Looking through the postcards on the rack, Paul reflected on the events of a day just a short time ago.
“Paul, this is Betty, Brent’s mother. Have you seen him? He is missing this morning and his car is gone. We thought he may have decided to come to see you.”
“No, I haven’t seen him or heard from him since the day after he came home from the hospital. Do you want me to come over and help you look for him?”
“No, I think he’s probably okay. He and Karla had a good talk last night and she and the children are going to move back in and they are going to give their marriage another try. She said he appeared happier than she has seen him for a long time. You are the first person I thought to contact. I’ll continue to call around,” said Betty.
“Okay. Please let me know when you find him. I’ll be home today and will be glad to come over if you need anything,” Paul replied.
“Thanks Paul. You have always been such a good friend to Brent. We will let you know. Please pray.”
“I will, Betty,” Paul assured her. “Bye.”
He had prayed for Brent through the day. Although he was concerned, he remained hopeful that all would be okay. Having waited for several hours, he remembered the relief he felt when he heard the phone ring that evening – that is, until he answered the call. Yes, they had found Brent, but they had found him too late. On that sunny Saturday in July, just outside of the woods, his wounded body laid in a pool of crimson. Death, by his own hand, had consumed him that morning. Only the lonely shell of a man remained.
A shocking wave of grief flooded over Paul. He felt he would drown in his own tears, choking on his overwhelming sadness. In the midst of confusion and agony, Paul implored, “Lord, why? Why Brent? Why my best friend? Why didn’t he call me? What could I have said to him when I saw him that could have prevented this? If I had said the right thing, this wouldn’t have happened. He slipped through my fingers, Lord. And now it’s over, it’s final; there’s no bringing him back.”
The sense of a strong, steady hand on his shoulders gave Paul just enough wherewithal to listen as the only One who could reassure him began to speak. “Paul, you are not responsible for Brent’s choice. That is a burden of guilt you do not deserve to bear. You were a good friend to him. No one can ever take away your memories of him; keep them alive in your heart. I will walk with you through this painful time. He is with Me now. I know you feel he has slipped through your fingers, but I assure you that he did not slip through Mine.”
Paul could not remember the details of the first few days without his beloved friend, except for the pain he felt. While realizing it would take time to grieve the loss of one so close to him and to accept the unanswered questions of his death, he knew he would endure. Knowing he would not slip through God’s fingers, he began to move forward with his life in the strength of the Lord. Though he hesitated to go through with his vacation plans, he knew there was nothing more he could do for Brent and that staying home would not bring him back to life. Still, his heart ached as he looked at the postcards on the rack, knowing he would not be sending one to Brent this year.
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