My father, Ken, was a small business owner with his shop located three blocks from our home. My dad would walk to the shop every morning with his lunchbox, and made the trip home after closing up every evening. We could expect him about five minutes after he locked up. One day he didn’t come home.
So my mother and little brother, ten years old at the time, hopped in the car to go and check on him. What she found was a nightmare. My father had been robbed and shot multiple times by two teenagers. My sister and I waited for what it seemed like an eternity for our mother to come home…not knowing…nervously creating scary scenarios in our minds…but nothing could compare to the truth.
My mother, Jean, was about to put her faith into action in front of her children, and I will never forget the spiritual lessons I learned that day.
The first lesson I learned was that in great trial and suffering, we must WORSHIP. Please picture the scene in my living room as my mother gathered her chicks around her after she finally came home. In trying to perform CPR on my father, she was covered with the life blood of her husband. It was evidence of a woman, desperately willing the love of her life to live. It was at that moment she led her children in prayer. Scripture says that after Job got news of the death of all of his children that he fell to the ground in worship. Job 1:20. The bottom line is this. My mother was so used to worshiping God day in and day out, that when the day of evil arrived, she knew right what to do. I will ever, never forget her leading me to the throne of God on that day.
The second lesson I learned on that day was that when brutally wronged, we must FORGIVE. Even before the two teens were caught, she was feeling pity for them and urging her children to forgive. One boy was eighteen and tried as an adult, he was killed in a home invasion after he was released. The other boy was sixteen, just one year older than I was at the time. He served his sentence and was released. My mother was in grief for the parents of these boys, and for the boys themselves. Later in life she longed to find the younger boy and let him know he was forgiven, and to make sure he was right with God. Scripture says that you will be forgiven by God the exact same way that you show forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 So be generous.
The third lesson I learned from my mother is that even in tragedy we must be THANKFUL…thankful that my mother and brother were not in the shop at the moment Satan entered the teens…thankful that the robbery was over by the time they came to check on dad. I could have lived the rest of my life as an orphan. There is always something to be thankful for, you just need to look. Scripture say that thankfulness, along with your petitions and requests to God, bring about the peace that passes all understanding. Philippians 4:6-7
The fourth lesson I learned from my mother that day was to gain strength from the CHURCH. Scripture says that Jesus walks among the lampstands, the churches, and I can vouch for that. Revelation 2:1 My fifteen year old self saw Jesus send the beautiful bride of Christ to hold our hands, comfort us, feed us, pray with us, to mourn with us, and to be our family. Jesus was walking among His church that day and in the days that followed.
The last lesson I learned from that day was learned in hindsight…that ONE MOMENT of tragedy borne with the dignity and grace of the Spirit, could define your walk with God for the rest of your life, and that could just be the point. Go deep with me y’all… ONE MOMENT. Just think of the power behind that thought. Remember Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted Ebola while ministering in Africa? Kent never ceased giving honor to God during his trials. What about Steven, the first of Jesus’ followers to be killed? He steadfastly served God even as he was being stoned. On the other hand, I remember a funeral where the spouse of the deceased disparaged God because He didn’t behave as He was expected to during the illness of the loved one. ONE MOMENT… to keep in step with the Spirit or to not. If you are called by God to live though one moment of evil, like my mother, this moment just may define the rest of your life. Shine brightly for the world to see, because that just might be the point.
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