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Saving Grace

by Jarrod Stackelroth

How are you handling a second chance at life?

Silence. My heart beat fast, and sweat cascaded down my face in sheets. This was it—once I walked into that courtyard, there would be no return, no second chance. Justice would be served.
The executioner’s blade was sharp, and
I hoped it would be quick. I knew I deserved it, but it wasn’t fair. What does it feel like to cease, never again to be?
I was led down a long, dusty corridor into an open courtyard. An angry crowd had gathered before the raised platform. I could taste their hatred in the air as they mocked me. I don’t know why they were angry. Their turn would come, as it comes to us all. They were no better than me.
My senses were heightened. I could smell the executioner’s rank breath—garlic and the stench of stale food floated from his gaping maw of a mouth where rotting teeth clung like crooked willows on a mountain crag.
He lifted the blade and time slowed. I could see every pit in the man’s face; hear every taunt of the crowd. The sun seemed unbearably hot and mocked me from its throne on high. I looked down upon the scene as if removed. I saw my huddled form with contempt. I scoffed at what I had become. What frail humanity, a pitiful shell of unrealised potential.
The crowd hushed as the executioner lifted the blade. With my hands tied behind me and my head pushed down, in a last, unholy bow, all I could do was cry out.
“Help me!” The words broke forth, an inhuman, desperate plea from the bottom of my soul.
“Stop,” came a voice. The executioner  stopped and looked around. The voice was neither loud nor powerful but somehow strangely compelling in its humanness.
The prince of this place, who’d been wearing a gloating smile, stood up, his face transfigured into a mask of hatred. Everyone looked around for the source of the voice.
There he was, Joshua the builder, from down my street. I’d known him all my life. I thought ashamedly about how I’d rejected his offers of friendship and help. I’d been too busy, uninterested in a lowly worker, too proud to take his hand even when I needed it. Now he was the only person to say anything. Why?
Looking directly into my eyes, his deep brown eyes quivered with the injustice of what was happening to me. I saw another expression on his face. I recognized it, but I couldn’t name it—an almost extra human emotion that went beyond anything I’d experienced.
“Prince Lucas,” he said in a peaceful, quiet voice, “I have come for this man.” Joshua’s eyes seemed to pierce my soul. I didn’t understand what was happening.
“Who are you to demand that?” spat the prince. “By all the laws of the universe this man deserves his fate.”
“Let me make you a deal,” began Joshua. “I am the leader of the rebellion. Me for him.”
The world seemed to hold its breath.
“You?” hissed Lucas. “Anytime. Seize him, and make it quick.”
For years people had been waiting for the King to return, but to most it was a fairytale, a story meant for children. But here was the flesh-and-blood leader of the rebellion. He had been so close to me all along, and yet I never knew it.
He got dragged onto the platform beside me.
“Let the worm go,” cried Lucas. “We’ve got a bigger prize.”
After my hands were unbound I leaned over and whispered to Joshua, “Why?”
“Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends, and when the king returns, you can inherit all that was mine. For you are now with me.”
Then I lept away.
Beep, beep, beep! I awoke with a start to the sound of my alarm. It was all a dream, yet what a message my dream had given me. The elation I felt to be freed from death, given a second life! Then I realized: I have been given life again, life I don’t deserve; What to do with that life was now the question.
The Bible says: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). Does this mean that to accept the gift we are given we have to work for it? No way! But like a body that doesn’t breathe is just an empty shell, if we are filled with faith and have accepted God’s grace, then we have no choice but to ooze it.
In our actions, in our words, in our thoughts, grace should trumpet and our faith in God’s grace should be alive. Otherwise we’re shell Christians, and we’re not living life more abundantly. We walk around freed, yet with a noose around our necks instead of a T-shirt that says “Free and loving it!”
Make the effort to connect with your Savior. No matter what you’ve done or who you are, you are already saved if you accept it. And after accepting His gift, share the joy you’ve found and live the life like someone who’s been given it again. Not down and dreary but someone who has been saved from the very Valley of the Shadow of Death.
. . .The noise is a wall. People dance and sing all around me. The King has returned.
I am standing with head high. Again my heart is beating fast, but this time with joy.
This article first appeared in March 31, 2007, issue of The Edge, a magazine published for young adults at Signs Publishing Company in Warburton, Victoria, Australia. Check out The Edge’s online content at

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