The Rest of the Story (as of March 2013)

Most of the people reading this “update” will have read of our story in “I Choose to Forgive: An Intimate Journey with God” which chronicles my journey of forgiveness after the murder of our eldest son. God had brought complete freedom from hatred, bitterness and resentment through the power of forgiveness. You may remember my “acts of forgiveness” in obedience to I Peter 3:9 and the correspondence that has followed. All of this is incredible, but it seems to be only the beginning of the wonderful story God is writing in our lives.

Over the years since Tim’s death and my journey of forgiveness began, God has worked a miracle called freedom in my own life and the life of our immediate family. Each one had their own steps to take on the journey and sometimes the way seemed very dark indeed. Praise Him, all of us have come to the same place now. We’ve all forgiven the murderer. Most of us have had a some sort of a correspondence with him. We are all experiencing the freedom that only forgiveness can bring.

For the murderer, it has been quite a momentous journey as well. He has accepted God’s forgiveness and is now a child of God. My brother has actively worked with him to grow in Christ. Contact has been made with his children and other members of his family. The best way I can describe this journey is the change thinking about him. Here is the progression in my relationship to him. He began as a murderer. Nothing of worth in him. Only evil. Producer of pain. Over time, I my thoughts of him grew into calling him a monster. I dismissed him as a person. Surely God didn’t love monsters!

As I’ve written in “I Choose to Forgive,” God confronted me with the commandment to bless (1 Peter 3:9) this person who had hurt me and my family so badly. One of the first “blessings” God called me to give him was to pray for him by name. When I engaged in earnestly praying for him by name, I couldn’t deny that Christ died for him. He wasn’t a monster, he was a man loved by God as much as I was loved–or as much as God loved our son. And now? This murderer. . .monster. . . man. . . is my brother-in-Christ.

Murderer. . .monster. . .man. . .child of God. That is the story and power of Easter! I’m writing this on “Good Friday”–the day we remember Christ’s death on the cross and eagerly await the Resurrection. This is why Christ died and why He lives–to produce this kind of transformation!

In the months since the release of the book, God has touched hundreds of people through the reading and telling of this story. I hear regularly from people whose lives have been transformed through obeying God to forgive, as God in Christ has forgiven you. It is both humbling and terribly satisfying that God would use my story to His glory. My book is published in multiple languages and I’ve spoken in many countries about the power of forgiveness. God is at work. I’m am amazed.

But the journey isn’t over. God continues to write the story.

The correspondence has continued between myself and this “Martin.” He remains in prison, but his spirit is free. He has used my book as the basis for his first “mini-sermon” in prison. He readily shares my book with the other inmates and guards. He has made me a “mini-pulpit” from light-weight wood for my Bible. He asked me to use it whenever I tell “our story of forgiveness.” He writes that he loves me–and I can fully accept it. Last Christmas he wrote,“Your family is my only family now.” It is God at work.

In the spring of 2012, God gave me a view of the future. This “vision” wasn’t expected or sought after but it was confirmed by my husband having a very similar one at the same time. We were standing and singing a simple song of gratitude to God (Jesus, Thank You by Pat Sczebel) in our little inner-city church. As we repeated the phrase, “Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table,” a clear picture began to form in my mind. At first was me–a sinner and enemy of God–now invited as a beloved child to His table. Like a kaleidoscope, the picture kept changing as we continued to sing. Next it was my dining room table, replete with my husband, our children, their spouses and our five granddaughters–a scene that we’ve enjoyed many times. This time there more people sharing this meal. I clearly saw that seated with us was the man who killed our son, his children and grandchildren! The final frame clearly showed that Jesus Christ was standing at the head of the table. Amazing.

Once enemies–of God and of each other–now celebrating together at the table of our Lord! I do not know if God will allow this to ever happen in “real life” but I know it was a clear promise from God that He continues to work in our lives and in the life of this “Martin’s” family. I have shared this vision with “Martin” and we are praying that it will be fulfilled.

The power forgiveness and the reconciliation that can only come of God. Steve Saint says, “God never wastes a hurt if we allow Him to write it into our story.” God is writing a story that can only be written by Him. Only He deserves the praise and the glory. I do not know what may be next in this story, but I am confident that it will continue to be amazing.