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While serving his life sentence, Doug went on a spiritual pilgrimage, experimenting with many different religions to try to find his faith. One day, going through a guided meditation, he was brought again to his visceral memories of being abused as a child. His body began to shake with fear and rage and, instead of observing and detaching himself from his thoughts like he was guided to do, he turned his pain into a cry for help. 

“I voiced the question, ‘If You are all powerful, why did you let them do that to me over and over?…For some reason unknown to me, I concluded God hated me and that was that.

“But He is ever tireless in seeking out the lost sheep. Now, the heavens didn’t open with audible voices and visions of angels, but the heavens did open, and He answered my question.”

How? Doug’s painful prayer was answered by reading in the Gospels the story of Christ’s Holy Passion. “I was seeking a sign of His love…for me. And the only sign given is the abused, tortured, crucified, and killed Christ raised in glory.

“Jesus could have stopped His ordeal at any time, but He didn’t. He was arrested like a criminal, bound and mocked…He could have snapped His fingers, destroyed His accusers, and stopped it. But He didn’t…A man proclaimed innocent today and yet sentenced to death would have people protesting in the streets. But as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” 

“Jesus in Golgotha” by Theophanes the Cretan

“On His way to Golgotha, He staggered and stumbled. It must have been the weight of our sins that drove Him to the ground…but the power of His love for us made Him stand again. Step by step, one foot in front of the other, He made His way to the place of the Skull [Golgotha]…No one loves us like He does to endure what He did.

“Love was on display at Golgotha, and Its promise fulfilled in the empty tomb. St. Peter tells us God desires that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), so I must be included in there somewhere. Why He should love me so—there is no good reason. I know full well what I am…So it seems to me the only reason He loves us so deeply is He just can’t help Himself. It’s His nature. It’s Who He is.”

Like Christ’s parable of the two debtors (Luke 7:36-50), Doug’s great debt has been transformed into even greater love for Christ. In Christ’s road to the Cross and victory over death, Doug had finally found the full picture of God’s love—for even him. May we all see Christ as clearly as Doug has.