Changing History

I am writing this entry on Sunday. Our church service ended a few hours ago; it was one of those services I will remember for a while. Ron and Loretta Murray, members of our church, spoke about forgiveness.

It was a little over 1 year ago, December 9, 2007, when Ron and Loretta’s son, Matthew, went on a shooting rampage. He killed 2 young adults at the Youth with a Mission training center in Arvada, CO. A little more than 12 hours later he killed two sisters at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Shortly after that his life was ended with a bullet.

This morning, April 26, the Murray’s shared about their journey of the past 16 months. They shared about meeting the parents and families of those whom their son had killed. There was nothing easy about these visits, emotions were raw, and the humiliation was unbearable.

During each of these encounters Ron and Loretta found the strength to ask for forgiveness. In each case forgiveness was offered.

As the service drew to a close, a final comment was made by the Murray’s. “Forgiveness has the power to change history.”

I had never thought of this before! As humans we are not created for revenge. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t heal the hurt. Forgiveness is the first step towards healing.

There is something in the human psyche that wants, even demands, revenge for the wrongs done to us. “If you are going to hurt me, then be prepared for shock and awe.” Getting even is important, some even think of this as a right.

Hearing about how Jesus forgives us is one thing, but having to forgive someone who has done my family or myself great harm is another matter completely. Yet this is the message I heard today. The Murray’s have been able to move forward because they asked for and received forgiveness for what their son had done.

Desmond Tutu talks about the need to forgive in his book, “No Future without Forgiveness:”

God does have a sense of humor. Who in their right minds could have ever imagined South Africa to be an example of anything but the most ghastly awfulness… (but) our experiment is going to succeed, not for our glory and aggrandizement but for the sake of God’s world. God wants to show that there is life after conflict and repression – that because of forgiveness there is a future.

I have a sneaking suspicion that that forgiveness is difficult both to give and to ask for because we are a proud people. Pride and forgiveness don’t often go hand in hand.

The offering of forgiveness wields a power that can change history. It was Jesus who died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. That event was a history changer.

When we forgive, history begins to bend in a better direction. Forgiveness creates a space for us to live together in spite of the pain and hurt we inflict on each other.