It's been a year today since Andy passed. I wrote this last February to the man that killed him.
Dear Richard Gertler,
You chose to take Andy's life from him and us on January 2, 2015. On February 6, 2015 the Lord laid these words on my heart in hopes of speaking them to you... Some of the specifics of what I've wanted to say has changed, but the message has stayed the same: forgiveness. Not sure if I'd ever get the opportunity ... At that point the Lord was working overtime on my heart to help me get to a place where I truly forgave you... Because I hadn't at this point. A year ago, you allowed the enemy to take control of your life and that manifested into some of the most evil acts toward another human I've ever heard... To someone who called you "friend".
and these words... Hearing them from the Spirit and writing them down... They healed my heart... For you and towards you...
I forgive you...
I've never met you or laid eyes on you. What I know of you is the good of what Uncle Andy has said and what I know of the gruesome and senseless things you did to him, before, during, and after... What I know of your life is that a few days before you took Uncle Andy's, he was proudly telling us about yours. He was bragging on you- his friend- to us. We know now that he had made reservations at a restaurant to take you when he got home to say "thank you" for house sitting for him while he was with us. Ultimately, though, I know you're a human being- a child of the Living God... The Author of Life. Not just of mine, not just of Uncle Andy's, but of yours too. Therefore, it is by GRACE that I can offer you that forgiveness freely...But, I cannot offer you freedom from the grief, shame, dispair, brokenness, hardness of heart...
But Jesus can. And I desperately want you to know that freedom.
God's Word says:
Confess your sins with your mouth... (1 John 1:9)
One day every knee will bow and every tounge will confess...(Romans 14:11)
The death penalty possibility has been brought up. As Andy's favorite and only niece, these are my thoughts on that: Just as I don't feel that you should've had a say in when Andy's last breath was on this earth, I don't think I should have a say when yours is. That's up to God and right now... For whatever reason... God is choosing to breathe His life into my lungs and that same breath of life into yours... Both of us sinners, whom He dearly loves, and sent His son to die for so that we could have redemption and restoration and healing when we choose... If we choose...
I pray you choose...
I've been praying that since all of this began... Many people in our community have been praying that for you... By name... For Richard to know healing from his deep brokenness.
But I pray you don't waste time... I pray you reconcile with the One who willingly died, bearing the weight of my sin and your sin... and rose again to be reconciled with His people... His children. It's not too late for you. There is a man in the Bible named Moses. Moses killed someone, but that's not what history knows him for...that was not his identity was because He chose God...And a possible guilty verdict doesn't have to be your identity...
Ezekiel 18:23 says, “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live."
You've made a lot of choices that have gotten you to this point. Yet, there's one that can redeem all of those.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13
Today, if you shop at a Publix or pass a Farm Beureau (two beloved jobs of Andy's), think of him and pray for Richard's salvation.
Our family will never be able to say "thank you" enough to those that have walked through this with us. We still have a long road ahead with legal proceedings. But we love each of you so much!!
Passionate about Jesus and people, I've added this blog to communicate strategy and thoughts about Biblical Hospitality and The Church as a movement, rather than just people in a building once a week. It seems like everyone is blogging these days, (which is awesome!) and I know that there are always better and more insightful thoughts, but God is leading this so I'm just writing in obedience.