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INFLUENCED BY GODLY SORROW

Lilly’s coma lasted days, then weeks, and then months.

Lilly was twenty-one, beautiful and full of life. And she was smart. She had been attending our church for about a year when I had the chance to talk with her and find out more about the dreams she had for her life. She loved the Lord and had an exciting plan for her future. She was attending an area college and looked forward to a career, a husband, and all that life had to offer. Until one day.

On her way home from work one night, Lilly was T-boned in an intersection by a pickup driven by a drunk driver. The young man might have fled the scene if his truck hadn’t been damaged so severely that it wouldn’t move. He was arrested, and taken to jail; while Lilly was rushed to the nearest emergency facility.

We received a call and our church began to pray immediately for Lilly. She had an extreme head injury, and was not expected to live. She was unconscious and entered into a coma quickly after she was admitted into the hospital. There was the fear that if she did survive she would have very little, if any, brain activity and have to be on life support.

Her coma lasted days, then weeks, and then months. Finally after three and a half months, Lilly woke up. However, she didn’t wake up twenty-one years old.

The doctor said, “Her body is twenty-one, but her mind is eight. And unless a miracle happens, her mental state will never reach beyond that age.”

I was personally grieved when I talked to Lilly. It was so hard to fathom what this split second tragedy had done to a life so alive and so capable.

Over the years however, Lilly began to improve. There was healing that was at work in her brain that all of us gave God glory for.

However, the biggest miracle was yet to come.

It seems that the young man that crashed his truck into Lilly’s was so filled with remorse he had a difficult time living with himself. He wasn’t in prison long before he surrendered his life to Christ. He served the Lord in prison for a few years and was released.

One day I received a call from this man’s lawyer. His attorney wanted to know if I would approach Lilly’s family to see if they would be open to have a meeting with his client, his client’s family and Lilly’s family. The young man wanted to apologize and seek their forgiveness.

Three years after Lilly’s accident, I was the facilitator/mediator of a meeting between Lilly’s family (who were also Christians) and the young man who took her potential from her, along with his family. It was one of the most moving and remarkable experiences I have ever encountered.

I listened as this young man, obviously broken and filled with remorse for what he had done, wept out a confession to Lilly and her family. He cried as he told them that he had surrendered his life to Christ, and under the direction of Jesus, he was compelled to apologize and ask for forgiveness for the horrible tragedy he caused.

He sobbed as he told them that he would understand if they wouldn’t grant forgiveness, but would always be grateful that they had given him the opportunity to let them know about the sorrow he had felt ever since the accident. I gazed in amazement as tears flooded the eyes of everyone in the room and as guarded, hurting looks became tender.

In the end, I watched everyone in the room embrace one another as they wept tears influenced by godly sorrow and Christian love. And I watched forgiveness fill the air like a sweet smelling fragrance. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever beheld in the ministry. It is my experience that only in Christ can events like this occur.

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

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