Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Speaking of GRACE
God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. Romans 5:19-21 NLT
CNN has been running a story all week (in four parts) of a preacher’s family, Rev. Robert and Ramona Nichols, which was terrorized for 6 years, endured 10 bombings, multiple shotgun blasts at the house, and cryptic threatening letters. The terror finally culminated when a lone gunman entered their parsonage and shot the preacher and his wife multiple times in front of the seven year old daughter (Rebecca) and their two year old son. The wife died immediately, and the preacher never recovered. He died a few years later, in a psyche ward, at the age of 46. These events happened 30 years ago.
The reason it’s in the news today is because the daughter, Rebecca Nichols, wrote a book about it, called “The Devil in Pew Number Seven.” In her book, she forgives the gunman, and she forgives the men who were responsible for the terror.
Here’s how a CNN reporter concludes the story: “Rebecca's book has cracked open long-buried memories and forced folks to grapple anew with decades-old events they never fully understood. She's stirred emotions of sorrow, guilt, anger, loss. But she's also opened a conversation about faith and forgiveness.
After the shooting, Rebecca moved away from all that was dear -- her church, her friends, her school. Her father never fully recovered physically or emotionally. He died seven years after the shooting. Rebecca was 14; her brother Daniel, 9. They could so easily have been ruined.
Yet Rebecca found strength, in her faith, in her family that remained and in the love instilled by her parents.
"I wasn't going to throw the rest of my life away for anger and bitterness," she told me. "Just because my parents' lives were over, didn't mean that mine was, too."
I ask Rebecca: "Are you crazy to forgive?"
"I'll tell you how I respond to that," she says. "If I had not forgiven, I would be crazy in an institution somewhere. My parents had planted the seeds of forgiveness in me as a little girl: Pray for those who persecute you and bless those who curse you. Sometimes, when people forgive, they feel like they're saying what that person did was OK. That's not what it's doing. When you forgive, you're letting go of the pain and giving it to God."”