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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Father forgive them

This past week my heart was warmed and saddened at the same time by a story in the Miami Herald about a man who had been set free after being incarcerated for twenty four years for a crime he didn’t commit. Crotzer is not the first, and hopefully would not be the last. Technology, via DNA testing, has made it possible for someone’s innocence or guilt to be proven years after a crime was committed. So today Crotzer and many others are free as a result of this, as well as the untiring efforts of their defense lawyers and the New York-based Innocence Project.

Many people rejoice at this turn of events, but for Crotzer and others like him who lost a big chunk of their lives, the road to true freedom is littered with obstacles. Diaz, a man freed after twenty six years, hardly ever leaves his house. His wife remarried, and he now lives with his daughter and her family. Crotzer, on the other hand, would like to find a job. But what skills does he have to live and work in the twenty first century? When he was released he had to be taught how to use a cell phone and how to swipe a card to open a hotel door, according to the Herald. A lot has taken place in twenty-four years.

However, two things struck me most about this story. The first is that Crotzer said he had no bitterness against anyone for robbing him of twenty-four years of his life. To suffer what he suffered and not be bitter is almost unbelievable. It’s almost like Jesus asking God to forgive the Roman soldiers for crucifying Him. How many of us could be like that? I don’t know if I could.

The other thing that struck me is that Crotzer’s mother passed away four years prior to his release. Crotzer said that is the one thing he regretted. And I believe that mother must have been praying all the while she waited for something to happen. Never underestimate the power of prayer. You might not live to see the answer, but the answer will come if you persist in prayer.

So let us send up a prayer of thanksgiving for Crotzer and the others, let us pray for the defense lawyers and the Innocence Project. Most of all, let us pray that the deadline, set for July of this year in Florida, for cases to be retried based on DNA evidence will be removed completely so that more innocent victims could be set free.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Happy New Year!

Jan 8, 2006

Believe me, this is not what I planned for my first blog for 2006. I wanted to open with something upbeat like goal-planning or New Year’s resolutions, instead I find myself writing about death. The son of one of my co-workers died by accident the day before New Year’s Eve, and it put a damper on my spirits as well as the rest of the staff who worked with her.

Even though I never knew him, his passing filled me with such sadness that I had to force myself to get over it. He was only eighteen, cut off in a horrible way while not yet in his prime. As we attended the viewing, my heart broke at the sight of the lonely casket standing at the head of the aisle, unopened, while my friend courageously greeted friends and acquaintances. I couldn’t say anything to her. No words, however eloquent, would be adequate. I conveyed my feelings with a deep hug, and left as soon as I could.

And yet death is a daily occurrence. Someone said in the midst of life there is death. We heard of the death of the coal miners in Virginia, the death of the soldiers in Iraq, and many others, and we feel sympathy for the families. But when death dares to come inside, or close to, our door, our feelings are shattered. That this enemy could triumph over us is more than we can bear. The Bible says “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). And again in v 22 it says, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”).

Thank God that because of Jesus Christ death is not the end for us or our loved ones who have accepted Him as our Savior. No, it’s not the end, but the beginning of a glorious reign with Him in His heavenly kingdom.