I recently read the book Set Free, the story of Karla Faye Tucker, a woman who was executed in 1998. The story tells of this woman’s horrible home life as a child, violent tendencies, and addiction to alcohol and drugs that culminated in two horrible murders. It is a story about her redemption, and how she ministered to hundreds of other women on Death Row. Because of her diligence in sharing God’s Word and her testimony, she changed the future of many of the other women on Death Row, giving them something they’d not experienced before—hope.
I was moved as I read her story, and could see that God was very present in that prison, with those people who had committed the most unthinkable crimes. He chased after them, just as He chases after you and me. It doesn’t matter where you are—God is there. When the rest of the world has abandoned these criminals, God continues to run after them. Their sins are forgiven for the asking, just like ours.
Early in Karla’s story, she tells the author that she’s not on “Death Row,” she’s on “Life Row,” explaining that our time here is only temporary, and that her goal was to bring as many people to experience eternal life as possible. I want to be very transparent in this moment and tell you that God convicted me while I was reading this book—I am guilty of being skeptical when I hear that prisoners have “found Jesus.” I thank modern-day media for that skepticism, and am thankful that God continues to forgive me when I fall into that mindset. I am thankful that I, too, am on “Life Row” as I live my temporary life on this earth.
Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
Regardless of the situation that led these people to their salvation, regardless of what onlookers say about the authenticity of their salvation experience, it’s not our responsibility to judge. That’s God’s job. Our job is to pray for these people. Jesus died for them for exactly the same reason that He died for us…because we are sinners. Have you ever considered it’s only by the grace of our God that you aren’t on Death Row, homeless, or dead? God speaks that to me often—especially when I find myself being “judgy.”
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
This week, take a moment to thank God for your freedom…freedom from sin and freedom from this world. Thank Him that your sin was covered by the blood of Jesus, just like the sins of those who are in prison. Pray for those who have committed horrible crimes and need salvation just like you did before you came to know Jesus. Ask the Father to help you remain humble as you go about each day, and to cleanse any arrogance you may have in your heart.