The wild frontier between grace and darkness is a desolate place. Emotions crash cruelly on rocky shores. Gray clouds hide the sun from view. All is shadow. It is here I must sit down and plan a funeral for a perpetrator. I don’t know how to do it. I know I don’t want to do it. How do I honor a man who violently stole so much from this child I love? My heart pounds rebelliously against my chest.
A few weeks ago a daughter and a father stood on opposite sides of the same court. I held her close after she bravely testified of the atrocities committed. He, without wavering, pled guilty. He was due to be sentenced for his crimes on September 9th but judgment came early. The report from prison notes that “he fell from his bed and hit his head on the floor.” He died 36 hours later from the resulting injuries.
She received the news like any child whose father is dead. She cried out for a daddy who has gone away. She cried for the time lost. She cried for all that he was. She cried for all that he was not. She cried because she loved him then and she loves him still.
When the tears passed she told me this…
”When we saw my father in court he said he had been going to church in the prison. He said that he wanted to follow Jesus. I think that maybe God loves my father too. Maybe God loves him too much to let him suffer in prison so he just waited until my father accepted Jesus and then he let him die because God doesn’t want anyone to live in chains. I think God loves my father.”
And my walls came tumbling down. There it is. Grace without bounds is a child’s heart that despite years of torment loves anyway. When Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I think perhaps this is what he had in mind. Unwavering love in the darkest places. Impossible, wild forgiveness. Trust when all evidence screams against it.
We called to notify her mother. We called to tell her aunt. And then we called a pastor to arrange for his funeral. All afternoon we have received flowers and condolences. In a few days we will journey into the tiny jungle village where she grew up, where she was held captive…the place that she still calls home. I will walk beside her, hold her hand and cry with her. I will honor her father because she loves him. I will do it because she is right and I am wrong. There is no outer bound of grace.
And tomorrow, and next week, and next year when she, in the early dawn, recounts with trembling voice the nightmares that chased her through the night I will hold her yet again. We will cry and we will cling to the grace that is enough.