Max Lucado is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 130 million books in print. He shares this amazing true story in his book, Grace Happens Here.
On a November evening, Victoria Ruvolo, a forty-four-year-old New Yorker, was driving to her home on Long Island. She’d just attended her niece’s recital and was ready for the couch, a warm fire, and relaxation.
She doesn’t remember seeing the silver Nissan approach from the east. She remembers nothing of the eighteen- year-old boy leaning out the window, holding, of all things, a frozen turkey. He threw it at her windshield.
The twenty-pound bird crashed through the glass, bent the steering wheel inward, and shattered her face like a dinner plate on concrete. The violent prank left her grappling for life in the ICU. She survived but only after doctors wired her jaw, affixed one eye by synthetic film, and bolted titanium plates to her cranium. She can’t look in the mirror without a reminder of her hurt.
Nine months after her disastrous November night, she stood face to titanium-bolted face with her offender in court. Ryan Cushing was no longer the cocky, turkey-tossing kid in the Nissan. He was trembling, tearful, and apologetic. For New York City, he had come to symbolize a generation of kids out of control. People packed the room to see him get his comeuppance. The judge’s sentence enraged them — only six months behind bars, five years’ probation, some counseling, and public service.
The courtroom erupted. Everyone objected. Everyone, that is, except Victoria Ruvolo. The reduced sentence was her idea. The boy walked over, and she embraced him. In full view of the judge and the crowd, she held him tight, stroked his hair. He sobbed, and she spoke: “I forgive you. I want your life to be the best it can be.”
She allowed grace to shape her response. “God gave me a second chance at life, and I passed it on,” she says of her largesse (generosity). “If I hadn’t let go of that anger, I’d be consumed by this need for revenge. Forgiving him helps me move on.”
Her mishap led to her mission: volunteering with the county probation department. “I’m trying to help others, but I know for the rest of my life I’ll be known as ‘The Turkey Lady.’ Could have been worse. He could have thrown a ham. I’d be Miss Piggy!”
This is the gift that God gives: a grace that grants us first the power to receive love and then the power to give it.
This is the miracle of Forgiveness! Only Jesus Christ can make such an unnatural act happen! We cannot do it in our own efforts or ability. It is too much for us to handle. (How do you forgive someone who has ruined your face and upended your life?) But Jesus gives us the ability to do the Impossible!
The Apostle Paul declares (Ephesians 4:31), “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We are able to forgive others because Jesus has already forgiven us. And He gives us the strength to forgive others. We pass His forgiveness to those who are hurting and broken by sin. Because what God does To you, He wants to do Through you!
This Sunday, October 10, we will continue our new series, “Freely Give!” by considering the beautiful gift of Forgiveness. Please join us in the building at 10:35am for worship. If you cannot join us in person, please join us online for the Live broadcast on either Facebook (Search: Honolulu AG) or our YouTube channel (Search: Honolulu Assembly of God). A link will be posted later to our website (honoluluag.org).
Fred To’omata invites us to join him for a Canoe Day on Sand Island. Never done it before? It’s easy and fun to learn and you will join others in the outrigger canoe. Sign up this Sunday for a fun day on Saturday, October 23.
Aloha and Aloha ke Akua!