Not quite a year ago, the weather was nice, Malory was finishing off her LPN training, Tara and Preston were settling in to their new townhouse in Tualatin. Life was drifting along as it should, as we'd hoped and planned and dreamed and even prayed it would, but that's not how it turned out. In a single heartbeat...at the end of a heartbeat all of our frail, finite, human plans came to an end forever.
As a parent the thought that our eldest daughter, Tara, was married to a wonderful, responsible and loving young man was a great comfort. It's not that our daughter was 'hard to marry off' and that some blind fellow had finally come along and scooped her up, it was that the young man who came into her life was just so right for her and she for him....a perfect match. We always felt that she was in such good hands with Preston Clay Newby.
God knew this as well and throughout their six short years together, Tara taught Preston about life beyond books and study and work and he in turn taught her the things of self-discipline and a deeper faith and what it is to live in pursuit of Godliness.
On the night of September 15th, I had come home from work, grabbed a bite to eat and dashed off to get my hair done. I was excited to see Tara, Preston and my precious grandson, Jacob the next afternoon when they would arrive from Portland, Oregon. I busied myself around the house getting their room ready and thought of the upcoming week. Tired and satisfied that the house was as good as it was going to get, I climbed into bed and began to drift off.
The phone rang...that awful sound you dread to hear so late at night. It was Tara telling me that Preston had been hit by a car and to call his parents. I made the despairing call, tried to calm their worst fears and told them that I would call them back as soon as I talked to Tara again. I dialed Tara's cell again and as she tried to explain what had happened, I heard a paramedic's voice in the background say, "I'm sorry, Ma'am, he's gone."
This couldn't be happening; it's not the way we'd planned it. As I tried to make sense of what I had just heard, as I cried out to God to bring him back, Tara said over the phone, "It's okay, Mom, he's dancing with Jesus." Yes, some would put it down to the fact that she was in shock, but there was a peace and a calm assurance in her voice, not in keeping with what she'd just gone through, that I know could only have come from the presence of God in her...words that brought me back to reality.....the striking reality that if Preston was really gone from this earth, he was at that very moment, actually in the presence of Jesus. Still, that didn't change the harsh fact that Tara stood alone on the side of the highway and we couldn't get to her fast enough.
Some would question the reality of God at this point. Others may wonder if through some fault of our own, God was punishing us...those thoughts do tend to go through our minds. For whatever reason God chose to call Preston home that night, I am forever grateful that God had prepared me for this crisis weeks before.
I had been listening to teaching on the Sovereignty of God. I learned that if God is surprised by events taking place on this earth, then He ceases to be the omnicient - He ceases to be the all-knowing God and He isn't in control. There is nothing that surprises Him and nothing that He hasn't ordained.
The night before the accident, I was listening to Todd Friel talking on this subject and he said, "Christian, tragedy is going to strike. Don't think you can avoid it and when it does, you had better know what you believe about the soverienty of God so that you can trust Him and rest in Him and even praise Him through it all."
I shut off my Ipod and the tears began to flow. I got on my knees and prayed to God. I acknowledged that tragedy had never struck our family, but that if it did, I would continue to trust in Him, to praise Him and to look to Him because He is God and He is in control. I remember individually committing each member of our family to Him and said that if He would take any of them, I would still praise Him...I would still trust Him. God was close to me in that time of prayer and I felt a blessed assurance as I settled into bed that night.
The next night, we received Tara's call and as I drove down to Portland through the night, although the tears flowed and the grief was intense, I was overwhelmed with a peace that really does transcend all of our earthly understanding. Tara was not alone on the side of that unforgiving stretch of highway, God was with her and Micah and Jacob... and God was still in control and I could praise Him and even thank Him for whatever it was He was doing in our lives.
Do you understand the Sovereignty of God? Do you know full well that nothing surprises or shocks Him; that He has seen the end from the beginning and in spite of all our earthly plans, His plans will always trump ours. If you know this, when tragedy strikes, you will continue not only to walk with Him in faith, look forward to what He will do through and beyond that valley, but you will continue to praise Him and His peace will cover you.
Isaiah 45:5-7 I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I form the light and create darkness; I, the LORD, do all these things.
God is good and worthy of all praise.