Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

The Cross

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 by Diane Chandler

On January 3, 2007, a 50-year old construction worker from Harlem was waiting to catch the NYC subway.  As Wesley Autry waited on the subway platform with his two daughters, ages four and six, he noticed a young man beginning to go into convulsions from an apparent seizure.  Along with two other women, Autry attended to him.  After the 20-year old film student, Cameron Hollopeter, stood up, he wobbled dangerously close to the platform drop-off and then tumbled onto the subway tracks below.

Wesley Autrey

With the subway fast approaching, Autry left his two daughters on the platform and jumped onto the tracks, hoping to pull Hollopeter to safety. With the subway mere seconds away, Autry threw his body over Hollopeter’s frame, as it nested in the 12-inch depression between the tracks, in order to shield him from moving until the subway passed.

Although the subway conductor tried to stop the subway, he could not do so prior to passing over the two-tiered bodies.  In fact, five subway cars passed over them. Through bystanders’ frantic screams and screeching brakes, the subway finally came to a halt. Amazingly, both Autry and Hollopeter emerged from the tracks unscathed. The distance between the top of Autry’s cap and the subway above was less than the length of a subway ticket.

Calvary's Cross

Why would a complete stranger do something for someone else at such great risk to his own life?  Answer:  In that split second decision, Autry valued this young man’s life above his own.  As we think about Calvary’s cross, why would God send His only Son to die for us?  The Bible tells us that, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Paul wrote to the Roman church: “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Paul declared to the Galatian church: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law”  (Galatians 3:13). The reason God sent His Son to die for us is that in eternity past, God knew that all humanity would need to be restored into right relationship with God through forgiveness of their sins.  Jesus came to take upon Himself the sins of the entire world.  The One who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). Although many were involved in Christ’s death (i.e., the betrayer Judas Iscariot, complicit Jewish leaders, the Roman soldiers, and Pilate), the Scriptures makes clear that Jesus voluntarily gave Himself to fulfill the Father’s will “so that by the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19b).

In his book The Cross of Christ, John Stott puts it simply (pp. 63-66). First, Christ died for us as the Good Shepherd laying down His life for the sheep. Second, Christ died for us that He might bring us to God through salvation, as we believe in Him. Third, Christ died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3), taking upon Himself the punishment for our sins.  And fourth, Christ died our death.  The Bible makes clear that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The sinless Son of God died the death that we deserved.

Like Cameron Hollopeter, I was laying helpless on the subway tracks with the subway fast approaching.  Jesus sacrificially jumped on the tracks of my life (leaving the 99 sheep to reach the one, who had gone astray), just as Autry left his two daughters on the subway platform to save Hollopeter.  Jesus shielded me from certain death. 

In preparing for Easter during this Lenten season, how do you respond when you think about Christ’s forgiveness of sin and His sacrifice on the cross for you personally?

Remembering 9/11 (10th Anniversary)

Saturday, September 10th, 2011 by Diane Chandler

We will never forget the moment we learned of the 9/11 terrorist attacks ten years ago.  The destruction of the four hijacked US airliners carved out an indelibly memory in our minds – the two burning infernos prior to the collapse of the Twin Towers in NYC, the section of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. ablaze, and the mammoth hole left by the fractured airplane of United Flight #93, after it dove into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at over 500 m.p.h..  Unadulterated evil crashed into our doorstep.

During the time of the attack, I was driving to a meeting to discuss my upcoming publication related to strengthening Christian leaders in their mission to share the love of Jesus around the world.  What complete irony, considering that destructive leadership had invaded my homeland.

As I was stopped at a traffic light, news on my car radio announced the collapse of the South Tower (2).  After arriving at my destination, I learned that the attacks were likely attributed to terrorists.  My host and I questioned if we should postpone our meeting.  Considering the nature of our discussion, we decided to shorten the meeting in our feeble attempt to fight evil with good, and then spent considerable time in prayer.  

Within 72 hours, all of the 19 hijackers had been identified as being associated with Al-Qaeda, the militant group founded by Osama bin-Laden; and since that time we have learned their stories.  Their worldview, contorted into religious knots of extremist Muslim ideology, deception, and hatred, so contrasted with the scores of people who sacrificed their lives for others on that 9/11 morning.  The psyche of the American spirit, as well as the conscious of the world, was forever shaped by their terror.  But it has not been overcome by it.

The true heroes who risked and sacrificed their lives include the valiant flight attendants and passengers of United Flight 93, who knew that this fourth plane was headed for the Capital or the White House. Also included were the hundreds of fire fighters, police personnel, and everyday people who ran into harm’s way to save others, not destroy them.  Notable among them, were the brave firefighters from NYC’s Ladder 6 who risked their lives to save 60-year old Josephine Harris.  Their story is told on this week’s Dateline NBC special, America Remembers.

A few days ago, the Washington Post featured the untold story of Maj. Heather “Lucky” Penney, one of two pilots flying unarmed F-16 fighter jets dispatched to down United Flight 93.  Given the 60-minutes needed to equip the jets with weapons, both she and her colleague, Col. Marc Sasseville, made the snap decision to enter a suicide mission of a different nature – to ultimately save lives.  They never had to complete that mission.

With September 11, 2011 being tomorrow, I am reminded of Jesus’ words: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44) and prayer after being crucified on the cross for the sins of the world, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:20).

The heart of being followers of Jesus Christ is infused in these verses.  Last evening, for the first time in 10 years, I forgave those 19 terrorists.  Have you?

I Met Myself on the Plane…

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

My blog last week, entitled “The Simplicity and Power of Testimony,” focused on the transformational power of sharing one’s personal story of God’s goodness with others. Soon after writing the blog, I flew to Vancouver, British Columbia for a work-related conference.

On the first leg of the trip, the gentleman seated beside me struck up a conversation.  After some small talk about our respective vocations and where we were headed, the conversation took an unlikely turn.  We soon found ourselves talking about the impact of fathers on their children’s lives (don’t ask me how).  Himself a father of three young children, he was especially keen on my sharing my story about my own father and how I came to a place of forgiving him several years earlier.  Read the rest of this entry »