What a powerful message delivered today by the mother of one of the victims. I watched in amazement as she faced the man that she at one time respected and admired, and looked to for spiritual leadership – the same man that has been responsible for the pain, violation and destruction within her family and specifically to her daughter.
You would think that her message to him would be of anger and possibly asking “how could you?” Instead, she showed a true testimony to the world of what we are taught Biblically to do, to love our enemies and those that persecute us. I am blessed just to have been there to see this exchange, to see grace and mercy extended in the midst of much pain. Here are some of her words:
She began her message with one simple truth; the Bible tells us that If we are to confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. However she pointed out one of the most overlooked points of that verse – IF – She proceeded to remind Darrell Gilyard that confessing sins, admitting failure, is exactly what prisoners of pride refuse to do.
And then Phil. 3:14 states “I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me.” She reads this to him and then asks, “Is this what God called you to do as you reached for the goal? God began a good work in you and I am sure He will complete it until it is finished according to Philippians 1:6”
At this point in the courtroom, it was silent, everyone was listening. I looked at Judge Weatherby and he was leaning forward a bit with his chin resting on his hand, listening. Hank Coxe had to have felt uncomfortable, he kept glancing over at her and then to Darrell. Darrell was still, head down, hands clasped behind his back. A surreal moment as this former parishioner is preaching to her former Pastor.
She goes on to tell him that “God uses Satan to fortify His church, even when Satan appears to win, ‘Darrell’, he loses.” And that “Confession does not create a relationship with God, it nourishes it.” She tells him that though he did not lose his position with God, he has lost his peace with God.
Isn’t that so true? God never stops loving us, but we feel a loss because we are separated due to our lack of repentance of sin.
Darrell was certainly an incredible speaker and knew God’s word, how odd and uncomfortable it had to be for him to hear this. She reminds him that he, as the Shepard abused her daughter inside of the Shepard’s office. Among other things she also reminds him that lives have been destroyed and that he will have to give an account for this.
Her final message is so amazing it is God talking through a wounded person right in the midst of tragedy…she says “Just know God loves us and wants the best for us. I will pray for you as always that at some point you get right with God. You are forgiven by me. I have no malice in my heart as we all have sinned and woe is the man or woman that does not confess and turn from their wicked ways.”
Hallelujah! Praise be to Jesus! To Him is all of the glory and honor and praise! Ministering to the man that hurt her daughter, the same man that was supposed to minister to her.
A dear friend called me tonight to pray with me, she was also abused at the hands of a minister as a young girl. We have talked and shared our stories before and one thing we are both aware of and thankful for is our stories. We have shared before that our stories have made us who we are today. They are testimonies of God’s power, His love, His grace and His mercy. He has taught us so much about forgiveness and trust, though by worldly standards we should be bitter, unforgiving and unable to trust. It is the contrary; God has allowed great strength, trust and healing to come from tragedy and heartache.
On this note, as we were talking she shared this thought with me and it touched me deeply and I feel is so appropriate to end on. I said in an interview today that it is time to lay down the label of “victim” and replace it with “overcomer”, I want you to know that you do not have to let his crimes against you define who you are, but it can define Who God is.
My sweet friend shared that out of the dark places in our lives, He will help us to sift through and “mine” through the rubble and discover riches that we wouldn’t have otherwise. No matter how devastating the storm, the aftermath can look so bleak and you are tempted to carry around this “victim” armor, lay it down and dig for the treasures that God will bring from it. They are there, waiting to be discovered.