Fresh Hope – 6th July 2018

Meg Carrie and I met a few years ago in South Africa. I had known Meg’s brother Andy for a few years before I met her. Andy was the most full-of-life person you could have ever met. He was full of so much humour, colour and energy. You could not box him in. His zest for life was uncontainable. Thousands of people (that’s the kind of influence he had) were totally heartbroken when they received news that Andy had been killed by a drunk driver. I was not only broken that someone who loved life so much had passed, but also that my friend Meg now had to grieve the loss of her 20-something year old brother.  Andy and Meg had a very close sibling relationship and I have been so proud to have watched the way she has since grieved and processed the loss of her brother in the most forgiving, grace-filled, real and healthy way. Below is some of her story, which I’m sure you will gain much from.

The accident scene was a cloud of strangers and lights and anger.

I remember seeing a woman screaming at the back of the police van, spewing out a host of words that I won’t repeat. Rage making itself known with every phrase that pushed out of her mouth and landed on the van with a cold, hard punch. I remember thinking at that exact moment “there’s no time for that, and there will never be time for that.” 

This my friends, is a moment where I’m going to grab my remote and press pause. I’m going to shift over to the side of my couch and invite you to come sit next to me so that I can look you in the eye and explain to you what really happened in those 10 seemingly menial seconds. It is a moment that I never want to forget. And a moment that I will reflect on always, and thank God for extending His forgiveness to me and through me. It was in that small 10-second interaction that blame, anger, rage and unforgiveness were laid at the foot of the Cross. In a single moment, God untangled my head and my heart from what could’ve been 50 plus years of a painful mess. I want to tell you that in that moment, I forgave that man. I forgave him for drinking too much and making the decision to get behind the wheel. I forgave him for killing Andrew. I forgave him for running away when my brother was lying on the side of the road alone. I forgave him for making a mistake, because he never went out looking to bring death. I forgave him because He forgave me first.

You see the thing is that unforgiveness sneaks in like a wolf dressed in sheep’s skin. It tells you that it will hurt the other, it whispers in your ear that “they deserve to feel the pain”, it reminds you everyday that they are not worthy to be released by your forgiveness and that the trap you have them in is “justice being served.” But the opposite is to be true, the damage that you are attempting to inflict on them is rotting inside of you. It will sit at the bottom of YOUR heart, it will weigh down YOUR shoulders, it will consume YOUR thoughts and skew YOUR vision. The damage is more internal than external and the longer you listen to those whispers the less you are able to decipher the truth from reality.

As a family, we have always openly communicated with each other from day one. We had the hard conversations, we thrashed things out – all of us together and one on one. This I am so grateful for. It meant that my brothers, Steve and Andrew, who didn’t always see eye to eye sat across from each other 2 months before the accident and forgave each other, they exchanged “I love you’s” and made right when everything in them was shouting “but I’m right and you’re wrong.” I’m going to say that again so that it sinks in a little deeper: they made right with each other, when EVERYTHING in them was shouting “BUT I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE WRONG!”

Friends, this is a challenge. My brother knew how to forgive, and he also knew how to say sorry. He humbled himself countless times in front of me for mistakes he’d made, and equally sat in front of people who had hurt him, and outright forgave them. Today is a good day to take a look at your heart and analyse it to the depths. Ask the hard questions. The ones that you ignore. Is there someone you need to forgive? It might mean sitting across from them at a table and chatting it through. Is there someone you need to make right with? It may mean laying your pride aside and humbling yourself before them with a painful “I’m sorry.” Is everything in your human-ness pushing back at the thought of forgiveness? Take it to the ultimate Forgiver, let Him work in you and through you because the freedom you didn’t know you needed is on the other side. Maybe it’s you who needs to forgive yourself, you who has ensnared yourself in the trap of unforgiveness and you who needs to unlatch the grip. 

Sometimes forgiveness looks like a practical step: make a phone call, write a letter, send them a message and ask for their time. Don’t let it rob you, deal with it today, deal with it now. There is freedom in forgiveness’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.