"I can't believe it. How can you be so calm? The president just pardoned a man who helped plan your husband's murder," Janice exclaimed.
"I'm not going to deny it. It's hard to watch him go free. But it's not up to me. Not in the end, at least. It's not up to the judge or the president either," Linda stated. "Besides, I think it may be good for him."
"Of course it's good for him. He'll get off scot-free when he should be rotting in jail. Free to play with his kids, free to live with his wife, and free to plan another murder. I just don't understand it."
"You know, after Jim was killed, I would have done anything to get my hands on anyone involved. I was so mad. How could they do this to Jim? To me? But then my friend Donna gave me my gift of freedom."
"What's that?" Janice asked skeptically.
"Forgiveness. I realized if I forgave the men who played a part in Jim's death, then I didn't have to worry about it any more. If I could forgive them, I wouldn't have to spend my life seeking revenge and making sure they stayed behind bars. Forgiveness was like having the burden taken off me," Linda explained. "Donna led me to the Lord that day. Before, I didn't see the point. If God was God, why did bad things happen?"
"Exactly," Janice agreed.
"But then I realized I don't deserve anything good in the first place."
"You've lost me."
"Janice, what would you do if you could decide the fate of Jim's killers?"
"I'd make sure they suffered the same fate your husband did. Give them a taste of their own medicine."
"Now pretend you were the killer. You knew you had done wrong and deserved punishment. Imagine the president gave you a full pardon. You were free to go. All he wanted was for you to accept the pardon and be devoted to him." What would you think?" Linda inquired.
"I wouldn't know what to think. I don't know if I'd be able to take it. I think if I did take his pardon, it would be worse than the punishment. His mercy would be so overwhelming."
"Exactly. It's not a perfect analogy, but in many ways, that is what Christ did for us," Linda explained. "You see, anything we do that displeases God is sin. God can't stand sin. But He did something incredible. He gave us His Son, Jesus. Jesus is our pardon. He died on the cross as the punishment for our sin."
"I think I understand, Linda. The president didn't have to pardon that man. Just like Jesus didn't have to die for you. Or for me. The president didn't pardon him because he condoned what he did. It was an example. Just like Christ died as an example of God's love for us."
"You have been listening in church these past few weeks," Linda joked.
Janice laughed. "I've been running from God my whole life. Didn't think I was worthy of His love."
"But that's the whole point. We don't have to be worthy. All we have to do is accept His gift. His pardon."
Janice held back the tears. "Linda, I'm ready. Will you help me find the words?"
"Of course. Father God, I come before You today praising you for drawing Janice to Your love and mercy...."
Janice's vice choked up with the tears which now fell freely. "...And God, I forgive those men who took Jim's life. If You can forgive me for a lifetime of running from You, than I can forgive too. Thank you for the pardon you have given to anyone who will accept it. And thank You for opening my eyes so I could accept it. In Jesus' name, amen."
"Amen," Linda repeated. "So, how do you feel?"
"I feelů free. Like I'm not carrying the burden anymore because Christ has taken it."
Linda nodded knowingly. "Yep. Hey, you know the Bible says that the angels in heaven celebrate over one sinner who repents, right? Let's have a celebration of our own, on me"
"Now you're talking. Let's go," Janice said, as she took Linda's hand and walked out the door. "Last one in the car's a rotten egg," she teased as she broke free, running as though she didn't have a care in the world. "This is the life!"
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