Some of you may have read my post on Friday about “Surviving the Worst Case (or, Finding a Stranger in Your Kitchen at 4am).” Basically I wrote about how God is with us even through what we consider to be the worst case scenario, and I told the story of a friend who discovered a man standing in his kitchen at 4am, covered in blood. The following is an email I received from that friend after he went to court for the man’s hearing:
I was summoned to appear at the preliminary hearing of the man who broke into our house that night…
I found myself a little nervous pulling up to the district judge’s office and I realized upon entering the tiny little office that I was again face to face with the man that I had found in the kitchen that night. I wondered early this week if I would recognize him when I saw him…I realized a split second after seeing his face that I did recognize him and that I was unlikely to ever forget it. I sat there and waited for my name to be called, unsure of what the process would look like and what would be required of me. My heart was to extend grace to this young man and encourage him in his journey.
After a while the assistant district attorney and the arresting officer called me outside. They explained what was going on and what charges were being brought against the young man and how he was someone with no previous record who had made some bad choices. They wondered if I would be okay if the charge was lowered from a felony of criminal trespass to some type of misdemeanor instead. It would mean avoiding a trial for the young man. I told them that I was happy to lower the charge and that I didn’t have any ill will toward the man and that I would sign off on the paperwork that they were asking about. The judge (who happens to be a good friend of mine) came out in the midst of our conversation and told the men that he wanted to see me when we were done.
So I went into the judge’s office and shared with him – previously I had wanted to avoid any type of conflict of interest for him, so I hadn’t discussed the details of the event…oddly enough he had just realized yesterday when preparing for today that I was the person whose house this had happened at. We had a great conversation – I signed the paperwork and thanked the Assistant DA and the officer for what they do and then I went to walk back through the narrow hallway past the young man who was still sitting there next to his father. Before I left I asked the judge if he thought it would be okay if I invited the young man to get a cup of coffee sometime so that I could share my heart with him a bit and some of my journey through life – the judge felt great about it so I walked into the room unsure of how it would go.
As I had sat just a few feet away from [him] when I had arrived for the hearing I felt waves of emotion wanting to rise up inside of me and I felt like I could cry. Now as I approached him I was excited and curious to see how things would play out. Before I said a word he rose out of his seat and extended his hand toward me.
“Sir,” he said, “I have been advised not to speak to you. But I wanted to let you know how deeply sorry I am for what happened. I really appreciate you being gracious with me and having the charges lowered to help me out. I have wanted to contact you before but I have been advised not to speak to you. I apologize. I’m sure if I was in your shoes it would have been a very scary thing to experience.”
“You are forgiven man,” I said. “I accept your apology and you are forgiven. I was hoping that we would get a chance to talk. God has been gracious with me when I have made mistakes and I don’t hold anything against you. I was actually hoping that I could share some of my journey with you sometime if you would like to get together.”
“I would love to hear about your life,” he said. “If I give you my contact information will you call me to set it up?”
I was so happy. This is exactly what I was hoping for, an opportunity to sit down and talk about life with him and get to share my story and hear some of his. I took his number and then introduced myself to his father who again thanked me for being gracious and helping them out. Again I assured them that people have been gracious with me and that God has been gracious with me and that there are no hard feelings. I told them to hang in there with things and we said our goodbyes.
Then I went out into my car and started it and sat there and cried. I cried because I know that God loves me. I cried because of a million bottled up thoughts. I cried because of how redemptive God is and I cried because of that young man and how I know that God is going to move in his life. And I cried because I felt God’s pleasure with me as a son and I cried because God is good and I love it.