Sentenced to probation … not such a bad thing

Being sentenced to probation can be a beautiful thing

By Cynthia E Brewer

Imagine if our life on earth were a probation period before attaining heaven. In reality, it is. God created us as a gift out of love for us. We did nothing to deserve His love or our life; He gave it to us for free.

But there’s an even greater gift beyond our life on earth; there is eternal life in the presence of the All Mighty God. He offers that to us freely as well.

Unfortunately our sins against God can prevent us from attaining that future life. But, thanks be to God, there is “probation”.

This idea came to me when I read The Imitation of Christ, Chapter 59 of Book 3: Interior Conversation by Thomas A Kempis. The reading follows:

 “2. All persons look out for their own interest; You (Christ) seek only my salvation and my benefit, turning all good things to my good. Even though You permit me to be tested by various temptations and all sorts of trials, You do so for my profit.

 “It is Your wisdom which deals thus with those whom You love. And under this probation I ought to love and praise You as much as if You were filling me with heavenly consolations.

 “3. Therefore, in You, O my God, I place all my hope and fly to You for refuge. On You I cast all my troubles and anxieties; for all is uncertainty, weakness and instability outside of You.”

He mentions “… under this probation …”, so, is life a probation period? What does that conjure up in your mind? A strict probation officer always hassling you, always on your back?

Reread the excerpt from The Imitation of Christ. It is all good; all love, for our good. Yet at times it will feel like a probation period of trials. But these trials can be for our eternal benefit.

Below is the definition of Probation from

Probation is the suspension of a jail sentence that allows a person convicted of a crime the chance to remain in the community, instead of going to jail. Probation requires that you follow certain court-ordered rules and conditions under the supervision of a probation officer. Typical conditions may include performing community service, meeting with your probation officer, refraining from using illegal drugs or excessive alcohol, avoiding certain people and places, and appearing in court during requested times.

Probation doesn’t sounds so bad, does it? It’s an option to going to jail for a crime we committed. Kind of sounds like God’s mercy.

Now of course there are some rules to follow:

Perform Community Service – “Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, …” (Rom. 1: 17-18).

Meet With Your Probation Officer – Visit God in prayer: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Refrain from the use of illegal drugs and excessive alcohol – “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8). “Refrain from every kind of evil” (1 Thess. 5: 22).

Avoid certain people and places – “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people,” (1 Cor. 5:9). “… do not associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber …” (1 Cor. 5:11).

Appear in court during requested times – Meet with God at least once a week on the Sabbath: “Remember the Sabbath day – keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Now does life kind of remind you of being on probation? It doesn’t sound so bad after all, does it?

We can instead visualize Jesus as the probation officer who is trying to help us in every way so that we won’t go to jail … and in reality who will stand with our advocate, the Holy Spirit, before God the Father on our behalf on the Day of Judgment.  For the Triune God, Three in One, seeks only our salvation and benefit. We must trust Him in our trials, knowing that it is only a temporary trial that will actually be for our future benefit.

Thanks be to God!