[This is me hanging out with my best friend, The Original Misfit himself, Mike. And this is one of our more typical conversations. Enjoy!]
[This is me hanging out with my best friend, The Original Misfit himself, Mike. And this is one of our more typical conversations. Enjoy!]
Ask me at my funeral.
“Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We are going to drown!’
“Jesus responded, ‘Why are you so afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.”
~Matthew 8:24-26 NLT
I get desperately exhausted every time I consider this passage. The miracle used to amaze me, but now something very different does: Jesus is sleeping.
He has been serving God so diligently and so determinedly — and so passionately to the point of exhaustion — that the fierce winds and cold rains and frigid waves do not even phase Him as He sleeps.
I am amazed at the enormously immense burdens He must have carried that led Him to such a profound point of exhaustion. When I consider my own cross, it makes my head spin.
But, I can’t sleep through the storms. I see the winds and feel the rains. And my heart jumps every time the freezing waves wash over me. I can taste the salt in my sleep.
I know to be still and know. And I know to trust His sovereignty. That it will all work out in the grand scheme. And in the end. Greater good, and all that. All that.
The God who makes all things possible has created, to my own small mind, the impossible. And mine is a life so impossible I do not want to know what I know. Not anymore I don’t.
And while I always can find someone to listen, I know of no one who can understand, who has been where I am. Difficult to do, actually, since I do not even know where I am.
And it is a place where all arguments are absurd, every insult stems from the sin of pride, opinions are the nemesis of truth, and knowledge is completely meaningless.
And yet, you want so much to find some way to tell them that you do care, but the only words you can find to explain your defeat are that you don’t. That you don’t care.
Ideals are the dreams of blind men. And I am just not a man consumed by the issues of the day. Nor am I the one to take up the cause of the moment. And I’ll tell you why.
And I still can’t sleep through the storms. Instead, I am the man of the sea terrified by what I see. And I just want to wake Him up, to calm the storm so I can rest.
[Author's note: This probably isn't going to make any sense.]
The validity of my fears have been realized. And I know, now, that I have been reading the next chapter of the words He has written for my life for quite some time now. I cannot see the sunrise through the storm, but, I will say — Everything else? That was practice. And I now fear God in ways my own imagination cannot possibly comprehend.
CONFESSIONS OF A FAILURE:
WHY I’LL NEVER BE PUBLISHED
“You should write a book.”
I have heard that more times than I can remember. At first, I took it as a compliment, and would even express my gratitude at the appreciation. After a while, though, it was old news.
It was a novel, of course, since Literature was my first love. It took me a month just to be satisfied with the first paragraph. I’d write fifty pages, throw them out, and start all over again. And then, I’d write seventy-five pages, throw all of them out, and begin again, peeling away certain sentences from hundreds of pages of dozens of drafts until I was somewhat satisfied. Eighteen months later, as I was about halfway done, I finally found the four words I needed to complete that first paragraph. It had taken me so long because I take writing so seriously, and, to this day, I still cringe in disgust — and horror — when I see people abuse the craft.
After the first draft of the novel was done, I sent out seventy-five query letters to literary agents who, I thought, would respect my craft. (In those days, query letters required stamps.) I got a handful of responses asking for a synopsis and the opening chapters, but none of those literary agents were interested enough to represent me. So I submitted my manuscript to a distinct university press that I knew would be interested.
If you know anything about publishing, you probably know that a university press does not usually publish fiction. So, of course, when this particular publisher expressed a serious interest in my work, I felt like I had struck gold. And this publisher pushed me to be a better writer, constructively criticizing even the most minute details of my work, from nominative pronouns used in the objective case to distinct descriptions of character appearance. I knew for certain that I would be published; it was only a matter of making minor revisions.
But, by this time, I needed a break. I had been writing and revising and editing for years. I would talk about it everywhere I went with anyone who would listen. And I would even test ideas for certain scenes and characters by telling excerpts as if they had actually happened, just to see if I would get the reaction I wanted. Writing became my life. I had even started a second novel. Teachers wanted me to speak at schools. Grad students would write papers about me. And professors wanted to use my novel to construct their courses around the significant themes of my work. Needless to say, some time off sounded like a good idea.
It was about this time I rededicated my life to God, but I was uncertain what He wanted me to do with my writing. It seemed selfish, to me at least, to use a gift He had so freely given to make money. This is a personal point of view, not a general criticism; I had simply learned enough about the absurd celebrity culture in America to be suspicious of fame and fortune, much like a lottery winner becomes suspicious of his friends. Because I had questions, I asked God for answers.
