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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Crucible

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.

I have mentioned before the recliner that I was forced to sleep in after the accident. I have told others many times that this recliner became a crucible for my faith. The lengthy discussions between God and I were brutally honest. I went back to everything I had ever been taught, questioned every belief that I had ever held. I cried so much at night that I remember joking with a friend that my recliner was getting a little "sloshy" from the tears.

The funny thing about the questions were the ways God chose to answer them. When I challenged God about His goodness, He never showed me a special verse, He just sent a friend to spend the day with me. When I questioned the reality of Heaven, I wasn't given some special revelation. I just knew in my heart that Sarah and Josh were at peace. When I questioned how fair God was, He didn't answer me with a booming voice. He simply reminded me of the Cross that Jesus bore for me. When I wondered if He had completely forgotten me and my family, inevitably there was a knock on the door from one of the dozens of families in our community who provided meals for us (for four months my family never had to cook one supper).

Looking back, I believe God was all around me, patiently waiting to show me what He was up to and where He would show up next. He had a plan all along. Don't get me wrong. I don't believe God caused that accident. But I do believe that, when an all-knowing God saw what was about to happen to my family, He immediately put another plan into place to bring good from evil (Romans 8:28) and make sure His ultimate plans would succeed.

Fast forward three months after the accident. It's a summer night in South Georgia. I'm sitting in my recliner, looking out the window onto the field behind my house. The full moon is so brilliant it seems like dawn outside. God and I are in the midst of a deep conversation about His goodness and His plan. I have debated. I have cried. I have protested. In the midst of it all, I felt the clearest evidence of God's presence. And I heard Him say--not in an audible voice but one that was clear enough to me--"I have never left you, Ridley. I'm still right here."

It was there that I made this promise to God..."I'll go anywhere and do anything you ask me to do as long as you promise to go with me." Be careful what you promise God.

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