On the way home drunk from a bar, Mike Russelmane swerved unto oncoming traffic and hit two girls driving home from college to surprise their parents. The girls’ car immediately caught fire, killing them both. Within seconds smoke was seen escaping the hood of Mike’s car. By chance an off duty fire fighter who had heard the collision rushed to the smoking car. Mike was knocked unconscious. The fire fighter by chance was able to open the passenger door. By then paramedics had arrived. Just as he was pulling Mike from the car, the car caught fire and within seconds exploded, throwing both of them feet away. Mike suffered some a concussion along with minor injuries, while the fireman unfortunately hit his head on the curve, putting him into a coma. It was later discovered that one of the girls who died in the accident was the fireman’s only daughter. She was riding in her friends’ car.
A year had passed by, The fireman recovered from his coma, but with impaired speech, and a limp. Though time had passed, the trauma and pain from the accident seemed as if it had happened yesterday. The fireman wanting to come to terms with the accident decided he wanted to meet Mike. Mike was frightened when he heard that the fireman wanted to meet him. Why would the fireman want to see him? How could this help anything? Mike debated the idea in his head. The shame and guilt from that accident only increased after the incident. During that time, Mike had attempted suicide twice but failed. It was no longer safe for him to live alone, so his Mother convinced him to move back in with her. It was his mom that convinced Mike to meet the fireman. So Mike finally yielded, and met the fireman at his house.
Though only thirty minutes away by bus, the trip to the fireman’s house seemed like eternity. When Mike arrived on the fireman’s street, he saw the fireman standing at the door with a cane. He recognized his face, the same one that the local news showed photographs when they did the special report after the accident. Mike slowly walked forward, with each step his heart beat louder. As Mike stepped on the steps leading to the fireman’s house the fireman started to weep. Mike seeing the fireman crying, immediately regretted his decision. His mind told him to turn around and leave but his head betrayed his thoughts, and just as his shoulders were turning, the fireman grabbed his shoulder and told him to wait. He had something to tell him.
The fireman told Mike that the coma erased his memory of the accident, but when he gained consciousness he was told what happened. The fireman has told the story of how he dealt with doubts, anger, rage but his wife calmed him. His wife became a christian and told him of the story of God. How God had a son, who was killed because of murderers, drunkards, liars, and unbelievers. “I killed God’s son”, the fireman told Mike his voice choked up… “and you know what he forgave me. And if this God can forgive me, I can forgive you. Its not easy, I’ve thought of what I would do to you when I saw you, and it all involved causing you as much pain and suffering as I could put on you. But after my wife told me this story about God, I couldn’t get as angry any more, and something strange happened. I began to feel compassion. I thought about how much you were probably suffering from grief. I also thought of how I felt when I realized that my sins brought the son of God to die. The big difference between my daughter and God’s son, is that God’s son knew he was going to die, and was willing to do it for me, and for you too.”
Mike was floored. This was definitely not what he was expecting. God was a nebulous idea to him. A faint echo of paintings, cathedrals, and religious fanatics comprised his thoughts about God. The idea of God having a son, of this firemen killing God’s son, and that he was not only guilty of killing the fireman’s daughter but the son of God seemed shocking, and offensive. Yet at the same time, he saw himself as a murderer, and knew that he had been an offensive person. His friends told him, his girlfriends and flings would agree. He was in need of something deeper and stronger than his addiction. For the first time in his life Mike contemplated the concept that he might have had a deeper addiction than alcohol; an addiction to sin, and the consequences were much more deadly.
In the strangest, and unlikeliest of events, the fireman and his wife invited the drunk murderer of their daughter to church. For Mike this was all too much, too soon. His eyes reddened with tears, His face flustered, he replied, “I don’t know, I don’t know, I’m so sorry, so sorry. Excuse me, I have to go. I’m so sorry.” And so Mike left, not knowing where he was going, his feet never seemed so heavy. The burden he had seemed to intensify. He felt as he would pass out at any minute. He needed to sit down. He found a bus stop, and hurled himself down. He cried, and cried, and cried, until the tears ran dry. Mike was in another world. He did not notice the buses that unloaded and loaded passengers, nor the stares, or the voices asking are you okay? He kept picturing the fireman’s daughter with her friend in a burning car, with his own voice commenting in the background ‘I’m a murderer’.That image was immediately followed by the fireman’s voice saying “If God can forgive me, I can forgive you.” Mike spent hours on that bench. When he finally awoke, he found in his lap a little pamphlet.
He opened it up and began to read it. It was about a former murderer who turned his life around and became a preacher. Here’s an excerpt from it:
We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
(1 Timothy 1:9-15)
Jesus came for sinners, won’t you give your life to him today?
As Mike read those words, it felt as if something was speaking to his soul. The words he read, seemed so loud and yet so peaceful. All the noise, the memories, the groaning, faded into a buzz. “Jesus came for me”, he thought. He didn’t know what it meant to give his life to God, but he did know that his life needed to be saved. So with that he said this prayer, ” God if you are real, if this Jesus is real, Save me.”
Mike doesn’t remember how he got home, or what he ate that night, but if you ask him what happened to him that night, he will tell you. “God saved me, right there on that bus stop.”
There are billions of Mike’s around the world who have come to understand that their lives needed to be saved. You don’t have to be a drunk, or a murderer to come to God. We have all sinned against a holy God and not only have we sinned, but we sin continually and joyfully. We sin so much that we don’t even call our sins, “sins”. We call them pleasures, and if anyone are to call us out, we would say they are just being self righteous. Despite our proclivity, God in his mercy offers forgiveness. If you happen to be reading this I pray that you don’t see this as a novice’s attempt at writing, but a plea from God to come to him, to get your life in order. Maybe you have some resentment to God because of something that happened to you in the past. Don’t let that anger keep you from God. There’s a freedom in forgiveness, in letting go. I can’t explain why God allows bad things to happen, but I do know that God promises for those who seek him and are chosen by him he can make even the bad things work for their good. God knows what it is to suffer loss, he knows it because his very son was taken from him. Let him take your pain and hurt away. Let him heal your heart. My prayers are for you and your family.