One afternoon, I grabbed my manuscript, went to my bedroom, and closed the door. Setting my novel upon the mattress, I knelt at my bedside and prayed.
In that moment, I had surrendered my novel, my dream, to God; I had freely given to my Father the gift He had freely given me.
Over the next few months, I would work on the final revision every so often, but as I began to seek God more and more, I would spent less and less time on it.
And then, my life changed forever when my friend committed suicide. She had been one of the first people to read the first draft of my manuscript. She loved it, too, and was very excited about my manuscript getting accepted by the same university she had herself planned to attend. But, when I realized she was gone –
I had been so focused upon my dream finally becoming a reality, I lost sight of the vision that had led me to it in the first place.
So, I gave up on finishing that final revision. The price of my dream was not worth the cost; she’ll never read it now. I wrote that book to help people like her; I’d had a mission, a calling, a purpose — or so I’d thought — but, it’s too late now. I failed. I have no place in the world, no purpose. Because, in the course of my travels, I realized that when people write about their own tragedies, they write about enduring the trauma; nobody can tell you, with satisfaction, how to handle the emptiness that lingers on years later in your own defeat. So, I am a man out of words.
I tell myself, every so often, that I’ll get to it one day, but I know that’s just an excuse. Every once in a while, though, my heart and mind return to the world I created in those pages. The characters now are like best friends with whom I’ve long since lost touch. But, when I wonder how they’re doing or what they’re up to these days, I realize I’m the only one who always knows.
A part of me is sad to know those characters will follow me to grave, and that they will stay there (unless, of course, somebody finds the drafts). But, I’m a recluse now, living an invisible life on the internet, a man both known and unknown. And the extent of my fame, if you can even call it that, seems only to rest within the predictable arguments of those who would make irremediable issues of serious problems.
Perhaps someday, someone or something, somewhere will awaken my long lost love for that story. And those characters. But, I am content in my travels, awaiting the day I can find a quiet corner in North America, settle down, and stay out of history’s way.
A SOLDIER’S SUNRISE
I am twenty-two years old. I have a wife and little girl. And we are expecting our second child this summer.
When I was seventeen years old, my father signed my authorization papers to enlist in The United States Army. After Basic, I went through AIT and Airborne School. As a Corporal, I received special permission to proceed onto Ranger Select School, which usually requires the rank of Sergeant. In February of 2010, I was deployed to Afghanistan.
On 23 April 2010, I met a boy named Sayid. He was eleven years old. And he had lost the ability to express his emotions because his mother and father had been killed.
He saw it happen.
This precious little boy had seen his own parents stabbed to death. Sayid, fortunately, had been hiding when it happened — but it seemed he would bear the burden of the brutal act for the rest of his life.
Sayid never smiled. He never giggled. And he never laughed.
Although he would play with the other kids, if Sayid got hurt he never showed any pain.
He was completely void of emotions.
During my personal time, I would watch movies with Sayid and tell him stories.
I would buy food, clothes, and toys for Sayid. He would thank me each time for everything — but, always, he had a blank look on his face.
I wanted Sayid to smile again. I wanted him to laugh again. To feel again.
To live. Again.
On 17 December 2010, Sayid’s brother told me about a pendant, which his mother had worn at all times — like a uniform.
If she left it on the table, Sayid would run and get it for her. He would dutifully bring it to his mother. To Sayid, the pendant was a part of his mother — as much as her own hair.
There was no question what I had to do.
I made the trek, twenty-five miles from base, to the house where Sayid’s parents had been killed.
I searched all the rooms, all the doors, all the cupboards. And I spent four hours and forty-five minutes going through piles of rubble and debris.
Finally, I found it.
It was like seeing a Christmas tree for the first time when I was a kid. And I felt like God was giving me the help I needed to help Sayid.
I headed back to base. And the first thing I did was wrap the pendant in Christmas paper. Then I got my laptop and played his favorite song.
When I found Sayid, I have his present.
He opened it up.
And when he saw the pendant, he stared at it for the longest time.
He ran up and hugged me.
Then, he cried. Tears of joy.
And, over and over, he kept saying,
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
He put the pendant on — and he had the biggest smile on his face.
It was the first time I had seen Sayid smile in the eight months I had known him.
