Of all the attributes of love, mercy and forgiveness are perhaps the most cherished. I marvel at the many times God has shown mercy to me, and I remind myself that He asks me to extend that same forgiveness to others.
But do we treasure those second chances? Or do we presume that there will be more of them? Do we think that our responsibility to grow and change does not matter all that much?
God gives us the freedom to choose our actions, but not the consequences. And those consequences can be tragic.
On Wednesday my friend, Dale McConachie, was killed when his car was struck from behind and pushed into a concrete struture. You will search long and hard to find a more compassionate, encouraging, kindly man than Dale. He wore many hats: play-by-play sports broadcaster, radio announcer, teacher, and follower of Jesus. To his wife and daughters his loss is especially profound, and we mourn with them. Today his class on 2 Corinthians, “The God of Encouragement,” was set to begin. That classroom will be empty.
The young man responsible for Dale’s death did not learn from his second chance. In 2014 he completed an alcohol diversion program, designed for first time DUI offenders. This meant, among other things, that his car was rigged with an ignition interlock device. If he drank at all, even a tablespoon of Nyquil, not only would his car not start, but the offense would be recorded. Apparently during Diversion he was successful, but not for long after that.
Because at the scene of Wednesday’s accident, his blood alcohol level was 0.36, more than four times the legal limit. He was taken from the hospital to the county prison. With bail set at $260,000, I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere soon. He is only twenty-five years old.
Dale would urge me to have compassion instead of bitterness, and I’m working on it. After all, I have been forgiven of much. And Joshua Vann will have many sober years in prison to grapple with what he’s done. Finish high school. Pull his life together. And perhaps become like Dale, a follower of Jesus.
Who knows, maybe he will listen to Dale’s beautiful voice. It could happen. Dale considered the opportunity to record the Bible to be the biggest blessing of his vocational life.
If you’ve ever considered purchasing an audio Bible, this is the one. Dale said that his goal in recording is for you to feel, when driving down the road, as if your best friend is in the front seat, reading the Bible to you. Click on Dale’s image to hear him read Romans 8.
And let’s treasure–and learn from–our second chances. Because life on earth is wonderful, but so very brief. I’ll be leaving in a few minutes for service, and will doubtless walk past that empty classroom.