Scott and I were sitting at a coffee shop this morning, enjoying fresh roasted java and I was sharing what little knowledge I’ve gained in using Twitter to develop a following for a blog. A quick glance at FriendFeed while I pointed out different social network applications and tools revealed a friends Facebook status that conveyed the need to “pray for the Powells”. We’ve got good friends named the Powell’s but it didn’t sink in that the prayer request was either for some tragedy or for that Powell family.
Caffeinated and nearly out of social networking tips, I decided to open up my work email. Scott and I were nearly wrapping up our Twitter time when another reference to the Powell family in my inbox caught my eye. I quickly clicked open the email and read with horror that the previous reference to the Powells in that Facebook status was indeed tragic and related to my friends. Their 17 yr old daughter, Nikki, was killed in a car accident late the night before. My heart sank. Tears filled my eyes. Could this be true? My eyes glanced over my unopened email list and at least three other emails contained various pieces of information regarding this tragedy, validating its reality.
It was just a couple of summers ago where Nikki and her sister Cheri spent the better part of the summer at our house enjoying time with our three children. Rocky and Kristi have become good friends of ours and we’ve enjoyed serving Christ together on staff at FamilyLife. Rocky reported to FamilyLife as a Field Rep about 1 year after we moved to Little Rock and began our journey in mission to the family. Rocky and his family moved from CA; we moved from MN. None of us would have surmised that a day like this would come for any of our children. But it did.
God makes it clear that He is the author of life and the director of our days. That truth is the ONLY thing that anyone can hang onto during a terribly tragic event like this. I can’t even begin to fathom what the Powell family is going through. With children at and near the same age as Nikki, I can only begin to explore the depth of pain that I might feel if I had received the news that Rocky and Kristy were given. Nikki was gone in the blink of an eye and the hearts of many have been broken.
Not only would this news be difficult if the family was together when hearing of it, but in this instance, Rocky was not even in town. He had been working an event the prior weekend and was awaiting another event this weekend. Imagine receiving that kind of news, hundreds of miles from home. He never got to say good bye. But then again, when something like this happens, no one did.
In some ways I can’t wait to see Rocky and Kristi and hug them with tears in my eyes. Condolences seem so empty. Yet, if it were me, I can only imagine that the love of friends and family would be fuel to light the dim recesses of my soul. God’s plans are not ours. Horrific accidents like this remind us of that truth. Events like this often spark the question about the apparent contradiction between our limited understanding of God’s goodness and the allowance of such a seemingly senseless tragedy. Where was God? Where He always is. Right in the middle of the activity.
You see, the only thing that makes ANY sense to me is to rest in the comfort of a good God who has now ushered Nikki into His presence. If God didn’t exist or if He was capricious or random, the argument or dilemma of His goodness in the middle of this tragedy should be questioned. However, God is neither random or capricious. Scripture reminds us that “no one knows the mind of the Lord or has ever been His counselor. None of us have ever given to God that He should repay us for from Him and to Him and through Him come all things”. To Him be the Glory, forever and ever. I guess it’s really during these moments where the rest of the world looks in on those who call themselves followers of Christ to see how they respond. Following Christ might seem vogue or convenient when the bank account is full, everyone in the family is happy and healthy and life is breezing along. What makes Christianity real is when our lives reflect in some capacity the essence of its paradox…dying so that we might live. Christ lived that way. He died on the Cross so that we might live in eternity.
Tonight and for the rest of their lives, the Powell family will grieve the loss of Nikki. The only solace they have, which has to be enough, is that they will one day rejoin her, restored to our pre-Adamic state-perfect before God. Until then, they will feel the pain of her loss. To a lesser extent so do we. So, until we meet you again in Eternity, Good-Bye, Nikki. We’ll miss you. Your life here was too short for us but just the right length for God.
If you don’t have the assurance that you would be ushered into heaven if what happened to Nikki were to happen to you, we’d love to be able to share how you can have that peace and knowledge beyond a shadow of a doubt. Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.