Catch MemberPartner, Robert, from Seattle, shared with us a “sore thumb” story about forgiveness. The story was featured on TV, so it reached a large number of people and makes a statement that no sermon could ever equal. And even though it took place 14 years ago, the story is still playing on the internet. Indeed, it’s a story that’s living on and teaching still today, and here we are about to learn from it.
It’s the story about a young 20-year-old firefighter/paramedic who fell asleep at the wheel after a 24-hour day at work and crashed into a car with a young pregnant mother and her toddler. The toddler was not seriously injured but the mother and her unborn baby were killed. The firefighter was devastated. “I’m supposed to be a helper,” he said, “and here I am, causing this.”
The husband and father of the toddler, who was not present at the accident, was faced with a choice. As he called it, it was an opportunity to “demonstrate grace or to exact vengeance.” As a pastor who preached forgiveness, he chose grace.
As it turns out, this was just the beginning of the story. Two years after the day of the accident, the two men miraculously ran into each other in the parking lot of a shopping mall. They were both after condolence cards for each other. They hugged and cried and spent two hours talking, suddenly realizing there was a bond between them. Now, defying all odds, they are fast friends. Their families play together. The pastor’s new wife had a new baby on the same date the unborn child who perished in the accident was due. And the firefighter is now a big brother to that “toddler” who is now turning into a young woman as he hugs her and says, “I just want her to know that she’s loved. Throughout her whole life, I’ll be there for her, no matter what.”
This story shows what can happen in the real world when we take the high road. And this story lives on. To those who choose not to forgive, this is a “sore thumb” story. It sticks out because it is unnatural. Forgiveness is contrary to human nature. Many would say this guy is “getting away with murder” (which he did — the pastor asked the judge for the most lenient sentence possible), and what about all of us “getting away with murder” every day as we walk in God’s grace?
Like the pastor says, “forgiveness is a choice.” You don’t wait for the feeling to forgive. You choose it; everything else comes later.
To read more about this story and see the video, click on the picture above.
And a special thanks to Robert for sharing the story with us. Also, Robert wants to encourage other MemberPartners to increase their monthly contribution, and those who are not yet-MemberPartners to sign up. We are in our last week of Mike’s $500 Match, worth $1,000 of sustainable monthly income for the Catch if we make it, and we have $260 to go. Almost halfway there. If you care about the Catch, please don’t let this opportunity go by!
I personal know this is a fact: “Like the pastor says, “forgiveness is a choice.” You don’t wait for the feeling to forgive. You choose it; everything else comes later.”
And boy oh boy that video is very moving!
PS Thx for posting it….
Thank you for sharing the most wonderful story of forgiveness. We all need to hear and see that story every day. Choose love over bitterness.
We had a mass shooting in downtown Seattle last evening that left one bystander dead and seven others injured, one critically and another a young child.
None of these souls were directly involved in the gunfire except for being in the paths of the bullets that struck them during rush hour at a popular hub of the city.
As of this writing two suspects are still at large, their reasons unknown.
The city is stunned expressing grief, disbelief, and anger with many demanding swift justice once the perpetrators are caught.
And for many of them, swift justice means swift vengeance.
The “sore thumb” story of the firefighter and pastor, while both difficult and heartwarming, is fairly easy for those of us “churchified saints” to accept and even try to emulate because it’s something we might be able to wrap our heads and hearts around:
Two respectable members of the community; a tragic accident; no underlying causes such as alcohol, drugs, or evil intent; a time of healing and forgiveness followed by a close-knit bond and promising future.
Sure, we can get behind stories like these because they have all the elements of lives lived victoriously in the end. Hurray for our side!
And, we need these stories. Their importance should never be diminished.
But, let’s come back to Seattle. (Or Chicago. Or New York. Or L.A.)
And let’s imagine we’re related to the shooting victims, the deceased and injured.
Will the “sore thumbs” of grace, mercy, and forgiveness be displayed?
Or will the “sore thumbs” of hostility and vengeance prevail?
This is the real test for us who profess to be Christians.
Yes, we’re permitted to go through the stages of grief, denial, anger, etc. but will we allow ourselves to complete the healing path to forgiveness and peace?
Where will we choose to find our solace and comfort?
If caught, the shooters may not “get away with murder” – at least in the justice system.
But what about us? Do we have it within us to forgive them as Pastor Erik forgave firefighter Matt? Like Jesus forgave each of us who sent Him to be murdered on the Cross?
As John asked, what about all of us “getting away with murder” every day as we walk in God’s grace?
As quoted above, “forgiveness is a choice.” You don’t wait for the feeling to forgive. You choose it; everything else comes later.
And the process of forgiving – and healing – begins…
“9-year old Judah is calm, forgives the shooters, and has never shown anger.”
This positive “sore thumb” story from KIRO 7 News in Seattle: