Jesus replied . . . “Your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” (Matt. 19:8)

DARLENE HAD BEEN making pastoral visits to someone who was locked up at a maximum-security mental health hospital. At first she was skeptical of his claim of having been born again, but she began to notice that her attitude toward this person had changed. “Given enough stress and the inability to cope with one’s problems, a mental breakdown could happen to any one of us,” she thought. This person was mentally ill and had done something terrible on account of it, but he was still a child of God, created in His image.

Darlene has heard it all. Comments from friends and neighbors such as: “How can you visit and care for such a person?” “Some of these people are murderers, rapists, or child molesters. They should be locked up for life!” Some went further: “They should be put to death!”

And yet, Jesus came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. If we are truly sorry for what we have done today or in the past, God, who is just, will forgive us our sins, whether it be murder, lying, stealing, adultery, divorce, or rape.

That man Darlene visited may never leave the mental health hospital, as he has to serve his time for what he has done, but he is free to receive God’s grace, forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life.

Whatever you are ashamed of, take it to Jesus.

Rosemary Hagedorn began writing devotions in her later years. She creates picture story books for her grandchildren and is presently working on a fantasy novel.