Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan’s NIV Bible for Women and writes at LaurieCoombs.org. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their three daughters.
"It's time to forgive," I heard God gently whisper. "And it's time to love your enemy."
How is it possible to love and forgive the man who murdered my dad? I thought.
How do you forgive the unforgivable?
How do you love the unlovable?
I spent most of the night in prayer, asking Jesus for grace. I desperately needed His grace to trust and follow His lead. And I needed faith, but not any kind of faith. What I needed was the kind of faith that allows you to step out of the boat and walk on water toward Jesus when He beacons, knowing that I can do all things through Him. The kind of faith that confidently says to Jesus, “only say a word, and I shall be healed,” knowing full well that all things are possible with God. The kind of faith to follow Jesus into the unknown––into my scary places––regardless of the cost, knowing that He would work all things for good. So I prayed.
And then thought to myself, What is Jesus asking me to do anyway? Truly, He was simply asking me to give what I had already received. It was then I began to see that, prior to coming to faith in Jesus, I was an enemy of God. Yet, while I was still far from God, He loved me, He pursued me, and He died for me––even in my rebellion.
I saw that Jesus’ death brought me life. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” You see, Jesus needed to die, so we could be forgiven. The penalty of sin is death. And it was Jesus who paid the cost. It was His love for us that led Him to that cross!
I realized at that point that it is only because of Jesus’ death that forgiveness is possible. I have been forgiven, just as each and every follower of Christ has been. First Corinthians 7:23 says, “you were bought with a price.” The cost of my forgiveness was high. And I thought to myself, Who am I to withhold forgiveness and love from my enemy when forgiveness has been so graciously given to me? I think C.S. Lewis said it well when he said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
I looked to Jesus––dying on the cross––hands and feet pierced only moments before, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) and was amazed by Jesus’ ability to forgive those who were in the process of murdering Him.
It is this example we must all follow. This is our motivation to forgive. For apart from Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, none would be saved. But because He chose to lay down His life, taking on the sins of the world, we have the power within us to forgive as He does.
And once again, who are we to withhold forgiveness when it has been so graciously given to us?
Be sure to visit Laurie's blog, LaurieCoombs.org, to read more about her journey and the redemption she's experienced!