How many of us have any idea the depths of God’s forgiveness?
In June of 1983, a young woman named Karla Faye Tucker savagely murdered a couple as they slept. She was convicted and sentenced to death. While in prison, she stole a Bible and began to read it. Karla cried out to Jesus for forgiveness and received Him as her Lord and Savior. God began a work in her life that was evident to all who knew her. Many well-known Christian and national leaders petitioned the Texas governor for her sentence to be commuted to life in prison rather than the death sentence. However, her last appeal was rejected. Crimes have consequences in this world, and she knew she must pay the penalty.
She was interviewed by Larry King. The following is the last part of that interview.
TUCKER: … “There are people out there who are in pain because — I mean, every single day they have to think about the loss I caused. They live it every day with birthdays and holidays, and maybe a smell that triggers a memory, so it’s not — I — I realize that. I mean, I — I think about them all the time. And I know that they’re going through pain.”
KING: “But in the face of certain death, you remain up?”
KING: “You have to explain that to me a little more. It can’t just be God?”
TUCKER: “Yes, it can. It’s called the joy of the Lord. When you have done something that I have done, like what I have done, and you have been forgiven for it, and you’re loved, that has a way of changing you. I mean, I have experienced real love. I know what real love is. I know what forgiveness is, even when I did something so horrible. I know that because God forgave me, and I accepted what Jesus did on the cross. When I leave here, I am going to go be with him.”
Did her story turn out the way many had hoped? Did God come in at the last moment and stay her execution? No, but Ms. Tucker was given a gift before she went to meet her Lord face to face. She knew better than most people of how much God had forgiven her and how much He loved her. In confessing her sins, horrible as they were, she discovered the unbelievable depth of God’s love despite the crimes that she had committed before she met Jesus in her prison cell.
This is what God promises to us all. If we confess our sins, He will do far more than just forgive us. He will cleanse us. He loves His children far too much to let us wallow in the filth and stench of our sin. He asks us to confess our sins to the God who loves us and know His cleansing.
This is in no way intended to minimize the hurt and loss caused by Ms. Tucker’s actions. It is intended to demonstrate the depth of God’s love, mercy, and grace.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 ESV