The Gift of Grace | Devotion #3: Christopher
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor
He was 26 years old, tall, thin, had sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, and was wearing standard issue prison “blues.” His name was Christopher. He looked more “normal” (whatever that means) than the inmates I had spoken to already that day. When I shook his hand, he smiled warmly and said, “Thank you for coming today.”
We were there to share the love of Jesus through the message of the Gospel, and I had no idea how long I had before the prison yard would be closed. I got straight to the point and said, “Christopher, do you know about the forgiveness that Jesus offers?” The next five minutes changed my life. That is how long it took him to tell me his story. He began, “Yes sir, I do know about forgiveness.” I simply asked, “How?” He answered, “Six years ago, I went to a party, drank too much, and got in my car to go home. On the way, I hit and killed two young kids. I got fifteen years.” He continued, “I served four years at Ross Correctional, and while I was there I got a letter from the 16-year-old sister of one of the kids that I killed. In that letter, she told me that she forgives me for what I did and that her family forgives me. Then she asked if she could come and visit me.” I was stunned and said nothing. He went on, “It took me a while to write back to her, but I finally did knowing that I deserved whatever she needed to say to me. A few days later I got a note from her telling me when she would be visiting.”
“Wow” is all I could say. Then he said, “I was really nervous that day, did not sleep, and could not eat. When I walked in and saw her, we both began to cry, and she hugged me. She told me again that they forgive me. She told me that her parents want to come to visit, but could not do it yet. Then she told me about what Jesus had done for me.” I could not speak. He went on, “I accepted Jesus with her that day in the visiting room.” Then he looked me in the eyes and said, “So, yes sir, I do know what forgiveness is.” I quietly said, “That is amazing.” He said, “I know. For a 16-year-old girl to come to a place like that, to visit someone like me, I could not believe it.” He then told me how the sister and father had visited him every other week for the last two years and that just a few days ago the mother came for the first time.
I was stunned when he told me what this dear mother said. He said, “She hugged me. She told me she forgave me. Then she held my hand and said, ‘When this first happened, we wanted you to pay. We never wanted you to get out. But now, we have been praying for you, and we do not want you to serve your whole sentence. So we are trying to talk to anyone we can to ask for an early release for you. When you get out, we want you to know that we will be your family.’” At this point, I must have been visibly overwhelmed because he looked at me, gave me a moment to digest, and then continued by saying, “It is not fair! But I know the Lord loves me like that. So, because of this, I will spend whatever years I have left in here trying to tell all these other guys about His forgiveness.”
At that, the whistles blew, and the yard was closed. We hugged, and I walked away rejoicing in the amazing grace and love of our God. To this day, I am still in awe at the love of God that compelled a 16-year-old girl to not only forgive but to go into a level three prison visiting room to share the Gospel with the young man who took her brother’s life. I am amazed at the power of the Gospel to reach and to rescue the lost. I am so thankful for that family and for what they have allowed Jesus to do in and through them. Though I have never seen him since (trust me I have looked), I am thankful he, I, and his “new” family will rejoice together in Heaven one day. What a gift we have in the Gospel!
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)