Lent, Week 2: With Me

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, 

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  

Luke 23:39-43

This second "word" of Jesus from the Cross is traditionally called the word of Salvation.

When you think about the way we learned Salvation in Sunday School, it's easy to divide the lesson into two examples, one bad and one good.  

Criminal 1:  didn't believe.  (Bad)  

Criminal 2:  believed.  (Good)

The Sunday School lesson is:  Criminal 2 was saved.  (Good)

Be like Criminal 2.  (Without the criminal part.) 


But what about all of us today?  

How does the word of Salvation fall on our hearts?

How do we watch with Jesus in this moment when we've already checked the "believe" box?

Well, I think there's another way to look at Criminal 1:  "I want what I want."

And there's another way to look at Criminal 2:  "Whatever happens, I want to be with Jesus."

I think that's the deeper story, for all of us who believe, but who know that we are still being saved. (I Corinthians 1:18)

Do we just want what we want, or do we want to be with Jesus? 

We know this for sure:  it's so hard to stay with Jesus when life goes crazy around us.  

When we get a lunatic email at work or endure a heart-breaking family situation or are radically misunderstood by a friend.

It's so easy to slip away into wanting what we want, into proving that we're right, showing what we deserve, fighting for the fairy tale ending we just can't let go of.

And that's when we end up shouting at Jesus:  "Aren't you the Messiah?  Save me the way I want, right now!"

That's really the telltale sign of when we've drifted over into Criminal 1 territory.  

It's not the mockery of unbelieving words.  

It's the panic, the demand, the relentless clinging to The Way Things Must Be.

If we're ever going to grow up past our little baby-ego selves and into mature people who can live free through the greatest challenges of life, well, we've got to stop demanding our own way, and instead find our salvation With Jesus.

No  matter what.

Not with the job that we love.

Not with the ministry that gives us purpose and value.

Not with the number of likes or follows or agreeing comments.

Not even with the family that we cherish or the friends we have loved.

Sometimes, real true free LIFE demands that we walk away from all the "good" things we've previously built our life upon, and follow into places we never wanted to go.

With Jesus.

Only Jesus.

And I know that's really, really scary.

There's a huge temptation to keep trying to put things back the way they were.


When we're really With Jesus, we know there is More, beyond what we can see.  

When we are With Jesus, we trust that we are not the final arbiters of our own lives.  And that turns out to be a good thing.

When we are With Jesus, we know that past the chaos, the pain, the disappointment, the rejection, the injustice--there is something else out there.  Redemption, maybe.  

As much as it hurts, through the tears and the sorrow and the sleepless nights, we know that we know that we know.

Love is still here.  

Love holds us safe, even as we suffer.

Love promises:  "Today, you will be with me."

No matter what happens.

No matter where the road goes.

"Today, you will be with me."

May we receive and receive and receive, all the With Me that we need for today.

Be Still, The Fray

Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you
And covers you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I'm with you
And I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

And when you go through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am

Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know I am

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