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When I was young, I was a rascal!


Faith & Inspiration

By Charles Towne

“Oh, I don’t want anything to do with him, he is a rascal; definitely can’t be trusted! I mean, when he was a young man he even spent time in jail! No sir, you would do well to keep your distance from that one!”

There are some people that have a tendency to put "labels" on animals: "sneaky" as a snake, "dirty" rat, "smelly" as a pig, "faithful" as a dog, "blind" as a bat, "stubborn" as a mule, "dumb" as an ox... you get my point. In their minds, this label is what the animal is. They're either "good" or "bad"; it's that simple. And you definitely want to be faithful as a dog, not smelly as a pig.

Unfortunately, just as some of us cast casual judgement on animals, we can also tend to attribute ugly tendencies and traits to people, as if it was that simple. That person just is what he / she is. The story is finished, book closed, nothing more to be said.

I should know. When I was young, I was a rascal. I mean, I was a real rascal!! I knew it, and I felt it... in myself, and from others, too.

But thankfully, time passes and life goes on. That which was… is no more...

Take the Apostle Paul for example.

Paul - or the man who was known at one time as Saul - thought it was right to drag the followers of Christ before cruel men that they might be judged and executed. But miraculously, his life was changed on that encounter on the Damascus road.

Now, it might be argued that Paul was persuaded that what he was doing was right. I mean, those pestilential Christians are a plague that needs to be wiped out...aren't they?

Yeah, I guess so. Except for one thing:

God didn’t think so!

And because God was involved, Saul became Paul, a new man in Christ Jesus.

Now, my question is this: If our Holy God can transform Saul into Paul, can’t he transform rascally humans like you, and Charles Towne, into followers of Christ Jesus, too?

And I'm also thinking... when you and I sit in harsh judgement of some rascal, even when Papa God tells us to forgive that very rascal, aren’t we in fact placing ourselves above God?

I love the story in the bible where a certain 'lady of the evening' was dragged before Jesus to be judged. Wow. Those evil men thought they were setting a trap for Jesus, when in reality, they were messing with God himself!

I wonder what it was that Jesus wrote in the dust of the road that day?

When I see my Jesus bend down, and with a twig begins scratching in the dust... I wonder what he wrote.

The woman’s judges, one-by-one, approached Jesus... and for a moment they stared down at whatever Jesus had written... and then, without a word, sneaked away... guilt no doubt on their faces.

I wonder what those men were thinking?

Just my own idea, but I'll tell you what I think they were thinking: “Who is this man? And how does he know my secret sins?”

If I had been one of those men, and I had looked down at what Jesus had written in the dust, I wonder what I would have seen.

If you had been there, would your name have been written in the dust as well?

Would my own name have been there, too...?

These questions feel more like answers as quickly as they form. And then the memories... and guilt... start to ply the innocent wondering... and I feel myself, too, like those men, taking a step back...


That rascally part of me that is still in me - though touched, thankfully, by my Papa God's hand - tosses out another question and thought:

What if... (and hold onto your hat for a second on this one...)

What if - along with those assumed "secret sins" written in the dust - there were also these words scratched beneath them: "I love you. No matter what, ___________ (insert their name... your name... my name), no matter what, I love you. And I forgive you. Come to me, you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest..." From sins. From guilt. From judging others. From shame.

I just wonder...

He did it for the labelled one. Why wouldn't he have done it for the labelers as well?

Maybe those men, so accustomed to using negative judgements themselves, thought that's all there was. Maybe they thought that's all there "should" be, and stopped short of reading the rest of the words, and heart, that reached out to them. Maybe they left too early before their eyes reached the hope part, before their hearts believed the hope part, that Papa God always offers.

It wouldn't surprise me. After all, he did it for Paul.

And he did it for me.

And I know he wants to do it for you, too.

Every day.

For all of us 'rascals'.

Because that's just who Papa God is.

O Holy God, please forgive me for when I judge and label others, as if their story was already finished being written! And forgive me too, God, when I judge and label myself in this way, too. Please, as you have promised, cast my sins - my judgements, my labels, my own fears and doubts and stopping shorts - into the deepest parts of the sea, beyond my recall (and beyond anyone else’s, too!). Help me to see myself, and others, as you see us - with eyes of love and compassion. Thank you for your great mercy, O Holy God. In Jesus' wonderful name I ask it, Amen.

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


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