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December 27, 2018 | Mysti Jordan
It takes just one instant for everything in your life to change. One split second, and things are different forever. For Matt, it was the second that he was driving home from his paramedic job and he nodded off behind the wheel. He crossed over into the other lane and hit an oncoming car. In that car was a young mother, pregnant with her second child, and her 19-month-old daughter. She was the wife of a pastor in the community named Erik, and when Erik got to the hospital, he was told his daughter made it, but his wife and the baby she was pregnant with had not. And when the officers told Matt the same news, he was absolutely distraught. He said here he was, supposed to be the helper, but instead, he caused the tragedy.
When prosecuters went to Erik to see if he wanted to go after the maximum sentence with Matt, he declined. He felt like enough lives had been destroyed, and he figured this was a chance to practice the forgiveness he so often preached about to his congregation. In fact, the words of another sermon he once heard came to mind: "in moments where tragedy happens or even hurt, there's opportunities to demonstrate grace or to exact vengeance." Erik said he chose to demonstrate grace.
The judge did sentence Matt to community service and he had to pay a fine, and these two men went on about their lives, and had absolutely no interaction until the two-year anniversary of the death of Erik's wife. Matt went to the store to buy a condolence card to send to Erik, and they happened to be at the same store at the same time. Matt said he saw Erik walk through the doors of the store, across the parking lot toward his truck, and he just lost it. He began to sob. And when Erik got to him, he simply pulled him into his arms for a hug. And he said, "I forgive you. I forgave you a long time ago."
That started a two-hour conversation that day. The two men talked and cried and at the end of their talk, Erik told Matt, "Man, I don't know what you're going to say to this, but I just feel in my spirit that I'm supposed to stay connected to you somehow." Matt admitted he felt the same way, and they agreed to stay in touch.
As the years went on, the bond grew, and the two became really close friends. Matt even got to know Faith, Erik's daughter. Erik and Faith eventually moved out of state and Matt married and had kids of his own, but the two men are still very close, and their families visit one another often. Matt says he really loves to see their children playing together. He says, "Seeing Faith hold my kids - it puts a smile on my face. It hurts to see that, but it's the cards that we were dealt. And now it's our story together. It reminds me that there's grace and there's hope and there's good."
Even crazier, Erik remarried and he and his new wife had a baby on the same due date that the child he lost was supposed to be born on.
Watch the video below to see how God has provided restoration for these two families.