of sin. It was Satisfied in Christ’s death. I can now be Content. (This is not saying that I will cease to grow; that’s another subject.)

So, Grace…A free gift, that we do not deserve and cannot afford or acquire on our own, but is offered to us anyway, so that upon our acceptance, our debt may be satisfied fully in the view of the perfect Holy God.

Unity Flipped

Posted: November 13, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

There’s been a lot of talk about unity lately. It’s pretty much coming from everyone. Unity in the political parties; unity among church and ministries; unity of the world’s countries; unity of races; unity between religions; unity between members on a team. Heck people even cry for unity between the Pro-lifers and the Pro-choicers.

If I am understanding unity correctly what those calling for unity are advocating is a world where everyone is on the same page, we work together, put aside our differences and come together and believe in the same things. This would be a great thing, but what I see in the stances of those around me and looking at politics, races, countries and all the area I just listed and many more, is what people really mean when they call out for unity is this, “You and I we need to be unified, put aside your differences and come to my side and we will be unified.” Yes there will be unity, but only because one party has had to completely change his views and this isn’t necessarily healthy, in fact could be called communism or be a cult.

People get frustrated because others aren’t unified with them but they themselves aren’t willing to relinquish anything. Basically unity calls for both sides to not hold to some beliefs or ideals as tightly as they would want if everyone agreed with them. True unity comes only if everyone believes and holds to the same philosophy, theology, and any other ology you can think of.

What often happens is when someone calls for unity, they are not willing to back down on a certain premise, calling the other side to change to become unified, hence creating division faster than unity. Often when unity is sought after disunity becomes the result.

So how do we get unity? We agree that we can disagree. In the church there are some truths that are essentials to the Faith and do not allow disunity, whereas other nonessentials that if disagreed upon do not have to create disunity.

But let’s be honest Unity in itself is extremely hard to ever achieve. Maybe a better thought is, “Let’s just work together on what we agree on and not take the other so seriously.” Don’t expect everyone to change to be like you. To achieve unity you may have to give up a few “rights” of your own. And let’s face it true unity even between those who agree on things is pretty much impossible to establish.

Unity requires Grace.

(Please continue to read the comments that discuss this further, thanks)

My thoughts on John 8:1-11  Caught in the Act

It’s late, very late, or maybe it’s early, very early.  She thought she had finally found a man who would love her.

Her past was bruised and ugly.  Her father left home early in her childhood leaving a huge space that she never could fully fill. Even though she tried, often and with many different things. Nothing ever really satisfied. Her mom had to work the fields just to keep food on the table and often she would stay at her uncle’s home while her mother worked late into the night. Her uncle cared for her, a little too much. It was early in her life that he told her how much he “adored” her. His hands wondered and soon he was taking advantage of a young girl who thought she was being loved, but soon realized she was being abused.  As a young girl she started working just to pass the time, something to do, or maybe it was to be away from something she didn’t want to do.

There were other men who started to show interest in her as she matured into a young woman. But so often they only stayed as long as they could get something from her. They too only wanted to use her, she kept giving herself away hoping for something in return. Somehow she became known and began to live on the edge.

One day on a visit to a draw water for her daily supply she ran into a man who offered some money. Others had offered money before but not this much. This would take care of her for a month, maybe more. It would be worth it, just one time more, maybe this would be the last time.

It was late when they met at the stable, the moon was peeking through the clouds that night giving her just enough light to make her way down the trail. The wood hinge on the gate squeaked slightly as she opened it. Inside he was waiting. He was actually very kind, maybe this one would actually care for her, maybe it would be alright. Just maybe. She let herself go.

Suddenly the gate flew open and in crashed several men yelling at her in angry voices. They grabbed her arms and threw her off the nameless man across the stable and onto the dirt floor. Other men tore her garment and pushed her into the animal refuse in the corner, as they began to shout insults at her. Yelling that she was going to be stoned at sunrise.

Crying in fear she scrambled to her feet and ran for the open gate only to be smacked down to the earth again. They grabbed her wrists and proceeded to drag her out of the stable and down the deserted street. The next few hours she spend in a room alone, locked up like an animal, waiting to be slaughtered. She felt like like some kind of animal.

Many things went through her head in those long hours. She knew what she was doing was wrong and that according to the law she was to be punished by public stoning. She had seen that one time before when she was a little girl. It was to horrific to watch, the images started to plague her mind as she sat quietly weeping in the dark corner of the cold room. Alone. the weight of the darkness was heavy.

