Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Day That Changed Everything

My sister, brothers, dad and I in fall 1994
The new sermon series at SOCC made me think about the one day, the span of 24 hours, where my whole world changed. You see, it was 14 years ago today that my mom woke me up early, whispered what I didn’t want to hear into my ear and drove me 2 hours to Kalamazoo, Michigan. In that 24 hours, I walked into a hospital room that was – crazy – with activity. Bells, whistles, warnings, buzzers and more were all going off. I’m still convinced that every single thing that COULD make noise in that room was making noise. Soon, the noises were silent.

In that 24 hours, I walked up to the hospital bed and smiled down at the man lying there. I wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked at my mom and stepmom standing together. I held his hand. I nodded. My stepmom nodded, as well. Quietly, a nurse turned off the machine. I hoped against all hope as he took one, two, three labored breaths; then he was still. As I collapsed onto him his chest, I couldn’t believe he was gone. I was 17 and my dad was dead.

It’s amazing to me now, 14 years later, how much I still remember about that day. I remember the way the room smelled, the tears, the way his hands were bloated and his skin was a little yellow. I remember running from the room and burying my head in my hands. I remember my mom and stepmom standing beside each other, holding each other up, the fights and frustrations and hurts of the past forgotten. I remember falling asleep crying in my mom’s lap. I remember wanting nothing more than to get back to Albion, back to home, almost like I was running away.

I remember getting home and calling some friends from the youth group to tell them what had happened. They were at the drive-in about ½ an hour away. I remember wanting to get out of my house and just going for a drive. I remember the entire youth group showing up on the road as I was leaving town. I remember my friend Ben jumping in my car and telling me I wasn’t going anywhere alone. I remember screaming, crying and trying to pretend everything was ok all at the same time.

Just two weeks prior to this tragedy, I had accepted the ‘reality’ of God, put my trust in Him and was already facing a huge test. I wanted so much not to believe; I wanted so much to be angry and hateful; but I wasn’t. I was tired. I was confused. I was broken. But I still wanted to believe more than anything in the world that God was real and that this pain had a purpose.

Even in my intense pain, I knew one thing: this was just one day, one page, one chapter in a bigger story.

Over the last 14 years, my dad has missed many important things in my life: he never saw me direct or star in a play. He never saw me graduate from high school or college. He never met a boyfriend, moved me into my first apartment or celebrated my first “real” job. He never gave his blessing to my engagement and he wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle when I married. He didn’t move the heavy furniture into our first house or laugh at all the puppy drama when we first got Madi. He never saw any of his kids grow up and he will never know our stories and who we have become.

I recently read a book called “The Aedyn Chronicles.” One line in particular stood out to me:
'...For there is a greater story - a deeper story. A story which rules all stories. And a story of which you are a part.'

That 24 hours forever changed my life, but it was up to me to choose whether or not I let that event define who I would be from that moment forward. Would that be my whole story, or was there a bigger story being told? I have found comfort in Scripture in the last 14 years, but one Psalm always reminds me that God is bigger than my circumstance, no matter how bad, stressful or dark any given 24 hours might be:

Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the LORD;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders You have done.
The things You planned for us
no one can recount to You;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears You have pierced
burnt offerings and sin offerings
You did not require.

Then I said, "Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do Your will, O my God;
Your law is within my heart."

I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as You know, O LORD.

I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of Your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal Your love and Your truth
from the great assembly.

Do not withhold Your mercy from me, O LORD;
may Your love and Your truth always protect me.

For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.

Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;
O LORD, come quickly to help me.

May all who seek to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.

May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"
be appalled at their own shame.

But may all who seek You
rejoice and be glad in You;
may those who love Your salvation always say,
"The LORD be exalted!"

Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.

May I always remember that, no matter how good or bad the current 24 hours is, they are nothing more than a stepping stone toward a greater purpose, a bigger God and a stronger faith.

0 Spout:

Post a Comment