Pastor Walter Everett’s twenty-three-year-old son was shot to death in cold blood. After the killer was behind bars, the pastor had a large, impossible task before him’namely, forgiving the person who so callously cut short his son’s life, and tore the pastor’s heart to shreds in the process.
In the court case that followed, the murderer told the judge and those assembled in the courtroom he was sorry, but his voice and manner seemed insincere to all who heard him. This made forgiveness even more difficult for the grieving pastor.
It’s always difficult to give even an inch of grace to someone whose actions have brought enduring pain into your life. It’s especially difficult when the person doesn’t sincerely exhibit sorrow, repentance, and remorse.
But Pastor Everett knew forgiveness wasn’t an option. Eventually, in an act that amounted to nothing short of sheer determination and stubborn obedience, he composed a letter of forgiveness to the killer.
The pastor later learned that the young man, after reading the letter, had fallen to his knees. Sobbing beside his prison bunk, the killer asked Jesus to forgive his sins and come into his heart.
When Pastor Everett mailed his letter he had no idea what the result of his obedience would be. And neither do any of us. Pastor Everett had plenty of so-called ‘good’ reasons not to forgive his son’s killer. But he knew that none of them were quite good enough.
Men, who do you need to forgive?