"I'm watching you." The words sent in an email to our precious daughter when she was a freshman in college quite literally sent a chill down my spine. There were other words, more email. We went to the Campus Police and were pleasantly surprised at their professionalism and concern. They listened, gave council, and promised to do all they could to find the one - this evil one - who was watching our dearest girl.
The awful notes were written on a computer in the college library. It would be next to impossible to find the person responsible. We bought pepper spray, told her to never walk around campus alone and prayed.
I was filled with such anger at this unknown person who would dare to harm my daughter in this way. I asked my Bible Study group to pray for justice. I wanted him found and punished.
My dear, wise friend Mary gently reminded me of Jesus' admonition that we pray for those who persecute us. He tells us to love our enemies and to pray for them. I sat there weighted down by bitterness wishing the words away.
His gentle, persistent whisper can't be silenced by anger even when it screams at the top of its lungs. It takes up residence in the heart and woes us with unrelenting love. It reminds us of sin forgiven, grace unmeasured and a sacrifice so undeserved.
So we prayed blessing on the one who had invaded our lives with such darkness. Asked the Father to send someone into his life who would point him to Jesus.
They never found him. The letters simply stopped. It wasn't what I had originally hoped for, but something happened in my heart over the course of those weeks that is unexplainable apart from the grace of God.
As I prayed for this one whom I thought of as my enemy, I began to experience the unexpected. I felt myself drawn closer to the One who holds all things in His hands. Fear took flight and peace moved into my heart like a gentle balm - a peace that truly passes all understanding.
How is it that I am always surprised by grace - always surprised when the very thing He has promised comes true? He is so good. His word is true. His promises never fail.
"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty."
Joining my sweet friend Emily at imperfect prose: