Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)
TITLE: The Ultimate Parole
By Dana McReynolds
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He took a moment to flip through a small stack of neglected mail. Long gone were the notes of encouragement that he received after his trial. Occasionally a family member would send a card, but those were usually reserved for holidays. All too frequent were the letters of condemnation pronouncing him guilty time and time again. John had stopped reading them. One had even claimed he was going to hell. This was not news to him. In John’s eyes, he was already there and he had no idea how to get out.
All of a sudden John saw something that made his blood turn cold, a familiar name in the corner of an envelope. How could this be? The family had fought for the toughest sentence then washed their hands of him when he was locked away. They wanted to forget John was ever born. This couldn’t be good. John was afraid to read the letter but he felt that he owed it to them. He would forever be in debt to them. The least he could do was read their letter.
You are probably wondering why we are writing you now. It has been 14 months since the crash that killed our Amanda. After she died we poured out all of our energy into your prosecution. We turned every emotion into anger and directed it to you and every other drunken driver we heard about. We celebrated your sentencing. This sustained us for a while but then we realized that we had not won after all. A cloud of bitterness covered our lives. The only thing that could break through this cloud was the sunlight of forgiveness.
Amanda is in heaven now. Our greatest hope is to be there with her one day. Our turning point came when a great friend pointed out to us that you could be there too. Yes, you, John. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, accept him into your heart and live for him, then you will spend eternity in heaven. At first we were shocked. We had never considered the possibility that the man who killed our daughter could ever be forgiven. We won’t lie, we didn’t want you there. We actually got angry all over again just thinking about it. But we knew that it was true. From God’s perspective everyone is a sinner. He has forgiven us, therefore we must forgive you.
We want you to know that there is hope for you. The same hope that is carrying us through a life without our daughter will carry you through your prison sentence and beyond. It is a free gift and it can be yours.
John was stunned. He’d heard the message of forgiveness before, but it sounded too easy. Coming from Amanda’s parents, who had every reason to hate him, it held more weight. A new door of possibility had been opened. John immediately felt a burden lifted as he was granted their forgiveness. How much lighter would he feel after receiving the forgiveness of God? He didn’t want to wait a minute longer to find out. John fell to his knees and poured himself out to his Heavenly Father confessing his sins and begging for forgiveness.
John knew he had a long, hard road ahead of him. After serving his sentence he would have to find his new place in the outside world. But he wouldn’t drown himself in his worries anymore. John found something he never had before, a life preserver called hope.
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