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"He Took My Place"

My first civilian employment after separating from Air Force active duty in the late 70’s was serving as a correctional officer at a federal prison camp. I wasn’t thrilled with being a correctional officer, but I had a pregnant wife, two small children, and needed a job. In the second month of my probationary period while working the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, I fell asleep on the job and was awaken by my Lieutenant who was searching for me when I failed to show up for the 4:30 a.m. inmate count. This was an employment terminating offense for a probationary officer.

Later that same morning of my offense, I met with the Captain of the Correctional Staff who would determine my fate. I readily acknowledged my error and pleaded for my job. The Captain, who was a very tuff man, had pity on me and responded, “You won’t lose your job this time.” I felt a feeling of relief and was ready to accept any alternative punishment issued, but none came. I was simply given another chance. This angered the Captain’s supervisor (Camp Deputy Superintendent) who felt punishment was required. Since the Captain failed to punish me, his supervisor punished him with career hindering actions.

I did wrong and got forgiven while the one who forgave me was punished. What the Captain did for me changed my whole perspective about being a correctional officer. I now felt an obligation to approach my job with appreciation – striving to be the best officer I could be – willing to go above and beyond what was required – demonstrating to all that my Captain’s sacrifice to preserve my job at the expense of his own career was not in vein.

Every Christian should have a similar impact based on the salvation received from Jesus. We have all sinned and been forgiven while the One who forgave us was punished. As a result we should have a new perspective on how to live our new life in Christ. We should feel an obligation to approach our new life with appreciation – striving to be the best we can for Him – willing to go above and beyond what the “law” requires, showing love to all including our enemies – demonstrating to all that His sacrifice for us was not in vein!

Rev James W. Pitts Jr.

Senior Pastor - New Zion Tabernacle Ministries

120 Patrick Drive

Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. 32547

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