His funeral that windy February day was a celebration of the joy that he brought to our lives. It was a remembrance of all the good that his life represented. But his death made for a long, quiet van ride back to our home in Douglas later on.
I remember how dark the night seemed as our family made its way across South Georgia. The rural night air seemed to be pressing in on me from all sides. Finally, I broke the silence with a question to Sarah, "Does this van ride seem familiar? First, Taylor; now, dad." Sarah agreed then...quiet again. That's how our conversations went that night. Broken. Sporadic. Never really gaining momentum. In three months time, I had lost a precious niece and my dad. I had this overwhelming feeling that God was using these events and conversations to prepare us for something. By the time we finished the three hour drive, I was sure that God was preparing Sarah for my eventual death.
Little did I know that He would use the van ride conversations and all the ones that were to follow to prepare me for what I was about to go through in April. We talked about death, about moving on, about being prepared and about raising a family without each other. So, when tragedy struck our family that April afternoon, God had already been at work.
I cannot comprehend all the "whys" and "why nots" of April 9, 2004. I cannot honestly tell you that there were no doubts or fears that resulted from the accident (more about those in a later posting). But I can say that I drew great comfort (still do) from knowing that, long before our van ever left for its journey home that day, God had been looking out for me. He had been acting like a real Father--preparing me and my kids for the loss of Sarah and Josh.
You should be comforted as well. You see, your circumstances are never a surprise to God. No matter how much the darkness presses in on you, God has promised He will never give you more than you can handle. More than that, He has promised that He can use every circumstance, every trial, every danger or struggle to bring good. I am a completely different person in so many ways because of that five month period. Losing four people who I loved so dearly made me lean more heavily on God. I am better for having been through it. But I would have never chosen that path, would have never asked for those trials if I were given the choice. God knew better. He asked me to walk that journey because of what He knew it would teach me. He may ask you to do the same--He may have you at that place already. It may sound strange to say but...He loves you that deeply.