Can murder separate us from the love of God?
Us to GOD: Couldn’t you script my life more like a half-hour TV show? I prefer a predictable plot. I can handle minor conflict. Even a few tears. But within a precise time frame. I need a neat, total resolution — a quick “happy ever after.”
GOD to Us: “I don’t think the way you think.” 1
They sat on opposite sides of the courtroom at the sentencing hearing: the blind grandfather and the shy young-adult grandson. The loving bond between them had been ripped apart by a horrible crime.
Sitting on one side with stunned family and friends was the grandson. He was waiting for the judge to pronounce sentence on his dad’s murder of his wife, the young man’s beloved stepmother.
Separated by a wall of bailiffs, the young man’s grandfather sat on the other side of the courtroom. Looking lost and grief-stricken from his daughter’s death, he was surrounded by a sea of angry, resentful family members.
I sat at the side of the convicted murderer, my long-time friend, pondering why this had happened. His marriage to his deceased wife had greatly blessed both their families. A special relationship had developed between grandfather and grandson: a nurturing mentor for the younger man, and much needed support for the older one. Their most special times together were when the grandson would visit his grandfather’s ranch, and they’d ride horses together.
Then, overnight, the murder seemed to destroy all the good that had previously existed. Separation between the two families was absolute. Grief and hatred allowed for no exceptions. The relationship between grandfather and grandson had been severed for more than two years.
The sentencing concluded. The bailiffs let the grandson and his dad’s supporters leave the courtroom first. Delayed outside in a crowded hallway, this group heard a noise and looked up. It was the victim’s family, slowly and grimly walking toward them. No one spoke or matched glances. It looked like God’s love for those families had been defeated - that evil had won - and all that remained for everyone was an irreversible sense of despair, loss, and hatred.
Then I noticed the grandson focusing on his grandpa, who saw no one as he slowly walked by. You could see a yearning indecision in the young man’s face. He wanted to reach out. But wouldn’t his step-mother’s family hate him, too? Wouldn’t they shun someone whose presence reminded them of their loss? Maybe his grandpa didn’t care about him anymore, either.
But the grandson was obviously impelled by a Mind and Love greater than his own. Looking neither right nor left, he moved steadily into the crowd of angry mourners. The crowd said nothing, and almost biblically parted to let him through.
Reaching the old man’s side, the grandson lightly touched his lost friend on the arm. The grandfather stopped. Turned to face him. “Grandpa - it’s John,” the young man said softly. The grandfather paused timelessly. But it was long enough for grace to establish its presence and power. Reaching out both arms, the grandfather called his grandson’s name and embraced him. And as they held each other…Love won.
- Isaiah 55: 8 (The Message) ↩
Topics: Family | Tags: court, criminal, forgiveness, grief, life sentence, murder