Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Because some of you are wondering. Because maybe you find yourself in a prison of one sort or another. Because my breath prayer is that it will bring Him glory. Because I want to thank those of you who prayed!
The courtroom is small but it feels full. The raspy voice of the judge reverberates through the tense air. It all seems so surreal, as if I am not really the mother of the dead child waiting my turn to speak to the one who killed her. My hands are clammy and there is a lump in my throat. I am not at all sure I can do this. Maybe I won’t. God, help me to be brave! It is time to stand up and move to the front. Up in front of where the lawyers sit they lead us. We stand and face him. Not ten feet away. The grandmothers speak first. I am nauseous. I hate to speak in front of people. I hate confrontation. I hate that this is my story! I wish so desperately that I could trade it in.
They finish and I step to the center. I decide to look him dead in the eyes. I will cope with the crowd by pretending they are not there. I am not addressing the court. My words are for him alone. They must be spoken. This is my persecution. This my chance to deny Jesus in front of men, or to acknowledge the work of His grace in me. My chance to take up the cross and follow him. God help me! I have decided… it has nothing to do with how I feel. I don’t trust my feelings. I entrust them. My voice is shaky and my husbands arm across my back must be holding me steady. There are hot tears. First mine and then his. My face crumples but I press on with the words.
“I sat wondering last night what I can possibly say that will make a difference today. Some words are more important than others you know. They weigh more.
I want to talk to you about prison. You have spent some time in jail now. You know what it is like to be locked away from the world and from freedom. And now you are waiting to hear your sentence.
I, too, have received a sentence. The day my little Makiah was ripped from my arms I received a lifetime sentence. I will be separated from my sweet baby for the rest of my earthly life. I cannot kiss her cheeks or hold her hand. I can’t fix her hair or play dolls. I cannot hear her voice or tell her how much I love her. Not as long as I live on this earth. I have a life sentence without parole.
Prison. But there is another prison. One of bitterness and unforgiveness. Every time the pain of my loss grabs my heart, bitterness and unforgiveness are waiting for me. But I know that not forgiving you would only put my heart in prison. So over and over again for the rest of my life I will keep saying the words that make me free, “I forgive.” I forgive you, his name, for robbing me of the most precious thing in my life, my daughter. And I will keep forgiving you for all the pain her death will continue to cause me as long as I am alive. It is not over for me.
Because there is another Prison. One you carry with you wherever you go… even when you walk out of this jail. A place where our hearts sit in darkness. If we are still there when we die, it leads to a place of total separation from everything that is good and happy and love. A place of total separation from God. We have all made wrong choices and we are all guilty. And there is only one way out of this prison. Only one way to escape a sentence of being in darkness forever. Jesus. Even though he was totally perfect, he sat in the chair marked ‘guilty’ for us and took our place. He served the sentence of death for us so that if we will thank him for it and give him our lives, we can be free. And I want you to be free in your heart because I am free. It is the only reason I can say “I forgive.” Because I know that I have been forgiven.
His name, I hope that you will realize that your heart is in a prison of darkness. And I hope that you will choose to take the hand that Jesus is offering you, and walk out of that prison into a life lived for God and an eternity full of the joy of being with him. Only you can decide to do that. But please know that there is a day coming when God himself will hold you responsible for all you have done. If you want to be found innocent, then you must ask Jesus to forgive you and thank him for taking your place by living the rest of your earthly life for God. He loves you, his name. And he wants you to make that choice. And I think my little Makiah would want you to as well.”