The Consequences of One Wrong Choice

Last week, we sat in a cold, oppressive courtroom. Hushed words were spoken and little emotion was shown on the solemn faces of attorneys and investigators. You could almost cut through the heaviness. Sitting on the first few rows on the right side of the room, sat the defendant’s family members. Their faces were downcast and the look of pain was obvious.

 

Marcus and Mary Ann Kauffman

Marcus and Mary Ann Kauffman

 

We sat on the first few rows on the left side, supporting our friends. The widowed spouse, grieving parents, in laws, brothers, sisters and close friends of the deceased victim— an outstanding young man, a fireman and soon-to-be first time father, who was senselessly murdered two years ago. All because of someone’s wrong choice. The choice to break into this young couple’s home, the choice to steal their belongs…and then the choice to shoot a person, eventually taking his life.

 

The young man in an orange jumpsuit was escorted into the room, hands and feet in shackles. I looked at those same hands that had gripped the gun, thus begining the nightmare and heartbreak of our friends’ journey. How could he commit this horrendous act? As I listened again to every minute detail of what took place that day, it struck a chord within me. I recognized the importance of making right choices, yet I realized it goes much deeper…

 

Each of our choices are merely a reflection of what we are thinking. It seems God knows what He’s talking about when He says in His word, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…” In reality, we make hundreds of choices each day. And every one of them affect other people. Yet each choice begins by a small thought. Everything we do is simply our thoughts lived out.

 

As the defendant heard the words, “Life in prison plus 360 (and some) months…,” I wondered what he thought about the choices he’d made. Earlier in the trial, I had glanced over and saw an elderly woman (whom I presumed was the grandma of the defendant) begin wiping tears when these words were said to the defendant by our friends, “We forgive you. We’re praying you will find Jesus.” Did Khari McClelland think about how his choices would affect his praying grandma? I doubt it.

 

Then as we were leaving the courtroom, we heard the deep, heart-wrenching cry, “Oh, my baby! And it nearly took my breath away, because although in a different way, I recognized that cry. That same cry mother’s cry that had once come from the very pit of my stomach. It’s the deep agonizing cry Marcus’s parents and family have also been living with, and it was the cry that also became my companion when our son unexpectedly died five years ago. But the cry I heard in the courtroom moved me in a different way. Because I know there are some things harder to live with than death. And my heart has been burdened to pray for this mother who has needed to helplessly watched the pain her son inflicted on so many individuals.

 

I wonder if Mr. McClelland ever thought about what his choice that morning, two years ago, would do to his mother? I doubt it.

Judge

 

He’d made many other wrong choices prior to this. Choices to love himself, and his “weed,” more than relationships and others’ lives. He’d chosen to think about himself and what he wanted more than his family.

 

Each of us can learn valuable lessons from this. And our focus needs to be on what we think about, rather than simply on our choices. We should be thinking about how to love our neighbors more than ourselves. Thinking about someone else’s feelings rather than our own.

 

Our world has become extremely selfish. Many crimes are committed because of the monster of greed and selfishness. Sexual assaults happen because of the same. Pornography is laced with selfish desires and disregarding loved ones. Child abuse often happens because a parent just “can’t handle” their child or loves their drugs and happiness more than the child.

 

How do we apply all of this? What can we do to turn this around? It starts by recognizing that we will never be able to make enough good choices, on our own, to merit anything of significant value. The only choice that has eternal value is our choice to love and follow Jesus. And when we do this, He is able to help us take our thoughts captive. This is the key to making right choices.

 

That day in the cold court room, I saw a beautiful, breathtaking example of making the right choices. It was when the parents and widow looked into the face of the murderer and said they choose to forgive him. I know this didn’t happen because they decided that morning to forgive him. And I know it wasn’t because they felt like forgiving him. No, it was because they had predetermined to think the thoughts that Jesus would think. And these thoughts led to this courageous act.

 

I was closely watching the others in the room. I saw the effect of those selfless, nearly impossible words. “We forgive you.” I saw investigators, detectives, as well as the defendant’s family wiping tears. And I pray that someday, Khari McClelland will understand the depth this came from. We pray he will find the same faith and God’s forgiveness for the choices he’s made. Does he deserve it? No. But do any of us deserve God’s forgiveness?

 

~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)

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11 Responses

  1. Barb says:

    This post was so well written. As I was reading, I felt the heart cry, the hurt, yet the love and concern for the one who committed the crime. Just as Jesus forgave those who crucified Him, this offender was also forgiven. Yes, may he find God in the confinement of the walls of prison.

  2. Jan Howard says:

    Thank you for sharing. Heart breaking. And yes, Jesus is the answer.
    Proverbs 23:7 is so true.
    For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…..
    I will pray for all concerned. God bless you all.

    Jan

  3. Cindy Mullett says:

    Praise the Lord! Thank you for the words of blessing, Barb.
    ~Cindy

  4. Cindy Mullett says:

    Praise the Lord! Thank you for your words of blessing, Barb. And I whole heartedly agree…we have lost our awe of God. May God help our nation. And more specifically, may God help ME! ~Cindy

  5. Sherry Gore says:

    Thank you for sharing your perspective here. I remember asking myself while sitting with my daughter at the pediatric neuro-oncologist’s office, Could there be a worse place to be with your child? Yes, I realized. To be in a courtroom during a murder trial with your child seated in the defendan’t’s chair would be far worse. My heart goes out to each of the mothers who experienced a staggering loss by this tragic crime.

  6. A Believer says:

    David had an affair with a married woman, then abused his power as King again when he sent her loyal husband to the battle field to die .
    God and the people forgave him. I am sorry for the loss of both families. The justice system is not just. Two men’s lives were taken, not one. The justice system does not redeem a person through the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, which NOT ONE of us deserves.

  7. Cindy Mullett says:

    Dear A Believer,

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I would encourage you to read Romans 13:1-7 where it talks about the government and what it’s role is. I understand what you’re saying. That mother has virtually lost a son as he will never be released from prison for the rest of his life. But I still believe it is the government’s God-given authority to punish evil. In verse 4 of chapter 13, it says, “For he (the rulers/government) is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil.”

    God does forgive. And I LOVE your point about how none of us deserves the grace and forgiveness offered to us. That is so true!! That’s why our family travels across the US and Canada sharing in prisons. Because those incarcerated are JUST as valuable to God as anyone else, and NONE of us deserves the grace and forgiveness of God. I wrote an article a while back about a time that we shared with the ladies on death row…we do care about these people that have committed unthinkable acts.

    http://www.themullettfamily.com/events/death-row-women-receive-life/

    But while we need to forgive those who offend us and while God extends immeasurable forgiveness, God is still just. Evil actions need to be punished, and it is the responsibility of the government to carry out that justice.

    Once again, thank you so much for your thoughts and discussion about this.

  8. Martha says:

    A good reminder that even when you forgive someone, still punishment and consequences still remain. Forgiveness does not mean that judgment is forgone or the punished not meted out.
    It simply frees you to move on and live life. The mother that is heartbroken, hopefully because her son made such poor choices, and not because she was sorry he was being punished.

  9. Amy Zimmerman says:

    Such a great article. Well done! I will definitely be sharing this.

  10. Cindy Mullett says:

    Very true, Martha. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. Cindy Mullett says:

    Thank you, Amy!

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