Danny… The Expanded Story of Grace

by DanWolgemuth on November 20, 2020

19. Still a teenager, but with enough pain, brokenness, confusion and trauma to cover a lifetime.

Drugs, alcohol, violence were the white noise of Danny’s existence. Then, desperation, a weapon, and an unsuspecting victim. At gun point Danny held up a man who confessed to having none of the cash that Danny hoped to retrieve. In a fit of anger and frustration, Danny took the pistol in his hand and struck the man in front of him.

Then… as though in cosmic slow motion, Danny watched as the man he had just pistol whipped, while falling backward, looked Danny in the eyes and said… “May God bless you.”

Like a branding iron on exposed flesh, these words seared into Danny’s soul. The blunt force of a handgun and unconstrained rage, counterpunched with the fist of grace and love.

Arrested. Convicted. Sentenced. Incarcerated… a 45-year term.

And while Danny was separated from friends and family, he was never disconnected from the words that were spoken over him. A blessing. From God. The victim as victor. The powerless as hero.

A seed sown. A message delivered.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (Romans 12:14, ESV)

What God ignited in an instantaneous exchange, he fanned into flame in prison.

Grace, unconstrained by iron bars, found its way into a cell. Brokenness. Confession. Forgiveness… and freedom.

Incarcerated, but free. Confined, but unconstrained. Serving time, but liberated. Danny. By Jesus.

Gentleness replaced violence. Hope evicted despair.

Ten years and eight months served, and Danny was released. But his debt was paid long before he walked away from the prison. And through the miracle of grace, God planted a dream. A dream of restoration. A dream of reclaiming the very communities that he had worked to destroy. A dream. Not Danny’s dream, but God’s vision. His plan. His strategy.

The ransom paid. The script written.

A “masterpiece” now on a mission. (For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

Created anew, to do the good things God Himself had planned.

“May God bless you…” and although those words, spoken 21 years ago, were intended for a violent street kid, they have been true in my life as well. God has blessed me through Danny.

From the wound of sin, grace flowed. To the true follower of Jesus, grace emerges at the moment of impact. As conqueror.

Indelible words. Unshakeable truth.

The Good Shepherd takes a punch in the face to rescue His lost lamb.

And then…

A mercenary becomes a missionary. Our evangelist. God’s anointed. To bring good news. To bad news neighborhoods.

A calling. Our calling.

Indeed… “May God bless you…” and He has. He does. He will.

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