The New York Times editorial headlined it as “A Moment of Grace.” The article began with this observation:
“In an age whose crabbed sense of justice finds expression in dismal phrases like “zero tolerance” and “three strikes and you’re out,” the events in a Long Island courtroom on Monday came as an undeserved gift, something startling and luminous.”
It all began when Ryan Cushing and 5 other teens went out “for a night of joy riding and crime.” After stealing a credit card, they bought some DVD’s, video games and then some food at the grocery store.
One of the kids decided it would be fun to throw some of the grocery items at on-coming cars. One of the missiles was a 20 pound frozen turkey that crashed through the windshield of Victoria Ruvolo, “who suffered severe injuries and needed many hours of surgeries to rebuild her shattered facial bones.”
Ryan Cushing, who threw the turkey, was charged with assault and could have been sentenced to 25 years in prison. However, through “Ms. Ruvolo’s insistence, prosecutors granted him a plea bargain instead: six months in jail and five years’ probation.” “The prosecutor, Thomas Spota, had been ready to seek harsh punishment for a crime he rightly denounced as heedless and brutal.”
What occurred next was incredibility touching. As Ryan Cushing left the courtroom, he faced Victoria Ruvolo for the first time. He expressed his heart-felt sorrow and begged her to forgive him.
“She did. She cradled his head as he sobbed. She stroked his face and patted his back. “It’s O.K.; it’s O.K.,” she said. ‘I just want you to make your life the best it can be.’”
Our word of the week is “grace.”
Ryan Cushing received grace. Undeserved. Unearned. Unmerited. Yet, Victoria Ruvolo’s grace pales in comparison to God’s gracious gift through Jesus Christ.
The Bible says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Eph 2:8)
Paul’s description of the Ephesians’ past lives is ours!
We were dead in sin! As one writer expressed it, “We weren’t in God’s doghouse. We were in the morgue!” A spiritual morgue. We were outside of Christ. Living apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And estranged from God. We were dead! Dead in trespasses and sins.
We were dominated. We were under the control of the world. The world of wickedness. The sphere of ungodliness. The realm of worldly thinking. We were under the domination of the Devil. We were controlled by carnal desires of the flesh. It’s not a very pretty picture!
We were doomed! We were without hope. Separated from all that is holy. And sentenced to eternal damnation.
But God…intervened. “The God of all grace” sent His Son from heaven to earth on a rescue mission to pay the price for my ransom, to redeem me from sin and to reconcile me with Him
And what did I do to deserve heaven’s gracious gift? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!
In his commentary on Ephesians, Dr. Charles G. Caldwell explained it this way: “Grace is undeserved blessing. Grace manifest God’s attitude of love and pity for sinful man in relieving him of guilt. To justify such relief by grace, God provided the sacrifice of His Son. To inform us of his grace, God provided special revelation. To teach us how to receive his grace, God provided the gospel made known in that revelation.”
A gift, however, requires one who is willing to receive it. In order to have the charges of his crime dropped, Ryan Cushing had to receive the offer of grace. He had to agree. And he was required to perform certain actions. His compliance, however, did not negate the gracious offer by Ruvolo and the Prosecutor.
God did for us what we cannot do. He provided the means of salvation. By faith, he asks us to receive it on His terms of pardon. And when we do, we have no room to gloat. We didn’t earn it. God provided it!
God doesn’t want us to be lost. Imprisoned by sin’s shackles. Or burdened by the guilt of our crimes. In fact, I can almost hear Him say, “I just want you to make your life the best it can be.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman