As I write this, it is just a few hours since the 100th anniversary of the murder attempt of my natural father on July 11th, 1922.
Walking home alone along a remote country road late at night, he was shot at point-blank range by a waiting gunman. In the instant, he instinctively raised his arm to protect himself, and took the full force of the gunshot on his left elbow.
I never knew my natural father, he was 60-years my senior; and he crafted my private adoption when I was a just few months old, (successfully concealing the shame of his adultery and my existence for the rest of his life, and hers).
But here I am, despite countless circumstances and coincidences in my natural parents’ lives, and my mum and dads’ lives, and my own life, that have resulted in me sitting here now considering it!
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret…
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
The attempted murder of my natural father was wicked.
My natural father’s adultery, and the adultery of his lover that led to my existence, was wicked.
And, I cannot claim to be innocent of wickedness, (but made righteous only through Jesus Christ).
But time and again as you read through God’s word, you will realise that God uses a wicked act for his own good purposes.
It was an act of wickedness that God used as the catalyst for his greatest act of grace and love: the betrayal by Judas that led to the execution, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It doesn’t matter what wickedness envelopes the world, or what troubles result.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Romans 8:35, 37
Throughout all things and all time, God remains in ultimate control.
God’s conclusion is already established, and it doesn’t matter what any person or people do in this world: at the right time, God will bring everything together under the authority of Jesus Christ, and God will make everything work out according to his established plan.
In whom we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will…
I don’t know what God has planned for my life in this world; despite whatever mess or troubles or dangers that may come, through Jesus Christ I shall endeavour to make myself usable and available to his Kingdom purposes, such as I am.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord
My natural father’s life was not ruined by his attempted murder and the loss of his arm; in fact it could be argued that it initiated his later entrepreneurial success.
But what of his assailant from that dreadful night in 1922?
I was chatting with a grandson to my natural father who had asked to meet with me, and one of the stories he told was truly remarkable:
As a boy, he remembered waiting impatiently in the corner of a pub in the little south Down village of Jerrettspass, while his grandfather enjoyed a pint of Guinness with a local man. He said that they were having a right old chinwag, like they were good old friends from way-back.
But he questioned his grandfather when they eventually left the pub, asking who his friend was, (this was the seventies, when sectarian violence and distrust was endemic); he was curious because the man ‘didn’t look like he was one of us!’
“Him?” His grandfather exclaimed with a smile; then pointing to the stump of his left arm, he laughed, “He’s the man who did this!”
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
1 Peter 3:11