Isn’t it wonderful to know that as long as there is breath in us, it’s never “too late” to come to Jesus? I know I have heard people say things like, “they will never come to Christ” or “it’s not gonna happen.” Some might even think to themselves, “it’s not fair — they have lived such a terrible life,” but I, for one, am grateful for this gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Just a short time ago, my step-brother was lying in a rest home with cirrhosis of the liver. He had drunk himself into this sad state. He had been in prison for a good amount of time, and honestly, we barely knew each other. One day, during my quiet time, the Lord brought to my heart the question, “Felecia, does he know Me?” I couldn’t answer the question, but, honestly, I didn’t think so. The Lord continued to tug at my heart to go see him and share the gospel with him. To be perfectly truthful with you all, I didn’t want to go. I was afraid he might not take too kindly to a distant step-sister coming in his last days on this earth, telling him he needed Jesus. And, quite frankly, why should he when I had never cared to tell him before now? But, I knew I had to go, no matter how afraid I was. I prayed to the Lord and asked Him to give me the words to speak — words that would land on his heart — and that he would know how much God loved him. At that moment, the story of the two thieves on the cross came to mind.
I walked into the cold, dreary room, and he was lying on the bed, his skin a deep yellow. As I got closer, I could see the whites of his eyes, dark orange — almost a blood orange. As weak as he was, I was still afraid. You see, he had these teardrop tattoos underneath his eye, and rumor has it that each teardrop represented someone killed. I don’t know if this is true or not of the tattoos, or of Eric killing anyone. What I do know, however, is that it will cause one to pause a minute before telling a big man that he needs anything. Nonetheless, I walked over, sat at his bedside, and took hold of his hand. I asked him, “Eric, do you know who I am?” He shook his head, yes.
I started to cry and said, “Eric, I need to ask you something.” I thought I knew what I was going to say, but the next words out of my mouth were, “Eric, will you forgive me? Eric, I have known Someone, Someone Who loves you, and I have never told you about Him.” I said again, “Will you forgive me?”
He spoke in a quiet but strong voice, “What you talkin’ bout, girl? Hush.”
I asked again, “Eric, will you forgive me?”
He looked up and said, “Yes.”
I asked him, “Can I tell you about Him now?”
He again said, “Yes.” I took out my Bible, and I read to him from Luke 23:39-43. As I read God’s Word, tears ran down my face. He held my hand with a tight grip and with every word he gripped tighter.
I asked him if he believed Jesus was the Son of God, and he said, “Yes, I do.”
I asked him, “Eric, do you know you are a sinner in need of a Savior?”
“Yes,” he responded.
I then asked if he wanted to accept Jesus’ gift of Salvation just as the thief did on the cross that day. With tears running down his cheek, he said, “Yes.”
It was the most beautiful “yes” I had ever heard. The orange tears rolled right over the tattooed tears, covering them just as Christ’s blood covers our sins. We prayed together, and I stayed and continued to read to him the sweet words of our Lord. It was a precious time together. I knew when I left that day I would never see Eric again on this side of heaven, but I would see him in eternity.
I am so grateful for the thief on the cross who acknowledged Christ in that final hour, and I am so grateful for the words of Christ, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).The picture of the cross points to the wonderful love of our heavenly Father for His children, but it also reveals the depth of depravity of man. As gruesome as the picture of the cross is, it is what gave me great hope for Eric that day and gives me great hope for anyone who will come to Him. I am excited I will see Eric again, not as a step-brother with whom I have nothing in common, but as my brother in Christ.
Who do you need to go to and ask forgiveness from? Who have you not shared the good news with, that Someone loved him enough to die on the cross on his behalf? Is that someone who needs to come to the foot of the cross perhaps you? God loves you. He loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for you so that if you believe in Him you will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
”Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).
Is God calling you to Him as He did the thief on the cross? My prayer is that I will be seeing you in paradise, too!