The agonizing hours turned into a sunny morning. She use to love going to the market with her mom when the sun shown bright, she would hold her mom’s hand singing a Psalm. This morning instead of her holding her mom’s hand the men returned grasping her wrists and forcing her to walk down the busy street.  She knew that most women would be taken to their father’s house and stoned at the door, but where would she go? To the edge of town? To the city dump? She was sure they would take her there and would leave her body in the dump to eaten by wild animals.

But this wasn’t the path to the edge of town. The men were taking her into the heart of the city towards the temple. This didn’t make sense. As they entered the courtyard of the temple she saw a large crowd of people gathered around something. The men made a lot of noise as they entered, causing the crowd to turn and watch the procession enter. She was taken and thrown down on the dirt in front of a man. A common man, she assumed he was a powerful rabbi with this kind of crowd gathered around.

She was confused. First the law said that if a man and woman were caught in the act of adultery that they would both be stoned, but the man from last night wasn’t there. She was alone in the middle a big crowd who were gathered around to find out what this was all about. She mustered up her strength and stood in front of the teacher with her tangled hair falling around her head as she hung it in shame, her clothes torn, her skin dirty and smeared with excrement from the stable. She waited, scared, shaking.

Just hours ago she was giving herself away again, thinking that just maybe this man could have been the one, and now she was preparing herself to die.

The men shouted accusations at her, they were ugly, and sounded evil and then they asked what this rabbi was going to do about it. They wanted him to pronounce judgement on her. She knew what the judgement would be, the law required it-death by stoning. He had to make this proclamation. If he didn’t he would be going against the Law and who would follow a rabbi who went against the Law?

She waited.

The rabbi slowly knelt down and reached his hand out to the dusty courtyard and methodically drug his finger through the sand, like he was writing something. What was it? She couldn’t quite make it out. 

Several of the men who had caught her started to pick up stones, they were getting ready. “How could they be so excited about ending a life?” She thought to herself. “Am I really that evil?”  They continued to shout accusations at her, some were true, some were made up. The man just kept drawing in the sand.

Then he stood up with authority, he was going to talk, he was going to make his judgement. He opened his mouth. She winced.

He said, “You’re right. Let her be stoned.” Terror rushed through her body like lightening, she began shivering with fear and tears streamed down her cheek. But then he said something crazy, “You who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he knelt back down and concentrated on drawing in the dirt. He didn’t even look up again.

She kept her head down waiting for the first stone. They were sure to start throwing, they are the religious leaders, surely they are sin free. She heard a rock drop to the ground. She flinched, but nothing hit her. Then another rock dropped to the ground followed by footsteps. And then it happened again. And again. And again. Soon it was quiet. Very quiet. She looked up and saw that none of the men who dragged her in where there any more.

She didn’t know what to do. She was alive. Why? What just happened?

His Words cut through silence,  “Young Lady, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” He spoke so softly, with so much kindness, gentleness. It was like there was life in his voice.

“No one, sir.” Was all she could get to come out of her parched lips.

And then he said it. He said the words that she would remember the rest of her life. “Then neither do I condemn you,” He said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

She just stood there, shocked, perplexed. She couldn’t figure out what happened. The crowd was still gathered and somehow inside of that short sentence she felt he was teaching the crowd, or maybe the crowds, or maybe he was even teaching or speaking to people who couldn’t hear his voice. She felt something bigger happened here, something bigger than just forgiveness being given to a worthless dirty girl. His words felt like a healing salve, like a cleansing water was washing over her and even though she stood there physically dirty and disgraced, she felt clean, even pure. His words made her desire deeply to change to run from her life of continually looking for love in men. She felt as if she had just been released from a prison.

She wanted to jump up and down and shout and sing. But she didn’t, she just stood there. The Rabbi looked at her and smiled. It wasn’t a grin or a courteous smile, it was a genuine smile with teeth and dimples and a sparkle in his eyes.  Then he turned and continued to teach the crowd.

The girl followed this Rabbi for many weeks, holding onto every word that he spoke, capturing every miracle and healing he did. She followed him all the way to a place called Golgotha, the place where this kind, gentle Rabbi died a gruesomely harsh death on a cross. It was evident to her that in his death he was doing something much bigger than just dieing. There was something about that death that had eternity written on it. Something in that day on that hill that was going to heal many, many more people like she was healed. She would soon find out that it was in his death and resurrection that true life begins.