When I was a small child, the third in a family with four children, we went to church most Sundays until the little country church near our house closed. I remember my mom’s family as being the type that was always fighting about something, while my dad’s family was quite loving and always happy to get together. I always wanted to grow up and be more like my dad’s family than my mom’s family.
When I was in first grade I became close friends with a girl whose family was quite religious. Her family attended church at least three times a week. When we were in fourth grade the church she attended was holding a revival and she invited our family to come to church on that Sunday morning. My dad was working, my mom didn’t drive at the time, so one of my friend’s parents came to pick us up and take the five of us to church. That one invitation was all it took to get us started going to church on a regular basis. Dad would take us to church, drop us off, and come back to get us when he wasn’t working. When he was working, my friend’s family would come and get us and take us home.
One Sunday morning, when we had been married a little over three years, my husband was at church and I was at home with our two-year old daughter. I got a phone call from my sister that would change my life forever. She told me that my dad had been burned at work and he would be taken to the nearest hospital. I waited nervously for my husband to get home so we could go to the hospital. When we got to the hospital, which was almost an hour from our house, we learned that my dad had been flown by life flight to the burn unit at OSU. We were told that there were three men who had been burned, but Dad was in the worst condition. Over 95% of his body had been burned. When we finally made the three and a half hour drive to Columbus, we learned terrible news from the doctor. If my dad were to live at all, he would have to endure much pain in the process of his healing. It would be at least three months before he would even know whether or not he would live.
With learning that, I sincerely prayed to God, for the first time in a very long time. Knowing how hard it would be for my dad to just lay in the hospital, so far away from the farm that he loved. I prayed that if God was going to take him from us that He would do it sooner and not later. You see, my dad had never been admitted to a hospital before in his life. I also knew that if he lived he would probably never again be able to do the things that made him who he was.
My step-grandmother’s minister lived in Columbus and came to the hospital to pray with our family. Through his words that comforted us in our grief, we developed a bond with this preacher. My prayers to God were answered. Dad did not have to go through any more pain in this life. My dad passed away about 24 hours after that terrible explosion that rocked our lives. Soon we found ourselves planning a funeral. We could only think of one person to preach at Dad’s services. We asked the preacher who had come to the hospital to pray with us.
I knew that I had to get my life right with God. I also knew that I had to make something good come from the tragedy of my dad’s death. So instead of blaming God for Dad’s death, I found myself drawn closer to Him and wanting to make Him a real part of my life. I knew that I would have to go back to what I truly believed. The Sunday after Dad’s funeral, I went back to the church that I had started to attend when I was in fourth grade. I then felt like I was really home. It was almost like I had never left. I found comfort in God’s word and soon publicly rededicated my life to Jesus.
Now, almost 28 years later, I am still a member of that little church in the country.
Even though my dad’s death was horrible, I wish that I would have come back to God sooner than later.
His death probably saved my life. If my dad had not been killed so tragically, I don’t know if I would have come back to God.
Donna is a retired school teacher from Ohio who is great with kids. I always see her smiling. She is an amazing grandmother to her grand kids and cherishes time spent with them. I have known Donna and her husband since 2004 and have enjoyed our talks. You can e-mail Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Suffering and tragedy drag us to the cross.
We can’t help but pray.
Donna’s statement is profound and I had to read it over and over to truly grasp what she was conveying, “I wish that I would have come back to God sooner than later.”
It took this terribly sad event in her life to pull Donna to the cross. It was then, she realized what she had been missing. Relief. Fulfillment. Comfort. Rest.
So, what is holding you back from a fulfilling relationship with God?
God wants to have a meaningful relationship with you.
On your death-bed, will you regret putting off your relationship with God?
Donna challenges us to come back to God sooner than later.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28
Thank you Donna for sharing your story!