Jul 26, 2012

Amazing Grace

In Farmington, Missouri, Scott Masters sat in jail waiting. He was accused of stealing a 52 cent donut. After watching him put the donut in his pocket, employees of Country Mart followed Masters outside and confronted him. According to the charges, Masters pushed one of the employees and fled the scene – leaving the donut behind. Because of this strong-arm robbery, he faced a potential 15 years in prison. Because he had prior minor arrests, he could ultimately have been sentenced to 30 years behind bars.

The story reminded me of Jean Valjean, the protagonist in Victor Hugo’s epic novel, Les Miserables. He was put into prison for five years for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family. However, his repeated escape attempts cause the sentence to extend for another fourteen years. When he is finally released from prison, he must carry a yellow passport marking him as an ex-convict. But even though he has earned a small amount of money from working in prison, no one will take him in. Alone and rejected, he ultimately finds his way to a Bishop’s house.

The Bishop offers Valjean food and a night’s lodging. Valjean accepts the offer

of the Bishop but repays this kindness by
stealing fine silver from the house and fleeing with it. When the police capture Valjean, the Bishop does something quite unusual. He convinces the police that he had actually given the silver to Valjean. The police let him go. That one act of grace has a profound impact on Valjean. This miraculous act of forgiveness changes his life forever.

I guess 30 years for a pinched donut is probably a bit stiff. (Unless it was an Apple Fritter). The public outcry was strong and the judge sentenced Scott Masters to 5 years probation, 5 years suspended sentence and 90 days in the County Jail. None of us are perfect. If we were to pay for our crimes, it would be an eternity in prison. But one unusual act of grace has changed us – a man on a cross on a hill. To Him be glory forever.

I'm forgiven because You were forsaken
I'm accepted, You were condemned
I'm alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again

Amazing love, how could it be?
That you my king would die for me.
(Amazing Love, by Billy James Foote)

Pastor David Hook

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