Twenty five years ago, I received one of those calls that no one wants to get. It was a relative informing me that my wife’s father had been killed at his store. My first thought was that some horrible accident had taken his life, but that was not the case. He had been murdered during a robbery.
I will never forget telling my wife the news. We were both in shock, and couldn’t really believe it until we arrived at her parent’s house to confirm the story.
Had they captured the person responsible? No. They were checking every possible lead.
But days turned into weeks, months, years, and even decades. We understood this crime may never be solved. We knew we may never have complete closure. However, two investigators, John Mehr and Joe McDowell, vowed to never give up until it was solved.
Twenty two years later, we received another unexpected call.
Thanks to DNA and a lot of diligence, they had solved the crime. An arrest had been made. Little did we know that we were about to begin a three year journey to trial.
The night before the first court date, emotions were high. We knew we were about to see, for the first time, the accused killer. My brother-in-law called and said: “I’m really concerned about what will happen tomorrow in court. Until this time, there was no specific person we could direct our emotions toward. I don’t want to hate him, because I don’t want to hate anybody.”
I was riveted by his words. I had to check my own core convictions. We all needed to guard our hearts.
Three years passed slowly. Frustration with the court system was heavy at times. I would reschedule coaching clients, only to have the court date changed at the last minute. Everything seemed to sway in the favor of the accused.
Still, we had to guard our hearts.
Finally, another court date arrived and this time we made it to trial. A day and a half of proceedings fueled more frustrations because, yet again, everything seemed to be playing out in favor of the accused.
Testimony and closing remarks were given and the time came for deliberation. After 25 years, the fate of this entire case was now resting in the hands of twelve jurors.
The jurors finished their deliberation and we were called back into the courtroom. The judge informed us that the jury had reached a verdict.
“The jury finds the defendant guilty of first degree murder.”
It was over in a matter of seconds. Justice had been served.
Almost immediately, I felt a wave of compassion. I felt for his parents, his family, and even him. I got what I wanted – justice. But I also understood that mercy was required.
I realized that it’s not just about justice OR mercy… but rather, we are called to seek both justice AND mercy.
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)