Today in our Missional Living Devotional I want to share with you a Missional Living Principle that is powerful and will enable you to shine the Light of Christ in the lives of people more brightly than you ever have been able to do before. However, while this is an easy principle to understand - it's not an easy one to put into practice. So, what is that principle?
In order to shine the Light of Christ the brightest we must be willing to forgive those who have wronged us! By doing this we are looking past their faults to see their need for Christ!
To help you see how this principle at work in real life I am going to share with you a true about a friend of mine, Teresa Baldwin and her family and how her willingness to forgive someone who injured her, her son-in-law, her daughter and the her whole family afforded her the opportunity to shine Christ into the lives of people that never would have been available to her if she hadn't! You watch the video and watch me tell the story or you can read for yourself at the end of the blog.
A TRUE STORY OF FORGIVENESS, HEALING & SHINING THE LIGHT OF CHRIST INTO THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT DON’T DESERVE IT!
Written by: Teresa Baldwin
On June 24, 2011 at 5:30am my daughter's life would be forever changed, as well as the rest of our family.
On his way to work, my son-in-law, Jason, was hit by a drunk driver and killed instantly. Jason and Heather (my daughter) had been married for only 9 months when his life was taken from him.
I will never forget receiving the phone call. Shock and unbelief were my first response. You are just never prepared for this kind of news. I just hurt so bad for my daughter!
My daughter, who swore she would never get married, had found a good man who loved God and family and now he was gone. I remember driving down south with Jordan, (a young man who is like our son), the 9 hours to get to my daughter and crying the whole way down.
But from the beginning my husband and I both said we would not hate this young man who took our son-in-law's life. We would choose to forgive. We had taught our kids at a young age that because Christ died while we were still in our sin we needed to willing to forgive others. Not that we excuse what they do. But we should be willing to forgive and let go of the anger. Forgiveness - it’s a choice.
My kids saw firsthand while growing up what happens when a person doesn’t forgive, through their papa, who lost his first born son at the age of three through a tonsillectomy that went wrong and he remained bitter throughout the rest of his life. One of the first things my daughter said to me was,
"Mom I don't want to be angry or bitter"
It’s been two years since the accident. In that time, we have been able to share with many people that it was only with God that we could get through this. We were also able to share with Jason's parents that because of his decision to receive Christ into his life that we would see him again one day.
My twin sister and I went to the courthouse back in September for the sentencing of the young man (Joseph) who took Jason's life. Again, I could have chosen to be angry, bitter and hateful toward him as I spoke at the courthouse. But I didn't. Instead, I chose to tell him we forgive him, that my daughter forgives him and that we did not think he was a bad man just what he had done was bad and that he needed to get help for his drinking. I shared that I believed that he could not do it alone but that he needed God's help.
Joseph was not sentenced that day due to his brother being murdered just 3 days prior to the sentencing. There are allegations that the murder was connected to Joseph's time in jail. I don't know that I can share more at this time but I can tell you this: my heart just ached not only for him but for his mother also and the rest of his family.
After we left the courtroom my sister and I went to Joseph's mother and aunt. We hugged them and told them how very sorry we were for their loss. At one point the aunt said to me,
"I wish I knew what your daughter looked like."
I told her I had brought with me a wedding picture of Jason and Heather and asked her if she would she like to see it. She said "yes". After showing it to her I then asked her if she would like to keep it, again she said "yes". The aunt then gave me her card if I wanted to stay in contact with her.
A month had gone by and one day I thought I really needed to write to Joseph in jail but I didn't have his address. As I went to email his aunt to get his address I realized I didn't have her email address but just a phone number. So, I called her. She told me she was having such a bad day and that there were several things going on. I had sensed something right away and asked her if I could pray with her. She said, “Yes, please do.” And then after the prayer she indicated that was exactly what she needed that day.
Now, as I share all of these things I want you to understand I truly believe it was the Holy Spirit working in me to talk to this family, to hug them and to pray with them. When you have the Holy Spirit working in your life and you let him guide you and lead you, its wonderful. I can't tell you the love and the peace I have had in my heart for this family and I know it’s because of Jesus.
The same day I spoke to the aunt I later received a text from Joseph's mother saying she had heard that I had called and that she believed it was confirmation from God. She shared that she had our family and Jason's family on her mind. She also told me that her sister had given her the picture of my beautiful daughter and Jason and that she looks at my daughter every morning and prays for her.
You know when this first happened we heard all kinds of stories about Joseph and his family but I just discovered they weren’t true. Joseph is a human being and he made a bad choice and because of that bad choice another human being is gone. He has shared how sorry he is and I hear that he is trying to make a difference while in jail by holding bible studies and by speaking to the young men inside the cell. My prayer is that he continues to see his need for God. That he does make a change and that he does get a second chance.
Above all else I pray that God is glorified through all this, that people will learn the importance of forgiveness and that they come to know that Jesus is the only one who can save us.
There is a song that came out right after the accident that killed my son-in-law called "Forgiveness" by Matthew West. It’s a beautiful reminder of what Christ has called us to do. This life is temporary. But for those who have put their faith in Christ Jesus we will live forever with Him one day. And I do believe that day is soon!
As I finish this Missional Living Devotional I realize that there are many who have been seriously hurt and the thought of forgiving your assailant is the farthest thing from you mind. I know you don't "FEEL LIKE" forgiving them! I know they don't "DESERVE" it! And that's exactly why it is such a powerful principle for living a missional life! That's why the Light of Christ shines brightly when we are willing to do it! It leaves the recipient wondering,
"HOW IN THE WORLD CAN ANYOE DO THAT AFTER WHAT I HAVE DONE TO THEM?"
And of course the answer is: Because of Christ in me the Hope of Glory.
And after all, isn't that what God did for us? After we assaulted him through our life of sin God not only forgave us but he also took the punishment for our sin upon himself through Christ's death and burial.
GOD DID NOT GIVE US WHAT WE DESERVED: CONDEMNATION/HELL
INSTEAD HE GAVE US WHAT WE DIDN'T DESERVED: FORGIVENESS/HEAVEN
So, I say, "Let's go and do likewise! Let's prove that we truly are sons and daughters of the one, true, living breathing God by following His example.