Today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)
Today you will be with me in paradise. Jesus was speaking to the thief on the cross. How is it that this thief could go directly to paradise? He was a sinner, he had broken at least one of the commandments, maybe more. Yet he was going to paradise that very day. I love that story. I love it because it's close to my heart. That's because I have my own thief on the cross story.
A few years ago my cousin called to say that my uncle Bernie was dying. My husband and I had visited Bernie many times over the years. I was pretty sure that Bernie didn't have a relationship with Christ, and my heart always felt heavy after each visit, because I kept putting off sharing the gospel with him.
We rushed to the hospital and found Bernie all alone in his room, hooked up to all kinds of machines. I walked up to him and got right to the point. I asked Bernie if he was ready to meet Jesus. Bernie said no. I asked if he wanted to ask Jesus to come into his heart, and Bernie said yes. He repented for his sins, and with his dying breath, Bernie eagerly accepted Jesus. That was the most beautiful day in my life.
The next day we returned to see how Bernie was doing. As we walked down the hallway leading to his room, my legs turned to jello. I could barely make it down the hall. I thought what is going on here? When we entered Bernie's room we could sense a shift in the atmosphere. The glory of God was in that room - it must have been full of angels! We were standing on holy ground.
Bernie was in a coma, and the next day he died. I miss Bernie, but I will see him again, and what a glorious reunion it will be!
Do you want to go to paradise?