“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” – Colossians 1:19
In 1992, Joe Avila was driving drunk near Fresno, California. He struck and killed a young woman named Amy Wall. After wrestling of what to do, Joe checked into a six-month sobriety program with the Salvation Army. A few months into the program, he came to a decision that would impact him, his family, and the Wall family, too. Just before Easter of 1993, he entered the courthouse and confessed to hit-and-run death of Amy.
Joe spent the next seven and a half years behind bars at California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, California.
In prison, Avila spent his time working with hospice patients and serving in the chapel. He shared the Gospel with his fellow prisoners—the highlight of his incarceration.
On January 6, 1999, Joe Avila went home to his family and friends.
When the weekend arrived, he and his wife discussed attending church on Sunday—their first time together.
New Hope Community Church was waiting to welcome Joe and his family with open arms.
"The pastor had been preparing the congregation for my return for several months," he says.
Not long after Joe’s release, his mentor called to say that Amy's father Rick Wall wanted to meet with him.
Joe had a long meeting with Rick. Rick told him about the two days a year when he visits Amy's grave—on her birthday and the anniversary of her death.
During that meeting, something miraculous occurred.
"Rick Wall, Amy's father, forgave me before I even asked him to forgive me," Joe remembered. Rick told him, "Joe, I know what you've been doing for a long time now, even when you were in prison, and I approve of it."
Joe's prayers for reconciliation were being answered.
He next met with Amy's mom, who asked him to watch a three-hour video of Amy's life before their meeting.
"I really got to know Amy that night," he said, "and how precious she was and what a tragedy happened when I took her life."
Joe admitted it was painful to seek forgiveness from the Walls, but he knew God could use the situation for His glory if he did.
Forgiveness and reconciliation is a rare and beautiful expression of Christ’s love. Today in prayer, confess and sin that may be in your life and seek to be reconciled to anyone who you are estranged.
“Why should the world believe in reconciliation when it doesn’t see the church reconciled? And the church is not going to be reconciled even if it gets all the issues solved. It will be reconciled only through Jesus Christ. He is the Reconciler.” – Richard C. Halverson
God’s Word: “that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” – 2 Corinthians 5:19
By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2017, Devotional E-Mail
DEVOTIONS IN COLOSSIANS