Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What if...from the soil of tragedy a miracle blossomed?

A year ago or so, I was caught up in the tragedy of this following story because the woman involved had been at one time my older children's stepmother and is also a friend of my sister's. Honestly, all I saw was the pain that I knew was present in so many lives involved. I never thought about how God might step in and do something miraculous. Why do I forget sometimes the amazing things he can do when someone opens their heart to him?

Lori's story reminds me once again how nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible when you throw yourself in God's arms.

A Life Changed by Forgiveness: New Hope Wesleyan Embraces Driver Involved in Fatality

Forgive that driver who cut us off at the exit? Okay. Forgive the driver on her cell phone that almost caused an accident? Well, after we have simmered down and relinquished it to God. But, forgive a drunk driver who took the life of a loved one? According to Jesus, forgiveness doesn’t have any parameters. He tells us, in Matthew 18:22, to forgive “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” One family—and their church—have forgiven much.

In the early hours of a crisp October morning, Lori was driving home after having a couple of drinks with her grown son at a local tavern. In just a few miles, her life would change forever. Out of nowhere, she heard a thud, and the car lurched unexpectedly. “I must have hit something in the road,” Lori thought. Slowly the realization sunk in that it might have been a person. Lori stopped and phoned the police. Soon, they arrived, placing her under arrest for taking the life of Grant, a 19-year-old young man who was wandering aimlessly down the middle of the road. He had been at a party and was inebriated. Grant had left the party on foot and lost his way.

Grant’s father, Bob, and stepmother, Sarah, have attended New Hope Wesleyan, Colombia City , Indiana , for many years. Rev. Barry Faucett ministered to Grant’s family, recalling that they felt they could forgive Lori from the beginning, and that Bob “believed that God was going to bring good from this nightmare.” When given the opportunity to meet with Lori, the couple agreed. Pastor Faucett says, “Nothing had to be said. They embraced and wept, she expressed her sorrow, her remorse; she asked for forgiveness, and it was offered.”

The next Sunday, Lori came to New Hope , and sat with Bob and Sarah. When the altar call was given, the couple went forward with Lori as she gave her heart to the Lord and found the forgiveness that only the Lord can give—forgiveness of sins. The church people jumped right in; loved her, accepted her, and drew her in. Lori shares, “They gave me the strength to want to continue with my life.”

Recently, Lori has been released from incarceration where many, inmates and staff alike, have been saved by her testimony of forgiveness. Bob and Lori accepted the opportunity to speak at a local school—Bob talked about the choices that people make, and Lori spoke on the dangers of social drinking. Other requests for them to share their testimonies are coming in. Bob shares, “God didn’t give us this life to be vindictive. We are supposed to forgive. Lori admits it has been hard, but adds, “I can’t be useful to other people if I don’t forgive myself.” Bob was right. The Lord took a nightmare and used it for His glory.

Story on Wesleyan.org web site

8 comments:

Randee said...

Isn't He amazing? How He works out all things for His purposes.

I'm humbled. I really don't have a clue when I proclaim...His ways are not our ways.

But, I know it's true.

Thank you for sharing this story, Anne.

Norka said...

This story has touched me deeply. I am humbled and I am in awe. Such powerful lessons. Thanks for sharing this.

Anne said...

Randee, I was humbled too, and so touched, like Norka. Lori just sent me a note after I wrote her the other day in regard to the story. Another little miracle in this is how God manages to be the bridge between two women who are both ex-wives of the same man!

This the note I got from Lori:

Anne,

"Thank you for your prayers. I very much appreciate them. Please continue to pray for Bob Reilly and myself as we attempt to reach out to others. We spoke at a high school with an audience of 400+ for Operation Prom. We did an interview for the Fort Wayne paper and will continue as long as we have interested associations requesting our story.

Yes, we have an awesome amazing God. There is absolutely no way I could have survived the last year and a half without my faith.

Again, thank you Anne."

Lori Arriaga said...

Stories like this always bring on the waterworks, they are tears of joy though because I see just how amazing God can be to bring such a great miracle out of such a tragedy and then giving me great hope for even the smallest of trials in my own life and of those around me.

lifecoachlynn said...

since forgiveness is a foreign concept to the rest of the world, this 'breath of fresh air' has a power behind it called God.
Our godly response to situations where the world would justify revenge is the best way we can show Christ to others.

Randee said...

Lynn,

I think we need to address this issue of "forgiveness" in our coaching circles.

What do you think?

Sheri said...

Last summer in our community the lives of several families were changed forever. In a matter of moments three teenage boys were killed in a car accident. The man who caused the accident was just recently sentenced. The parents of the victims were given their time to address the young man.

The hate, anger and malicious words that were thrown at this man was deeply saddening. I can't imagine what it was like for him. Wasn't it punishment enough knowing what he had done?

I also can't imagine having that kind of unforgiveness in my heart. It must eat away little by little every day.

I would hope that if I were ever faced with a tragedy like that, that Christ would shine through me.

Randee said...

Amen, amen, and amen.

Imagine...a world chock-full of forgiveness as common standard.