There are some people who you just meet once in your life and they make a big impact. The one time you've heard them speak or interacted with them marks you for the rest of your life. Several years ago, I was in a meeting where Gary Witherall spoke and I must say, I have never forgotten him or what he said!
Gary Witherall appeared to be just another guy; however, when he stood up to share his story, you knew there was something different about him. I was in tears the entire time he spoke. He was an unassuming man-- He didn't talk eloquently, but his words were powerful.
Gary shared of how his wife was working in a Pre-natal clinic and a Palestinian refugee knocked on the door and when his wife opened the door- the man shot her three times in the face/head. Gary talked of how when he was told of the tragedy he rushed there to find his beloved wife of 6 years dead. He fell down next to her and felt a blackness encompassing him...but at the same time God spoke to him, "You have a choice, are you going to hate or are you going to forgive"
He said that everything in him wanted to hate and be angry-- he said he had taught about forgiveness for years, but now that he had to make that choice and it was the last thing he wanted to do. As he continued to hold his wife's lifeless body, he knew that he had no other choice except to forgive. He shared that this is a 'pearl' experience in life-- pearls are created by sand getting into that oyster and causing friction and then the pearl forms- and in our lives when difficulty comes- (the sand)- as we allow God to form it within us- it becomes a pearl.
Forgiveness is the most important thing in life- it sets us free!!
*Gary Witherall's book, "Total Abandon" is available on Amazon.com.