Murder By Family: A Father Forgives His Son's Betrayal
- Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Bart was wheeled into the room a few moments later. I learned that he had rushed into the dark house and, in an apparent scuffle with the shooter, had been shot in the left arm.
He was in shock, reacting to the horror of everything. The trauma team scurried around, cleaning wounds and applying temporary casts, since both of us had broken arms. The bullet had entered my right shoulder and traveled through the arm muscle, striking midhumerus and shattering the bone. Bart’s upper left arm was broken where the bullet had hit. Amid the organized chaos, things began to sink in; God was allowing the truth to come a little at a time.
I felt God’s presence and comfort. On the one hand I was beginning to absorb how radically things had changed, while on the other I had a calm assurance that I was not alone and that God would knit whatever happened into his plans for good. Scriptures of comfort came to mind. It was as if God gave me a shot of emotional Novocain. Even though I was becoming more aware of the extent of the tragedy, I trusted God.
Before I knew it, I was being wheeled out of the trauma center and into a corridor. As we passed through the big emergency room doors, I was met by forty or fifty friends.
Rolling through a canyon of loved ones, I was touched by the grief and worry in their eyes, and began to comfort them. I can’t explain it; the words just came out. My response was unexpected and somewhat out of character.
Later that night, after the nurses had gone, I was finally alone with my thoughts. I lay there trying to wrap my mind around it all—and wasn’t doing a very good job. Piece by piece the reality settled onto my soul.
Minute 180—Reality and Choices
My wife, my lover, my best friend, the one who knew and loved me better than any other, to whom I had been true for twenty-eight years, was dead. My son Kevin, with his incredible
Christian faith, his crazy, fun-loving personality, and his passion for sports and the outdoors, would never graduate from college, marry, or give us grandchildren. Bart was down the hall suffering a grief and shock that seemed even more intense than what I was feeling. At fifty-five, I would be facing the last third of my life without most of my family.
For years I have told people that faith is not a feeling but a conscious act of will. You have to choose to trust and believe, especially when circumstances and your feelings are screaming that you can’t trust God. The Bible says that God can take everything and work it for good for those who love him and are called to his service; well, Tricia and Kevin loved him, and so did I. We were all called to his service, but how could these murders possibly be worked for good? I could imagine no such scenario. And if that verse of the Bible was untrustworthy, what other verses might not apply when I needed them? I might as well throw it all away.
So here I was, in the middle of a horrific situation in which I had to choose to either go with my feelings and slip into bitterness and despair, or follow my own advice and stand on God’s promises even when they don’t make sense.
I wrestled with this for a long time because I knew that I could go either way—and that the consequences could be serious. Finally, I chose to stand on the promises of God. It was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made.
When I resolved to trust God, I felt a peace come over me that had nothing to do with the morphine drip. Then the next thought popped unexpectedly into my mind: What about the shooter?
I realized that God was offering me the ability to forgive, if I wanted to take advantage of it. Did I really want to forgive this guy? I know the Bible says we are to forgive those who hurt us. I know God tells us that vengeance is his, if he chooses to dispense it. I have even heard secular health professionals say that forgiveness is the most important thing people can do to heal themselves. But did I really want to forgive, even if God was offering a supernatural ability to do so?
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