When I accepted Christ as my personal Savior at the age of 17 I had no idea what events were ahead of me that would shape my life forever. I grew up in a family of 4 kids and two wonderful parents. My parents decided to have four children in 5 years (my poor mom). Being close in age to my brother and sisters we played together, fought with each other, and loved each other more than anything. As I headed to college, I followed my sister to a Christian college in San Diego, California. What a blessed life I had.
During my sophomore year my life was about to change. By this time my sister had just graduated and took a job as a stewardess with Pacific Southwest Airlines so she could see the world before embarking on her teaching career. Her life and faith were inspirational to me as her little brother. One day, while sitting in chapel, the speaker was handed a note and was informed that a small private plane had hit a commercial plane and both crashed near downtown San Diego – no survivors!! The lump in my throat grew as I waited for the news that my sister, Lynn, was the stewardess on that plane. If not for my family, my coach, my teammates, my friends and my teachers, I don’t know how I would have managed my life going forward. Knowing that God allowed tragedies like this to happen in our lives to build our faith was a difficult way to accomplish His plans for my life.
After a year of transitioning to life without my sister, my life started to get back to normal, or should I say a “new” normal. I met my wife in college and we were married the year after graduation. After a few years we had a beautiful daughter and soon after an amazing son. We lived in Seattle at the time and my parents lived in Yakima. This particular year it was our turn to host our parents for Thanksgiving. After the holiday we hugged my parents goodbye and started our family tradition of preparing for Christmas. That Saturday we headed to the tree farm to select the perfect tree. Apple cider, hay rides, laughter, and Christmas cheer were all a part of our traditions. As we arrived home from the farm, we realized that we had company in our driveway. There was a Sheriff waiting there. He informed us that my parents had been in a tragic head on collision and had lost their lives. Was this even possible?!! First my sister and now my parents? What was God wanting from me? First a plane crash and now a major car accident. Again, this is where family, friends, and our church friends really came to our rescue.
I am writing about these tragedies to tell you that God cares about you through even the toughest of situations. He doesn’t leave you alone to handle your pain but instead equips you through your experiences to be a light for others who may experience similar life challenges.
God promises to use our experiences to shine a ray of hope to a hurting world. I have been asked if I can fly in a commercial plane or drive in the winter with all that has happened in my life and my only response is “God is bigger than that.” He will take away the fear, the pain, and the loss to allow you to be all that He wants you to be. I choose to allow that ray of hope to shine as brightly as God intended because His hope will never disappoint.
As my mother always said: “Be patient, God isn’t finished with you yet. Don’t give up and keep your eyes squarely on Him.”
The following verses were a comfort for me in those difficult times in my life. God can and will turn our trials into hope.
Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”