“I said I was sorry. If I could only go back and change things! I told her how foolish I was, how wrong I was, countless times, every day for several months now!” said Peter as his pitch rose and speech hastened. The pastor sat expressionless across the table for a few moments, then suddenly leaned forward and looked Peter squarely in the eyes.
“Peter, did you mean it? Was your sorrow, is your sorrow genuine?” Peter was taken back at such a question. Astonished, he responded, “Yes, of course!” His voice was shaky, barely above a whisper, but in the silence and emptiness of the room the words echoed.
The pastor continued to gaze at Peter seemingly forever in the tension. Peter stared back, his look of astonishment fading slowly; then suddenly a sob burst forth. One sob broke the dam of tears that Peter was choking back. Now they flowed freely, and soon he was bawling outright. It was a pitiful sight to behold, a fully grown man in his late twenties crying without restraint, without the will to restrain. Yet it was beautiful, it was the kind of crying that, when witnessed, you cannot help but cry yourself. There was no mistake about it. These were tears of genuine remorse.
The pastor, who was now misty eyed himself, slowly got up from the end of the table and patted Peter on the back, who was now sucking in great gulps of air between fits of crying. His hands covered his face in shame.
“Peter, I believe you. Your tears are all the proof I need. I am sorry to ask you such a seemingly heartless question, but I knew that if you were genuine such a question would evoke this kind of response. I see how much this is burdening you, and-“
“No you don’t! I am sorry pastor, but you just don’t understand. She hates me! My own wife, and to be honest sometimes I think she is right to hate me. I can’t take back what happened, I can’t change the past. I’ve been cleaning up my life. It’s been nearly half a year now since it happened, and I started coming here to church soon after. But she still won’t come, she is still mourning. And her morning, sir, I believe it has driven her to outright bitterness and hatred towards me! She won’t forgive me, and maybe she is right not to forgive me.”
Peter paused for a moment, his face still buried in his hands. Then the sobbing, which had become soft and slow, suddenly ceased. Peter looked up out of his hands straight at the pastor and said, “What I did is simply unforgivable.”
“My good friend, if you have learned but one thing in these months at church, surely it is that God offers forgiveness of any sins?” Peter, staring blinklessly at the table, said nothing.
“Peter, let me tell you a story from the Bible. King David was called by God Himself as a man after His own heart. And do you know what this man did? Not only did he commit adultery with another man’s wife, but he had the man murdered while fighting in war! David hid this for a while, possibly several years. But God sent the prophet Nathan, who rebuked David and pointed out his sin. Then the conviction and guilt that had undoubtedly been pent up inside David burst forth, and he repented. Psalm 51 records just a taste of David’s remorse. There David says ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.’ God forgave David and David was restored. God forgives all who confess their sins in true faith and repentance, and you have expressed that. Peter, have you asked God to forgive you?”
Realization hit Peter with blindsiding force. He had not asked God to forgive him. He now understood that he must, but he doubted.
“Even... even crashing your car and killing your precious, innocent eight year old daughter because you were drunk? God can even forgive that?”
“Yes, indeed He can, and He will. Isaiah says ‘though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”
Peter was outside walking back to his car. Before he left, he had asked God for forgiveness, but he was still unsure.
Then, something cool fell on Peter’s bare hand. It had begun to snow.
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