It is so stark that when I read about it in the Sunday morning paper, I cut out the article and saved it. The story was about a 76-year-old woman who's car had been stolen and totaled by a 17-year-old boy. When she finally met the teenager in court she started with a quote: "When we forgive, we don't deny the hurt that we have received. We don't deny that it was wrong, but we acknowledge that there is more to the offender than the offense." *
As if that wasn't powerful enough, this elderly woman captivates the entire courtroom with her story and her grace. She says she'd like the teen to know that she prays for him daily, that it's not too late for him, and that she sincerely cares for him. She gives the teen two stones. On one is written the word "hope" on the other "a special prayer for you". The teen takes the stones sobbing and the elderly woman hugs the person who stole from her life.
The judge residing over the preceding shared this: "I think many of us have been doing this work for a very, very long time, and I have never seen such a powerful moment in my career." *
Grace transforms lives.
It seems backward and unfair. Shouldn't there be justice for the crimes done to us? To society?
Yet that's where the power of grace is found: in that it is unfair. And if the one receiving such grace knows that it is unfair, if they know that they deserve punishment and not pardon, justice and not grace, then the result is often a life transformed...far quicker than via any justice.
I don't get grace, and yet the entire Christian faith is based on grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."
Grace is a gift. It is not by works, it is not earned. In fact it is given to the undeserved.
The truth is: we are all the undeserved. Every single one of us.
Where have you seen grace in your life?
That's a question I've been asking myself lately. I can recall times where I've received grace from my husband, my parents, and others. Yet more often than not I remember the punishments, the earning, the meriting, the works.
An even harder question is: when have you given grace to others in your life?
In a world of ungrace, grace arrives as a stark contrast to what we know. Yet it's power to change me, to change others, is unsurpassed. So this day, remember the grace that you yourself have received, and in doing so, freely extend it to others. It does not deny the offense, yet it just may have the power to transform the offender.
*Forgiveness, Hope Win Out Over Crime in Juvenile Court by Jon Tevlin, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Section B, Sunday, March 18, 2012; for full article click this link:http://www.startribune.com/local/143062876.html?refer=y
Originally published through Fruitful Branches Coaching
© 2012 Mellany Zepelak and Fruitful Branches Coaching LLC