I have been on a specific journey of forgiveness for over 23 years due to the murder of our eldest son. As I learned from God about the power, purpose and plan of forgiveness, I experienced the freedom promised from bitterness, hatred and a desire for revenge. In its place has come peace, growth and love for the man who perpetrated this evil. Learning to do "acts of forgiveness" and give a "blessing" as commanded in 1 Peter 3:9, resulted in this person that I only knew as a murderer to go from a monster in my mind, to a man whom God loved and Christ died for and, now, to being a brother-in-Christ. This is the power of the Resurrection!
A few years ago, I was standing in church and I had a powerful image from singing the phrase, "once an enemy, now seated at His table". That image was of our dining room table, and our children and grandchildren were all seated there, which is a common occurrence. But, others were at this table as well--the man who killed Tim and his children. And standing at the head of the table was Jesus Christ. It was a powerful image, that was repeated in my husband's mind that same morning. I took hope from that image to claim that the family of this man would also come into God's story and one day we would be welcomed together at the table of our Lord. Because of this, I joined with other family members in working to have this man released from prison. That finally occurred last August.
Two weeks ago, Sunday 13 March, the first stage of the "physical" fulfillment of this vision occurred. It is a day so wrapped in God's grace that it is hard to describe. For the first time, my husband and I met, face-to-face, this man. We picked him up as he waited for us on the streets of L.A., in front of his transition housing. We embraced, assured him of our total and complete forgiveness (having written of it for many years) and then went to lunch. Then--in the dining area of the Disney Concert Hall, the three of us sat at a table together, sharing a meal and our lives. It was amazing. Total peace, oneness and love. If anyone had predicted this--I would have said it was impossible, yet God did it. There was no anxiety, fear or overwhelming grief. Just total peace.
Seated at God's table. . .
As we parted, this man made the statement that summed up this incredible day. He said, "I knew God would make this day OK, but I never knew I could feel such JOY". Yes, at God's table we will only know joy. And, that joy is ours today because Christ died, was raised and is now seated in heaven, praying for us. God's table is being prepared. . . He allowed us to experience a glorious foretaste of what it will mean to be welcomed to it.