Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Friend to Friend
Trish Campbell’s life was bursting with promise. It was Friday, June 27, and her son, Wayne, was home from Camden South Carolina Military Academy. The 16-year-old cadet had just received his driver’s license and a new truck. In just four days, Trish would be marrying Teddy and then honeymooning on an Alaskan cruise. Life was good.
Wayne had plans to spend the weekend with one of his best friends from the Academy, Karl. Karl had recently graduated from Camden and was scheduled to start classes at The Citadel in the fall. He was an “A” student and graduated second in his class at Camden. He was president of the honor society and the fine arts club, lieutenant governor of the key club for North and South Carolina, captain of the soccer and wrestling teams, and company commander to 65 cadets in his senior year.
Trish liked Karl. He was outgoing, polite, and seemed responsible. She also trusted his parents. His father was a pastor at a large church, and his mother was a former school board member.
Trish didn’t feel comfortable with Wayne driving his new truck out of town in rush hour traffic to Karl’s, so she rode along with him as her fiancée followed behind to bring her back home.
“I love you,” she said repeatedly before leaving Wayne at Karl’s home.
“I love you too, Mom,” he replied as he hugged her several times.
What Trish didn’t know was that the boys had a secret. Nineteen-year-old Karl and his friends had planned a party. They had the place—a nearby field. They had an alibi—a lie that they were spending the night with a friend. They had a keg of beer—purchased by an older boy.
Around midnight Karl and his best friend, Wayne, jumped into a Jeep. Karl was at the wheel. About a quarter of a mile from the party, Karl’s Jeep drifted left. He overcorrected and cut a hard right, then back to the left. The Jeep and the driver were out of control. The right-side tires blew and the rims dug into the road. Then the Jeep flipped and ejected Wayne about 50 feet onto the pavement. Karl’s upper lip was torn and hanging, but he still did not understand the gravity of the situation. For the first time he realized he might be drunk.
The tranquility of the early Sunday morning was pierced by sirens, the swooshing of a rescue helicopter, and wailing of young adults. As the helicopter airlifted Wayne to the hospital, Karl rode in the ambulance. But Wayne never left the hospital. Six days after he had arrived, Wayne Campbell, the only son of Trish Campbell, died.
Several months later, Karl had his day in court, facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter and possible prison time. One by one, men and women stood and testified on Karl’s behalf—his soccer coach, his teachers, and his Sunday school teacher. After the prosecutor presented his case, Trish, asked if she could address the court. Permission was granted.
“My son and Karl went to school together and were best friends,” Trish began. “I love this boy like my own child. It’s not my wish that he should serve prison time. I understand that he will have some type of punishment, and I accept that. But I know Karl is truly remorseful and never intended for this to happen.
“I am a sinner, and God sent His only Son to save me and forgive me of my sins. I’m not worthy of that forgiveness. So why wouldn’t I forgive Karl?”
Those who stood by to hear and see the interaction were startled at such forgiveness and grace pouring from this woman. It was not human, but divine.
I know this family. I lived this story. My heart breaks even now thinking of precious Karl and the pain he has had to suffer for one bad choice. But you know what? We all make bad choices every day. His came at a very high price.
I see myself in Karl. No, I haven’t been convicted of involuntary manslaughter while driving impaired, but I’ve done other things that have been detrimental to people’s souls…and to my own. And then I see Wayne’s mother approach the bench on Karl’s behalf. I see Jesus approach the bench on my behalf.
“Judge,” He would say. “I love this woman like she is my own…she is my own. I know she will suffer consequences here on earth for the poor choices she has made, but I do not want her to serve any jail time. I ask that You extend mercy and grace to this woman—that You commute her sentence and set her free.”
Then the gavel comes down and the Judge announces to the court, “No jail time. She’s free.”
How about you? Have you accepted God’s grace and forgiveness in your life? Is there someone you need to forgive today?
Dear God, thank You for forgiving me and wiping my slate clean. Help me to show that same mercy and grace to others as I forgive quickly and completely.
In Jesus’ Name,
Not It’s Your Turn
What does it look like to “forgive as the Lord forgave you”?
Is there someone that God is calling you to forgive today?
Will you do it? If so, click over to my Facebook page and leave a comment that says, “Today I have forgiven.” You don’t need to put the person’s name. God knows.
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion was taken from my book, Your Scars Are Beautiful to God: Finding Peace and Purpose in the Hurts of Your Past. We all have wounds. We’ve all make mistakes. We’ve all been hurt by other people. It’s time to turn that pain into purpose, and use the wounds for good. Let’s learn how together. You can do it!
And if you love reading inspirational stories, this story is also included in the collection of 100 of my favorite devotions, Listening to God Day by Day.