On 7.17.15 an emotional victory took place in my life. Because of that, I became aware 717 had been significant in my life. Did you know that it takes 17 muscles to smile? Or that it’s the number of victory in the Bible? After realizing the significance I started going through my journals. I found someone had encouraged me on 7.17.14 that God was going to give me victory in some areas of my life. I also found on 7.17.12 I became friends with a muslim woman at a hotel in Oklahoma. On one of the last days that I saw her, I prayed for her foot to be healed, and God healed it!
July, 17, 2015, after almost 20 years, a man was arrested and charged with the brutal murder of my mother. My 38 year old mother was killed, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. She was found in a burned car, in a horse field. The crime scene was initially declared an accident by law enforcement, until the autopsy report revealed she died of head injuries. It was not an accident, but an intentional cover up of her death.
I’ve never found the words to articulate the arduous pain this caused me. If you were to take extreme grief, devastation, heartache, misery and roll it up - that would be the word. I waited almost 20 years, knowing who did it, but never having the pieces come together.
The TV show, Cold Justice, was a catalyst in the arrest. After the crew, cameras, and black SUVs left, we were left to wait. We waited for a year and half for the murder trial. I believed God was going to ‘Finish what He started’, justice would be served, and someone would be held accountable for the death of my mother. I believed my mother and I would have total victory in the situation. I had a storybook ending all planned for this travesty. We went through hearings, delays, and more delays, until finally, I received a call in February 2017. The attorneys had reached a plea deal. Sentencing would be on 2.17.17.
The first words out of the county attorney’s mouth were, “We have come to a resolution.” Great! I wanted a legal resolution for over half my life. That statement was as good as it got. The next words out of her mouth momentarily burned the life out of me.
Even though her death had been ruled a homicide, the defendant would be sentenced to an assault charge. There I was again, sitting in a pile of ash with the devastating news. The defendant had initially been charged with 1st Degree murder and $1,000,000 cash bond. He was even denied lowering the cash bond at one time.
But now, the attorneys had agreed to:
1. Willful injury (an assault charge)
2. One count of arson
3. One count of Suborning perjury (trying to solicit an alibi while he was awaiting trial)
This was NOT my storybook ending. In total shock, I did have the sense to ask a few questions…what about this and what about that. Then I learned more devastating news. A previous county attorney had destroyed evidence. Her burned car had been destroyed because of storage costs. Also, the State Medical Examiner at the time, lost important autopsy x-rays. Plus, the case was now 22 years old. Etc. Etc. Etc. For the most part, I just sat there shaking my head and silently crying.
I would keep seeing 717 after the sentencing. It would make me mad. I was mad at God that He didn’t intervene like how I thought He would. I would get the food receipt at the drive thru and the total was $7.17. My kids would ask me what time it was, and it was 7:17. I would even see it on license plates. My passport expires on 7.17. It kept turning up. It would infuriate me that God kept showing me this number. With gritted teeth, I told God to stop showing me the number because it was not a victory. Him getting away with murder was not a victory.
Between an insightful revelation, dream, and someone praying over me, I received freedom. I got out of bed one night at 10 o'clock and started dancing and praising God that love won! It was a victory! I just needed a heavenly perspective.
On 2.17 the day of sentencing, I gave my victim impact statement to the courtroom. I asked the murderer to look at me. He refused. His lawyer told him that he didn’t have to look. What he didn’t know is that I was offering him forgiveness. It wasn’t in my notes. It was a last minute compelling declaration. I paused at the end of my statement then I declared…
”I forgive you for hitting her, I forgive you for dousing her with gasoline, I forgive you for lighting her on fire. I forgive you.
Forgiveness costs something. It’s hard. It’s humbling. It cost me letting go of injustice. Forgiveness caused me to remember. To remember, that Jesus has forgiven me. In all of the crappy, shady, selfish things I have done. Also, in refusing to forgive the defendant, I was left to be tormented. I had had enough torment in my life. Forgiveness is powerful. It removes the victim mentality. My mother was his victim, I was purposely choosing not to be his.
Fast forward weeks later, I was listening to a podcast. The speaker was talking about Revelation 2:17 about a white stone with our name on it. It says how someone receives a stone after a trial, white if innocent and black if guilty. 2:17 obviously had my attention because of the sentencing date and the speaker mentioning a trial. So then I thought… maybe 717 has to do with a Bible verse too. I started looking and then… I found it.
Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes… Yes! Yes! This is the victory!!! Love won..mercy triumphs over judgement. Forgiveness is justice and justice is forgiveness in the Kingdom of God. Through Christ I gave the murderer what the worldly justice system could not give me. He gave me an eternal perspective. We are passing through. He is our destination! He is our destiny!
The victory is we are with Him, will be with Him, and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
As you can see- I’ve had a lot to work through. At the age of 19, I had been through so much trauma. I needed my heart healed in a humongous way. This blog will be about what I’ve walked through and how Jesus became My Baggage Taker. He is more than willing to take the baggage we were never meant to carry.