In the past month, Charlie hadn’t brought up Jesus’ third way a single time. Yet Kevin couldn’t get it out of his mind. So much of what he knew about “Christians,” the Bible, and the responses of Christians who supposedly believed in the Bible didn’t fall in line with what he’d heard from Charlie. In fact, Kevin tracked down a Bible from the prison library and read through Jesus’ life as described in the book of Matthew. He found himself inspired and drawn in by the words and actions of Jesus. There was something incredibly strong about his humility and service. Jesus never compromised his dignity, but he also didn’t compromise the dignity of those around him—not even those who opposed him.
Kevin knew he’d never get out of prison after killing Cory, but he nevertheless made the conscious decision to follow in the way of Jesus. And it was time for Kevin to get creative in responding to those who hoped to hurt him. He wanted to be known for his ability to humbly forgive rather than violently respond. Kevin decided that if his personal realignment in the way of Jesus was going to impact the world around him, then it must start with healing in his family.
For almost two years, Kevin had chosen anger and bitterness toward his parents for the way they’d raised him. He’d wanted nothing to do with them. His mother wrote him letters every week, but Kevin had mustered up the courage to read only a few of them. But after weeks of excited, hopeful discussion with Charlie about this new life in the way of Jesus, Charlie challenged Kevin to read his mother’s letters and find a time to have a conversation with her.
With trembling fingers, he slowly ripped open the envelope containing his mother’s most recent note. Kevin’s heart skipped a beat as he read that his mother was planning to see him the next day in the hopes of talking with him. It was one thing for Kevin to begin the healing process with his parents by reading his mother’s letters. But it was something else to see her in person. He suddenly couldn’t read anymore, and he felt his stomach tighten. Kevin had carried so much pain and anger for so long. He wasn’t sure how to live without it, and he certainly wasn’t sure how to release it.
While lying on his bunk and staring up at the cement ceiling, Kevin was reminded of Jesus’ words that followed the passage that Charlie had first introduced to him in Matthew 5:38–42. He opened his Bible to Matthew 5:43–48:
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I
tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be
sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and
sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you,
what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you
greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans
do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Reading these words didn’t make the next step any easier or less painful. But again Kevin was inspired by the words of Jesus. Part of forgiving his mom meant loving her. As a follower of this radical way of life in Jesus, Kevin knew he had no other choice but to meet with his mother the next day.
I will post the FINAL part of the story tomorrow!