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Tuesday, August 10, 2010


DISCLAIMER: Over the last several weeks, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

Over the last 6 years, I've been asked a lot of questions about what happened to our family. I hope that re-telling the story gives me a chance to answer many of them for you. I'd love the chance to do that, especially if something I have learned could help you navigate some situation in your life. So, feel free to contact me with questions (private or public) that you think I can be helpful with.

One question I was asked a lot in the early days was, "Did you want to quit?" As much as it was asked, I know there were probably others who wanted to ask and didn't. It seems like such a dark question. Is it possible that I (a pastor and father) wanted to leave my faith, withdraw from life or, even worse, end it altogether? The short answer is "yes." Those thoughts and many others crossed my mind. Some were fleeting thoughts that never lingered for long. Others were dark images that would haunt me over and over.

There were many reasons that I never gave in to that kind of thinking. One factor (and some of you might understand this) was my years of involvement in sports. It had always been ingrained in me--first by my dad and then by various coaches--that you just can't quit when life gets tough. You have to have a mental toughness about you that pushes you to keep moving along, even if it's at a slower pace. (some would call my "mental toughness" stubbornness. Call it what you will, it works).

Secondly, there was another lesson I learned early on from my parents that, no matter what you are facing, there is always someone else who has it tougher than you. About the same time that our accident occurred, I had a family member who was going through a divorce. His wife had walked out on him and his kids. I remember talking to him that week and telling him how sorry I was. In my mind, it was easier to face the fact that my wife had been taken from me than to know that she would ever choose to leave me.

More than anything else, there was the knowledge that God allows no suffering to pass that He can't bring good. We simply must trust Him. I had to trust Him. I had sung the songs. I had taught those lessons. I had prayed those prayers. But, now, in the midst of the darkest moment of my life, I was faced with the question of whether my faith was real. Do not misunderstand was not an easy choice. But God's spirit guided me back to the right answer, the right attitude.

So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:19

For whatever reason, God chose to allow the suffering that came that day. It was His choice. My choice was whether or not I would continue to commit myself to a God who had always been faithful and good. Your choice, whatever your situation, is the same. Choose wisely.


Michele Jenkins said...

It's interesting that you mentioned that about a friend divorcing. I went through my divorce the year before Sarah Ellen died. I actually did compare my experience to yours - thinking about- would I rather someone be on this earth and choose to leave me- or would I rather it just not be a choice? I decided that both suck when it's happening, and neither seem good, and you feel so helpless in either situation. I also learned that sometimes things happen and there might not be an obvious reason at first but you have to trust that God knows what He's doing.

roland said...

Three great points...thanks for sharing..I will forward them to my kids as their weekly life lesson!


Anonymous said...

interesting that you too, struggled. We were told after a tragedy in our life that if we struggled then we weren't really Christians.