By now, this story has made the internet rounds. Probably everyone has seen it. I already posted it on FB a week ago, but I can't quit thinking about it.
[NOTE: I previously had the video embedded but it begins playing automatically every time anyone visits the main blog page and that's rather annoying! So...I have linked to it above. I apologize for the inconvenience.]
Erik made a choice many people wouldn't make. He chose not to punish to the fullest extent of the law and gain all he could to compensate for the tragic loss of his wife. That alone was a very Christian and grace-filled decision.
But for me, the magnificence is found in his next steps. He not only withheld punishment, but also lavished kindness on Matthew, the very guy responsible for her death. Matthew already carried the weight of his guilt and of the immense unintended consequences of his choice. That kind of guilt endangers the soul, keeping it trapped in a fragile place of vulnerability. The heaping on of punishment adds to that weight, but so does the withholding of good.
I weep at this story...and my tears are primarily for Matthew. I know Erik lost his wife. I know his daughter no longer has a mother. I know he has made unbelievable sacrifices. But I weep for Matthew...for the joy at having his burdened eased. The one who suffered tremendous loss, for which HE is responsible, has come alongside and helped shoulder his burden. He has been a recipient of True Grace.
I'm not sure the magnitude of that can be fully entered into unless you have borne a great burden of guilt...guilt that deprived others of good things...of joys in their life...joys that can't be recaptured...permanent, unreclaimable losses. When you've done that, you feel it. You carry it. And it is, quite simply, a crushing burden. The JOY of mercy...the BEAUTY of grace...the RELIEF of the heaviness is anticipated and longed for, even when not expected. I imagine the experience is glorious...and humbling.
I pray for a submissive, sanctified heart strong enough to extend this kind of mercy...and for a humble heart that responds with gratitude when that mercy is extended to me.