Monday, March 14, 2005

"I See Dead People"

March 13, 2005

After what many would call a terrifying weekend, people in this town could go to sleep Sunday evening knowing they were safe. They would not have to face the ordeal so often feared and often rejected - standing their ground and sharing their personal beliefs.

Four dead, several injured, numbers of families hurt, justice unserved and the tragedy of a man overtaken with the lower nature of his psyche. As it unfolded here in Atlanta and ended just a few miles from this writers own location - you think back to the thoughts going through your head during that evening and day. "what would you have done? - would you have tried to run? - would you have looked the killer in the eyes and stood up to him? would you have tried to stop this madman ? - would you fight? - would you pray?"

For Ashley Smith - she chose to pray. When Brian Nichols told her to look into his eyes to see a "dead man" - she saw something quite different than he had expected to hear. She said he was very much alive and standing there with a choice to make. Would he give himself up - or would he continue his killing spree that would probably end with his own death?

Ashley Smith also shared her faith with the killer. She stood alone, in the face of death - just as the first century disciples stood alone as witnesses, knowing they were ultimately going to be martyrs - and she also stood her ground - knowing a private religion is a meaningless religion that couldn't help her and certainly couldn't help her kidnapper.

A few years ago when the movie "The Sixth Sense" came out - it told of a child who said, "I see dead people". Unsettling at best from anyone - particularly for those who didn't seem to understand why he would say such a thing. The Bible Ashley Smith read to Brian Nichols also says we are all dead even though we don't realize it - though it seems we are all alive and well.

From the story Ashley Smith related to the press at her news conference, she had the opportunity to see a dead man come alive. For anyone who has seen this happen - even if not under so dramatic circumstances - it is a life changing experience. Ashley Smith will never be the same. Certainly if indeed it is true - Brian Nichols will never be the same.

Justice must be done. Brian Nichols must pay for his crimes. His debt is huge. So big, even paying with his life will not repair or repay the awful damage. He has offended many in this life and he has offended an infinite God. No matter what decision he made in Ashley Smith's apartment - Brian Nichols will not pay the infinite debt he incurred or added to this weekend. He is merely finite - he doesn't have the time in this life or the next to pay this debt. He, Ashley, I and all of the rest of us must look to One who can pay our own infinite debts none of us can pay ourselves.

Ashley Smith says her trust is in Christ. Ashley Smith says she believes Brian Nichols is her brother in Christ. That is a hard thing for any of us to understand. Forgiveness is like that. It is overwhelming. It is undeserved. It is grace.

If there is anything good to come of this terrible weekend in Atlanta - it is Grace.

Though justice must need be done - Grace is eternal.


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"Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it has a God who knows the way out of the grave." -- G.K. Chesterton