Thomas Paine (1737–1809) was an English author, inventor, and philosopher.
Because of his influence in such pamphlets as Common Sense, is sometimes referred to the “Father of the American Revolution.” But in November of 1794 Thomas Paine almost became a victim of another revolution and escaped death only by the strangest of accidents.
Paine, an outspoken critic of the English Monarchy, initially rejoiced and praised the merits of the French Revolution of 1789. He even visited France to be an eye witness of its rebirth. Tragedy befell Paine after he condemned the execution of the fallen French king, Louis XVI. Paine was arrested under suspicion of being an “enemy of the Republic.” He remained incarcerated in the Luxembourg Prison for nearly a year.
On the eve of his execution, guards drew a cross with charcoal on his cell door—as they typically did to all the cell doors of prisoners who were to die the following day. In fact, they marked the doors of 168 prisoners that evening. All of them died the next day—all except for Thomas Paine. Here’s what happened.
The evening before his death a physician came to visit Paine and for the duration of the visit his cell door was kept open. During the visit guards came through and dutifully marked his door with an “X.” But without thinking they drew the “X” on the inside of the door that had been swung open. When the doctor left and the door of Paine’s cell was shut, the “X” was concealed. The next morning guards passed over his cell since no “mark of judgment” appeared. An open door to a visiting physician had saved his life.
In the Scripture we read Christ’s invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and have fellowship with him and he with me” (Rev. 3:14). An open door to the Great Physician Jesus Christ will not make you a perfect person. An open heart to God will not solve all your problems. A plea to the Lord for a pure heart doesn’t mean you’ll never sin again. Nor does a plea for a clean slate mean you’ll never stumble again.
But an open heart to Christ will remove the mark of judgment from the door of your soul. Christ can deliver you from sin’s everlasting penalty. “Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18).
Dear Lord, for so long I have avoided You, fearing that You’ll impose Your will upon me and take possession of my life. But my life is not my own and I am a prisoner of my own passions and a victim of my own recklessness. Dear Lord, I open to You the door of my heart and life. Please come into my heart and life. Forgive me. Cleanse me. Save me and write my name in Your book of life, I pray. Amen.