He shifted from one Converse clad foot to the other and waited patiently for the other students to clear out from the classroom.
I stood at my desk shuffling papers when I noticed that he remained.
“Hi James. What’s up?” I asked.
“Mrs. Lia, I just wanted to tell you that the testimony you read about Josh McDowell’s life made a big impact on me.” He spoke, softly.
I sat down in my swivel chair to listen.
“My dad left home a long time ago and he struggles with addictions too,” he explained. “But I want you to know that Mr. McDowell’s example of forgiving his father showed me that I needed to forgive my dad too. I reached out to him and we have started over again.”
My heart swelled.
As a high school English literature teacher, my goal reached far beyond explaining the motives of classic authors or the rigors of rhetorical strategy. I read Josh McDowell’s mind-blowing testimony to my students with the hope that his incredible ability to demonstrate love and forgiveness to the unlovely and unforgiving would inspire my students.
And apparently it had. Rightly so. I thanked James for confiding in me and I praised God for His relentless capacity for reconciling fragmented people. And James? Well, his father would die suddenly and unexpectedly not long after they had repaired their relationship.
It wasn’t too late for them to find hope when all seemed lost.
Forgiveness doesn’t merely heal the people directly involved in a conflict. It is a salve for those who stand in the wings waiting for the courage to do the same. I want to share Josh McDowell’s story of how he turned from passionate atheism and a goal to murder his own father and abuser, to becoming a radical Christ-follower. You can hear it from his own mouth:
If you need healing, this is for you.
If you are doubting, this is for you.
If you have someone to forgive, this is for you.
If you need courage, this is for you.
If you grew up with an alcoholic, or are one yourself, this is for you.
If you have been abused, this is for you.
If you are angry with God, this is for you.
If you are in a season of peace and gratitude, this is for you.
If you are overflowing with joy in the Lord, this is for you.
It’s a timeless message that I hope you will set aside the time to watch.
And may you, like James, take it to heart.