The prison band at St. Clair Correctional in Alabama is about as good as it gets. They play like professionals, they have written songs and they even have a music video of their band that has gone to churches outside the walls.
At our We Care Revival chapel service there last week (Jan 25), they sang a song for Bullet Bob. “You guys remember Bob?” the guitar player asked. A cheer of recognition went up from the prison chapel.
“As you know, we made a music video here in our chapel. Our video was being shown at a church in Montgomery and during the presentation, a loud gasp erupted from a woman in the congregation. As she watched the video, the camera scanned the prison chapel and she saw Bullet Bob, the man who had murdered her father! Bob was serving a life sentence for this crime and at the time was in the prison infirmary with terminal cancer. When this woman pulled herself together, she went up and talked to the people who were in charge showing the DVD.”
“How is Bob?” she asked. When she found out that he was basically on his death bed, she asked if she could get a message to him.
“Could you please let Bob know that we as a family forgive him? We have no ill feelings or enmity toward him and we hope that he is right with God. Please let him know that he is forgiven.”
The song leader who was sharing this story in our chapel service told how he was able to go to the prison hospital and deliver this message of forgiveness and freedom.
“The Smith* family wants you to know that they forgive you.” The look on Bullet Bob’s face was one of relief, disbelief, joy, amazement… He looked up at the ceiling from his hospital bed and let out a sigh and began to weep uncontrollably. He died several weeks later. In victory. Forgiven!”
Now folks, no matter how correct and right it is to forgive, that would be tough. I pray that I can be a forgiving person. One of the most terrifying verses in all of scripture is found in Matthew 6 right after the Lord’s Prayer:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, you heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” -Mt. 6:14,15
If we want forgiveness, we must forgive.
“Forgiveness is the only way to heal.” – Miguel Ruiz
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” -C.S. Lewis
“All I know is that justice did not heal me. Forgiveness did. The cost of forgiveness is nothing compared to the benefits of forgiveness. I feel like I have found new life through forgiveness.” -Debbie Morris, author, Forgiving the Dead Man Walking
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” -Corrie Ten Boom