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"How Much Is Enough?"

   John is a convicted and condemned child-killer.  He brutally killed two boys and awaits the electric chair.  The reasons he gave for the murders were:  growing up in a dysfunctional home, a strict domineering mother, and a childhood in which he was the victim of bullies.  This made him want to dominate and control others even to the point of murder.  He will pay with his life.

   For the last 16 years, Kevin has been required to send one dollar a week to a family as a reminder of what happened on the first Friday of 1982.  That was the day seventeen-year-old Kevin killed the eighteen-year-old daughter of that family.  He was convicted and served a jail sentence for manslaughter and drunken driving.  Kevin is to pay until August of the year 2000.

   Four times the family has taken Kevin back to court for failure to pay on time.  He once spent thirty days in jail for failure to pay.  The mother of the girl said, "We want to receive a check every week on time.  He must understand we are going to pursue this until all 936 payments are complete.  We'll go back to court every month if we have to."

   Can you feel the anger of the girl's parents and the parents of the murdered boys?  Considering the deep, deep hurt, how much payment would you say was enough if you were in one of those families?  What kind of payment would you require?  Would you be satisfied once the switch was pulled, or the last dollar received?

   Everyone, I believe, has been hurt at some time by someone.  We bear painful memories of the times we died inside because someone spoke too harshly, demanded too forcefully, drank too freely, hit too brutally, dominated too cruelly, or ignored too coldly.  There are some who have had their spirit killed because a parent abandoned them, or a spouse dumped them, or a boss laid them off when they desperately needed the job.  Some have died inside through constant criticism, fault-finding, put-downs and belittling.

   Now there is a deep hurt and anger and a desire for payments to be made.  But how much, and for how long?  Perhaps you think that as long as you hurt, they're going to hurt too.  And when the old wounds are reopened, you want them to bleed too -- ignore them, shame them, ridicule them.  Anger can certainly get the adrenaline flowing.  Justice demands payment.

   But...before you clench the fist, sharpen the tongue, or bend the elbow, consider this:  How much payment does God expect from you for neglecting Him, for putting Him down, for abusing or killing the gifts of love He gave you, or for dumping Him for some other love?  Justice demands payment, even to God.  Now what do you do?

   Well, there is nothing you can do.  That is why the Heavenly Father made the payments for you when He gave His Son to die on the cross.  The pain, suffering and death of Jesus was the one and final payment for all the pain caused to you, and all the pain caused by you.  Justice and grace meet on the cross.

   You don't have to keep on paying and hurting.  You can put the burden and the anger down.  In love, God says, "Enough is enough.  It's all paid for, even for the ones that hurt you.  I've given my Son for them too."

   Do you know that you have a new beginning?  Do the ones that have hurt you know about God's love and forgiveness?  God has broken the cycle of pay and payback, and hurt and hurt back.

   Empty your hands of the pain and anger you drag around day after day.  Give it to Jesus to bury in His tomb.  Then your hands are open and free to receive the gift of His love.  It is enough.

     -- Pastor Vidler --

Copyright © 1998  by  Pastor C. David Vidler
Calvary Lutheran Church -- Chicago, IL. ]