From that day forward, he would smile, he would laugh, he would giggle — he would even get upset.
Because, to him, his mother was always with him now — wrapped around his neck in that pendant.
He was alive. Again.
That is an experience I’ll never forget.
And I’ll never forget Sayid.
I know Sayid will never forget me.
I spent my childhood in Preston, Connecticut. It is a small town — like Newtown — with a picturesque landscape that looks like a Christmas card come to life.
I went to school in Poquetanuck Village, where my teachers made sure I knew I was loved. And I spent my summers swinging on ropes and climbing trees and eating fresh strawberries from the backyard patch.
On Saturdays, my father would work in the garden. He would grow all those icky vegetables I never wanted to eat. But soon, he had to build a fence around the garden ’cause some animals were eating our food.
When he discovered that the animals were digging under the fence to get our food, my father decided he’d had enough. One night, he put his coat on, got his rifle, and was going to go outside to shoot the animals eating our food.
But, when his little girl realized that he was going to kill the animals, she cried. She cried so hard. She begged him not to kill the animals. And my father, holding his precious little girl as she cried in his arms, listened to his child.
My father never did go outside that night. And it wasn’t too long afterwards that he got rid of his rifles.
My father chose the heart of his child over his right to bear arms.
Being a father was more important to him than being a man.
Today, America — on Christmas Eve — our children are crying. They are wailing in agony and with anguish. They are screaming and begging and pleading for us to choose their innocence over our arrogance.
And today, we stand at the threshold of history. The world we thought we knew, and the one we had hoped to leave to our children, is gone forever.
Because The Newtown Massacre left twenty children dead.
And six adults.
There is no going back. And I have no doubt that future generations will look back upon our actions today and see these crucial hours as the ones that will have shaped their world and defined their destiny.
Our decisions in the midst of this tragic midnight will bless, or curse, our grandchildren. They will see our faith and our courage or our fear and our cowardice. They will see us as the ones who demanded a sincere, rational set of well-regulated laws or an insane, obscene reaction that hopelessly passed our horrific sins onto our children and grandchildren.
We will be the ones who accepted responsibility for the pathetic, violent gun culture we created that killed those twenty precious kids or we will be the ones who denied our sins and always blamed somebody else for the horrors we have created.
We will be the ones who stood in unity to protect our children or we will be the ones who betrayed their future to our fears. And we will be the ones who supported The Second Amendment or we will be the ones who backed The NRA.
Because for far, far too long, The NRA has claimed an exclusive interpretation of The Second Amendment. They boast four million members, but three hundred and forty-six million Americans have a different interpretation.
And that one percent of the population will no longer dictate how the other ninety-nine percent of us live or think. Because we are not naive enough to think that guns, more guns, and even more guns — and putting guns in our schools — will solve the gun problem.
The debate is over. And the conversation has ended. The only question left concerning gun control is, How quickly and effectively can it be done?
We have seen the horrors of our sins, our very own culture of violence, visited upon our precious children. And this is a knowledge we cannot lose.
From this moment forward, every citizen of The United States bears the burden of, and shares the responsibility for, the massacres that take place on our soil.
Because we know. We know, and we have seen, our own evil. We must act, and responsibly so, in these most crucial hours. Our children, our only future, depend upon us to do it right and to get it done.
The Newtown Massacre proved it: America must, like my father, chose our children over our right to bear arms. We must put their innocence before our arrogance. No decent, loving parent would dare to disagree.
LOVE RESCUE ME
by U2 & Bob Dylan
Love rescue me
Come forth and speak to me
Raise me up and don’t let me fall
No man is my enemy
My own hands imprison me
Love rescue me
Many strangers have I met
On the road to my regret
Many lost who seek to find themselves in me
They ask me to reveal
The very thoughts they would conceal
Love rescue me
And the sun in the sky
Makes a shadow of you and I
Stretching out as the sun sinks in the sea
I’m here without a name
In the palace of my shame
Said, love rescue me
In the cold mirror of a glass
I see my reflection pass
See the dark shades of what I used to be
See the purple of her eyes
The scarlet of my lies
Love rescue me
Yeah, though I walk
In the valley of shadow
Yeah, I will fear no evil
I have cursed thy rod and staff
They no longer comfort me
Love rescue me
Sha la la…sha la la la
Sha la la la…ha la la…
Sha la la la…sha la la la
Sha la la la…sha la la
Sha la la la…sha la la la
Sha la la…
I said love, love rescue me
I said love
Climb up the mountains, said love
I said love, oh my love
On the hill of the son
I’m on the eve of a storm
And My Word you must believe in
Oh, I said love, rescue me
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah
Yeah I’m here without a name
In the palace of my shame
I said love rescue me
I’ve conquered my past
The future is here at last
I stand at the entrance
To a new world I can see
The ruins to the right of me
Will soon have lost sight of me
Love rescue me
We need to tell the Stories that we think cannot be forgiven.
