A year and a half after my husband was shot and paralyzed in an attempted armed robbery, I still could not say the perpetrators’ names. I knew their names, first and last, but only referred to them as the “tall one” and “spotted one,” so named for the many moles and freckles on his face.
I could not bring myself to humanize them – to refer to them with names. Naivety took a serious hit the day Greg was shot, and part of me still could not believe a fellow human could try to kill another for no reason with no provocation. It was easier to deal with that night by not thinking about those two men having mothers who had birthed them and held them as babies.
The “tall one” is just four years older than my oldest son. I am within the right age that I could have a son that old. Something happened, during the last six months or so – not sure what triggered it, but I thought about how those guys’ mothers must feel. Their sons not even out of prison more than a few months (the tall one was only out for less than a month), and here they are again, back in jail for doing the same exact things that landed them in prison in the first place.
I put myself in the mothers’ shoes. It hurt.
Though it didn’t change the fact that they would have to sit through the same legal proceedings as us, and they would have to deal with the ramifications of that night by serving time in state prison, I looked at them with a different line of sight. I looked at them with Kingdom Vision.
Kingdom Vision is powered by the grace of Jesus Christ. It’s the ability, given by the Holy Spirit, to see someone who has wronged you in the light of the Gospel. All of us are sinners and need the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, and I am no better than those two guys.
Darren and Terrell.
Grace is the power to love as Jesus did. Jesus saw people for who they were: sinners in need of a Savior. For those who have accepted Christ as Savior and have the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, should we not also see people for who they are: sinners in need of a Savior?
Darren pled guilty a couple months before Terrell’s trial started right after Thanksgiving. Greg’s mother endured the trial with us, every single day. She had brought a crochet project to work on—a calming activity for her. She and Greg’s dad sat and silently prayed as Greg, our son Jacob, or I was on stand, giving our testimonies from that night.
Terrell’s mother never showed up.
I actually felt sorry for him as I saw him look back when he heard the courtroom door open in the few moments before court was called into session. He was looking for his mom, but she never came. An aunt came and sat through two days of jury deliberation, but that was it. She never returned.
Grace is this: God extending to us what we do not deserve, whether that is compassion, or mercy, or sympathy. He expects us to extend that same grace to others who have wronged us, with the understanding that it is God who will seek justice. Romans 12:19 states, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”
As my preacher is known to say, “This is easy preachin’ but hard livin’.” It’s hard to look at a man that assisted in the shooting of your husband. It’s hard to stand before the judge and read a victim’s statement. Yet, when your cup is full of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is what you pour out. Grace leads to forgiveness and forgiveness leads to peace.
Grace leads us to worship and witness. In the weeks after the shooting, the media and the general public were astounded that we forgave the shooters so quickly. It wasn’t us—it was Christ in us. If we never experienced God’s grace, we couldn’t share it. Since we experienced God’s grace and forgiveness, Christ gave us Kingdom Vision to use this awful tragedy to lead people to Him, by extending forgiveness to the shooters.
Mind you, forgiving the shooters has not made Greg walk again. However, it has decreased bitterness. It hasn’t eliminated it—but when satan is trying to plant seeds of discontent, bitterness, and anger, we know to call upon the Name that is above all names, and ask Jesus to forgive Darren and Terrell again.
© 2018 Terrie McKee
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