Could you forgive a drunk driver if they took the life of one of your loved ones?
In one community, this unthinkable horror became a reality after learning that a drunk driver took the life of their local pastor.
But instead of responding in anger and hate, the pastor’s family and church congregation publicly lived out their faith during the court hearing – shocking the courtroom and even bringing an attorney to tears. And just wait until you hear all that happened.
Pastor Verlyn Strenge was driving his jeep when his life was taken unexpectedly by a drunk driver named David Nelson – who was three times over the legal limit.
The pastor’s wife was injured but she survived – now a widow.
Tears were shed by all as they grieved the death of their beloved pastor.
But in the courtroom, the pastor’s family and community demonstrated radical grace and forgiveness – even hugging David Nelson and letting him know they forgave him.
Those watching the scene unfold were stunned.
“We have been forgiven so much, how could we not forgive you,” said church member Rick Moore.
Strenge’s daughter Jayme Nelson provided a very similar message.
“We forgive you, Mr. Nelson. As hard as it was at first, we want you to know that we have been praying for you for the past year, because we know your life has been impacted by the biggest mistake of your life,” she said.
Talk about actually LIVING OUT one’s faith in real time!
Of course, one can only do this by the grace of God – Who has forgiven us in our darkest moments.
In the courtroom, prosecutors and judges likely see it all.
From the sobbing mother glaring at the criminal, to the angry dad jumping over the table to attack the one who harmed his loved one.
While these reactions are human, and one would even argue a natural “urge” – they are a pure emotional response to pain.
But seeing the family of the pastor actually hug the drunk driver and extend such grace…
… this is something not commonly seen – and it points to a greater source.
To a non-believing world, it would likely cause anyone to at least pause and wonder what kind of faith a person must have to offer such radical forgiveness.
May we all pray God will give us the strength to offer such radical forgiveness to those who have hurt us.
Is there someone you are harboring unforgiveness towards in your life?
Consider writing in your prayer journal about the experience and then ask God to help you offer forgiveness.
The path of forgiveness isn’t always easy – but you will not have peace in your life until you are at peace with all people, as it depends on you.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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