Because we need to know we can be forgiven.
If the pen becomes a relic of the past,
I do not want the future.
This is the sad, terrible (storm) story of a young girl named Amanda Todd, who committed suicide on 10 October 2012 after years of being tormented her peers.
“Every heart has got a story.
Listen for the ones nobody wants to hear.”
“IN THAT DAY the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all.”
In the spring of 1992, I received a summons to appear. Since it was from an out-of-state county court, I quite naturally had no idea as to what I may have done that would warrant my being summoned. Confused, and certainly not wanting to answer for a crime I did not commit, I spoke with a friend of mine, who soon referred me to a lawyer.
He suggested that I contact the officer who had issued the citation as well as the prosecuting attorney to find out what the charges were against me and where and when the incident took place. The police department told me about the initial charge, but the prosecutor revealed an additional charge and filled in the rest of the details. Once I found out where and when the incident took place, I told the prosecuting attorney that I could not have possibly committed the offense.
On the night in question, I had a class at The Community College of Rhode Island. I had to sign my name and write my student identification number on the teacher’s roster. It would have been physically impossible for me to be committing a crime in another state, especially since I could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I had been attending a class in Rhode Island. So the prosecutor dropped all charges.
Interestingly enough, the friend to whom I refer was a distinguished gentleman by the name of Charles Russell — who happened to be a homosexual. I called him Charlie. He was my friend. And it was just about six months later he was brutally murdered; I had actually been at his house just a few days before it had happened.
It took me ten years to reconcile my faith in a loving God with such an atrocious tragedy. I made a great many questionable decisions and poor choices during that time as well. My academic career soon digressed from honors to probation to dropout. And in the past twenty years, I have seen so much more foolishness in this world than I would have dared thought possible.
Recently, there has been a foolish debate raging between those who demand homosexuality is a sin and those who insist homosexuality is not a sin. Those on one side have actually taken to support a certain company in the fast food industry that serves chicken, simply because somebody who works for that company has said something about the matter. Those on the other side have, of course, responded with a boycott of that company, voicing also their own support of their own perspective.
Both sides claim god is on their side. Both sides shout for justice, but instead exponentially escalate their own hatred. Both sides spew their own version of truth, having been choked by the noose of false gospels. Both sides ooze in their own manufactured controversy of counterfeit love, like a drug addict getting his fix — with one exception: most of the addicts I have known know they have a problem. But, absurdly enough, both sides are so fanatical each side remains convinced the other side is the problem.
It is hideous. For such a foolish debate ultimately amounts to nothing more than a mega-media circus. It is, quite honestly, like watching the angel roll the stone aside to reveal The Empty Tomb only to have Mary Magdalene and the other Mary ask, “So do we eat chicken or support gay marriage?”
It is absurd. And I am convinced that the people who are so enamored and so enraged about such foolish matters are only concerned with this world, and know nothing of the next.
On the far end of one side stands Fred Phelps, who spreads a false gospel with a sick message of hate. On the far end of the other side stands John Shore, who spreads a false gospel under the guise of love. Fred Phelps has a knack for enraging righteous indignation, but John Shore has a talent for tickling itching ears.
Fred Phelps publicly demands that homosexuals cannot be redeemed because his false god hates them, but John Shore openly insists that homosexuality is not a sin so, of course, the homosexual has no need to be redeemed. If Fred Phelps does not understand the sacrificial love of Good Friday, perhaps John Shore has yet to comprehend the power of Easter Sunday.
The false gospel of Fred Phelps demands that the sin of homosexuality is greater than of the love of God revealed at The Cross, where, in truth, Christ sacrificed His life as a ransom for sinners. But since John Shore insists that homosexuality is not a sin then Christ has died for nothing. So while the messages of both men appear to be drastically different, each of these false gospels ultimately serves the same purpose: to undermine The Good News that Christ gave His life for sinners and was raised on the third day.
