As I was driving back to my alma mater for homecoming, I couldn’t help but have my eyes diverted from the road to the reds, oranges, and yellows on a particularly wooded area of the interstate. The trees were gorgeous, stirring up praise from the innermost depths of my being to the One who painted those leaves with brilliant color.
Then a thought struck me—whether that thought came from my own mind or whether the Holy Spirit placed it there, I do not know.
The leaves are the most glorious and beautiful while they’re more or less awaiting their death.
Likewise, while Jahar is on death row, he can be that beautiful and magnificently display the glory of God for as long as he has in this world until “the wind carries him away,” so to speak, and he goes home. In his final years and days, he can shine like never before, to the delight of his Father and all those who welcome him as a brother in Christ.
I’ve witnessed this sort of thing with a brother in Christ who was executed by Texas last year. A chaplain said of him, “There is not a single trace of the [man] that arrived to Polunsky. God has totally changed him.” In his final hours, he was able to share the Gospel with his family, and his niece and his son came to Christ and one of his brothers rededicated himself to Christ. Instead of wasting his time on death row, he also made an effort to reach out to his fellow death row inmates with the Gospel and the love of Christ, and one of those inmates came to faith in Christ pretty much right before his own execution.
I’m reminded too of Kelly Gissendaner, an amazing sister in Christ, who was executed by Georgia last month. During her time on death row, she reconciled with her children (the victim of her crime was her husband/their father) and was credited with transforming and even saving the lives of many of her fellow inmates. As she was being executed, she sang “Amazing Grace.” “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”
In Christ, depraved wretches like Jahar can become more beautiful than the most exquisitely colored tree, radiating the glory of God.
And like new life comes to a tree in spring, they will also rise to new life.