My name is Whit and this is a true story.
One night while driving home on a deserted country road, I noticed a car partially in the ditch with its flashers on. My rescue instincts kicked in, having been an EMT years ago. Though I didn’t have a flashlight, I approached the car on foot to investigate, calling 911 to report the accident while I walked through the dark.
“There’s a wrecked car out here on Mason Road. Someone may have been thrown from it, because I yelled and there was no response,” I explained. “I scanned the area and saw no one around, but haven’t looked inside the car yet.” After hanging up, I immediately called my wife, Janelle, to tell her I would be late getting home.
Janelle became distraught at the news. She told me that our son James had just left the house with a friend five minutes earlier. “Please check and see if the car is a black Honda and call me back as soon as you know,” she begged.
It was now after 11:00 p.m., and I prayed as I approached the car again. “Please, God, don’t let it be James’ friends’ car.” When I saw the “H” on the wheel, I knew it was the same car. I searched the empty front seat, then reached into the back seat. I caught hold of a pants leg, pulled it closer, and stared straight at my son’s shoe. As I checked James’ pulse and forced open his lifeless eyes, I spoke comforting words to him in case he was able to hear. I now had to make the hardest call of my life.
“Janelle,” Whit said into the cell phone, “it’s James. He’s in the back seat of the car, but I don’t know if he’s alive or not. The EMS and fire trucks have just arrived, so I’ll call you right back.”
I knew in my heart James was dead, but couldn’t bring myself to speak my fears to Janelle. “Why, God? Why are you taking my only son from me? You want my attention? You have it. You have my complete, undivided attention. What do you want?” I asked God.
Amidst all the commotion around me, I knew God’s presence and touch. I looked up, and words as powerful as if they were screamed from heaven said, “ You ARE NOT in control. I AM. Sit back and watch my hand at work.”
I felt so guilty that I couldn’t cry or fall apart. Somehow, God was strengthening me, though I couldn’t fathom in a million years what God was about to do. The peace that passes all understanding became tangible to me in that moment.
My son’s life, and death, had a purpose. It may not have been the purpose James wanted or I wanted, but it accomplished what God wanted it to accomplish.
First, God brought my wife, two daughters, and me closer together than we had ever been. He caused us to hunger for what the Bible taught about heaven. I would not trade anything for the strengthened relationships with my family and God.
Second, I found God’s arms big enough to hold us in our sorrow. God’s Comforter bore us up when we couldn’t exist in our own strength. He sent earthly arms to hold us, too, and we are grateful for our church family and friends.
Last and best of all, some of James’ friends became believers at James’ funeral and now attend church with us. Surely there can be no greater purpose than to change someone’s eternal destiny.
God gives us many precious gifts in life. Some we are allowed to enjoy for a long time and others only briefly. My son was definitely one of those gifts and I will always cherish his memory. More importantly, I know his life and death had a purpose, one that proved all-important for us. The arms that now embrace James are the same arms that hold us now, and I continue trusting Him to fulfill His purpose in all of our lives.
This story is true, though the real names have been changed.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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