But if god hates homosexuals then homosexuals cannot be redeemed, so there is no need for Christ. But if homosexuality is not a sin then there is no need for redemption, so there is no need for Christ. Different methods; same message. As I have said before, “Whether you call it heads or tails, a quarter is still just twenty-give cents.”
And so it seems that both Fred Phelps and John Shore have forgotten that The Gospel is only Good News to bad people (assuming either man has ever understood this).
Of course, these words will no doubt be used, and misused, to fuel the fires of these foolish controversies. I knew this over six years ago when I lost my friend, Britany, to suicide — and that is precisely why I never mentioned her struggles with sexuality. She had been sexually abused as a child and the experience was so traumatic for her young mind that she developed multiple personalities and, of course, struggled with her own sexual identity later in life. But was Britany a homosexual or was it one of her alternate personalities? I never will know.
But I did know that a fool like Fred Phelps would maul her memory and a charlatan like John shore would exploit my grief to spread their own false gospels.
And that is exactly what has happened.
Almost everybody knows about Fred Phelps and his false gospel, but John Shore lives to tickle itching ears. In September of 2011, a teenager named Jamey Rodemeyer, who had been tormented by his peers because he was a homosexual, committed suicide. No sooner had the news broke that John Shore seized the incident to spread his false gospel. John Shore claimed that every Christian who believes homosexuality is a sin had Jamey Rodemeyer’s blood on their hands.
This, apparently, is the gospel according to John Shore: it is only a sin to believe a sin is a sin. But, if there is no sin, then Christ had no reason to sacrifice His life. And if Christ had no reason to sacrifice His life, He certainly had no reason to rise from the grave. And if Christ has not risen from the grave, then a man like me is to be pitied above all men because if the false gospel of John Shore is true, I have no hope.
I know this because I am a sinner who sins. See for yourself. Have I not taken the plank out of my own eye? And while I have been a Christian for twenty-five years, I am just beginning to understand the power of The Resurrection, which is greater than death — and, therefore, greater than the pain and anguish and despair of losing a loved one to suicide. And I suppose I know one or two or three things about that. Maybe even four things. So if Christ has defeated Death, has He not also conquered our sins? All of our sins?
But if what John Shore has said is true, then Britany‘s blood is also on my hands. Based upon the foolish reasoning of the false gospel of John Shore, I am as culpable in her suicide as I am in Jamey Rodmeyer’s suicide. And to think I felt badly for not returning her last phone call. It certainly is nice to know I’ve had it all wrong all this time. What the hell. Maybe the next time I’m on the floor crying and screaming like a wild, wounded animal, I’ll send John Shore a fucking thank you note for kicking me with his false gospel while I’m down.
John Shore wrote about Jamey Rodemeyer a year ago, but that sick, twisted charlatan made me so crazy and so furious it took me this long to calm down. The man boasts of “trying god’s patience since 1958″ so, of course, it’s no surprise he would exhaust mine. Like those he claims to oppose, John Shore obviously does not care who he hurts along the way. It took years for me to come to terms with the circumstances that led Britany to take her life, but John Shore tore all of that down in a single day.
According to the false gospel of Fred Phelps, I am going burn in Hell for helping the sick. But according to the false gospel of John Shore, I am going to burn in Hell for being culpable in Britany‘s suicide — and complicit in Charlie‘s murder. These two friends I have loved, and grieved, in ways light years beyond the understanding of such small men.
And, as it is written, “Love does no harm.” But John Shore damn near succeeded in doing to me what Jamey Rodemeyer’s tormenters did to him. It was that fucking bad. Do you really think I waited a year because I am a patient man? No, I am not a patient man. So the false gospel of John Shore is not good news at all. Not to anyone. He is actually just as dangerous as the very people he claims to oppose — if not more so.
Such bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than the blatant lies of Fred Phelps. Because only bullshit blends the lies with the truth to tickle itching ears. It is as convincing as it is conniving — and that is precisely why its followers get so enraged. The false gospel of John Shore appeals to our sense of compassion, but replaces it with a desire for vengeance against injustice. It draws upon our hunger and thirst for righteousness, but, out of this conviction, condemns without conscience — and without the inclusive mercy of The Cross.
So what side do I choose? And where do I stand on the issues of the day? I stand apart. Because I have been through the fire before. I have endured a dark and stormy night. And I have been parched by a drought. I have tasted the salt of the earth. I have been any port in a storm. And I have prayed broken prayers and borne a broken Christmas. And I have seen the ashes of Christmas. I know dawn changes everything. I have also learned what to do when when lighting strikes — twice. And I know when the mountain goats give birth. I am awake.
