*Not long ago a young woman at a retreat told a long tale of how she had come to know the Lord, had rebelled against Him and gone far afield, had been brought back, rebelled again, and then in mercy and grace the Lord had forgiven her, given her a Christian husband and happiness. He was a highway patrolman, and one day, attending a traffic accident, he was struck by a passing car and critically injured. Gwenn herself was in bed at the time, with a threatened miscarriage. Three days later he died. That same afternoon her father died, and in six more days she lost her baby. She told her story quietly, without tears, although nearly everyone else was weeping. She finished by saying that she found, by her husband’s deathbed, what she had sought for so long—the gracious presence of Christ Himself.
In a letter to me she wrote:
About a week after the retreat my phone rang. It was the wife of the man who hit my husband. She said she had to call because her sister-in-law had just called her, having come home from a Bible study where a woman shared some of what I said that morning at the retreat. She literally pleaded with me, if ever the inclination were there, to somehow communicate to her husband the things I had said, because he is so guilt ridden and unable to forgive himself. When I hung up the phone, I was shaking and ran in and fell beside my bed and cried my heart out, knowing, I guess, that such a thing can only be accomplished by God within me--for it's like being stretched far beyond who I am. To hold onto my pain, despising its source, is far easier because it's far more natural. But as a friend said, my forgiving him and expressing that forgiveness directly via a letter or visit could very possibly hold the key, the only key, that can release him from his prison. . . . And it just very well could be the one area I have not dealt with that could result in the completion of healing within me. My friend pointed out that, as a child of God, I really have no choice. The nagging question, "Why, God, is it required of me to forgive so much?" needs not be answered. . . . Praise God for His amazing grace that takes us where we never thought we could go!
* excerpt taken from "Discipline: The Glad Surrender" by Elisabeth Elliot, pages 150-151