But after Charlie was murdered twenty years ago, the pit of despair into which I had fallen seemed to have no end. As I have said, I could not reconcile my faith in a loving God with such an atrocious tragedy. Little did I know it would be but the first step of a monstrous marathon that would test my faith every step of the way over the next twenty years. But the turning point came one winter afternoon, so very long ago, when I shut the shades, closed the doors, and, going into my bedroom, I got down on one knee. And I prayed for the man who murdered my friend. He was still in prison at the time, but I asked God to help him.
As it turned out, he would only serve twelve years of his twenty-year sentence. And today, Bruce Reilly is an advocate and a leader for prisoner and human rights, fighting against the prison industrial complex. And he fought for four years to get his right to vote reinstated in Rhode Island, only to lose it after moving to Louisiana to attend Tulane University Law School.
Yes, he is in law school.
I also asked God to bless him. He now has a daughter, whom I believe to be a gift from God Himself. And, by faith, I asked God to let Bruce Reilly know the truth of The Gospel (which, assuming Bruce Reilly ever reads this, I will have just done).
And so it would seem God has answered my prayers. And yet, I do find it ironic that the man who took my friend’s life would spend his life helping others in the same way my friend had once helped me. In literary terms, Professor Russell would call this “the execution of a given.” But perhaps, in the divine novel of eternity, this entire story may yet make for a strong sentence.
It was also Charlie who had first taught me that “forgiveness is a releasing.” And he would emphasize this point several times. Charlie meant, of course, that forgiveness liberates us from the prison of our pain and anguish and grief — and, most importantly, from our desire for revenge. Although I must admit I do find it ironic, and perhaps divinely so, that the man who had taught me the most necessary truth about forgiveness would be the same man whose tragic passing would force me to live that very lesson.
And it is precisely this lesson that Fred Phelps and John Shore cannot possibly understand. While it is Fred Phelps who demands homosexuals and their friends are condemned, John Shore insists that only those who believe a sin is a sin are condemned. For according to Fred Phelps, I am going to Hell for being friends with Charlie and Britany; but, according to John Shore, I am going to burn in Hell for being culpable Charlie’s death and Britany’s suicide. What fools these mortals be!
As it is written, “the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion.” Was God speaking only of the predators and the prey of the animal kingdom? Will not “a little child lead them all”? Indeed, redemption is available for both predator and prey. And salvation is available to a sinner like Charlie as much as it is to a sinner like Bruce.
As is it written, “God does not show favoritism.” But if I, like Fred Phelps and John Shore, place my perspective before this truth — however noble I believe my intentions to be — then I have created a false god and a false gospel. And that I will not do. Unlike Fred Phelps and John Shore, I am certain that Bruce Reilly knows what he has done wrong. But I rejoice that Bruce Reilly wants to help others in the same way Charlie had once helped me, a conviction I do not quite think Mr. Reilly would have today had he not admitted with acceptance what he has done.
I have, of course, read some of the criticisms Bruce Reilly has received since getting accepted into law school. I know some people fear him and some people love him. And I know some people will oppose his efforts to, for example, restore voting rights for convicted felons. But, I also know that most of these people never knew Charles Russell. I did. I knew him. I knew Charlie. And I know they don’t know — they don’t know — the impact Bruce Reilly has had upon my life because of what he has done.
I do not speak of this from a place of theories or ideas, but experience. Charlie was my friend. And Bruce Reilly took his life. But, and I do say this by faith with the conviction of my experience, I believe Bruce Reilly deserves a second chance. He apparently has one with his acceptance to law school, and I certainly hope he makes the most of it. He cannot undo what he has done; only God can forgive his sin and only the state can govern his crime. But, after twenty years of trying to make sense of something that has never made sense to me, I’m pretty sure I have forgiven Bruce Reilly. And I still do pray for him — and for his family.
And I sincerely hope, by the very grace of God Himself, that when He does call me to my eternal Home, I might yet have a seat in that day between Charles Russell and Bruce Reilly. For there is a Place where no predator will hunt for prey, and no victim will fear violator.
That is the sacrificial love of Good Friday. And the power of Easter Sunday.
And that is the hope of The Gospel.
For lions and lambs.
”He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”