No, God, Not This!! (Part 1)

23 02 2014

It was 30 years ago this month that I received one of the most devastating phone calls of my life.  It was from a cousin in my birth Imagestate of West Virginia; “Johnny, there’s been a car accident and Pearl is hurt bad, you need to come right away!”  Pearl, Great Aunt Pearl was the greatest person in my life; she had raised my mother who I loved dearly, but possessed some shortcomings both physically and mentally.  What mom was not equipped to give maternally, Pearl more than made up for in my life and I loved her as dearly as my mother.

Throwing some clothes in a duffle, making a call to work and kissing my wife and children goodbye, I set off to Ohio to pick up mom and head south. Reaching mom’s place in 2 hours (which is generally a 3-hour drive), we then headed down the highway at speeds between 90 and 100 mph.  I believe God knew if He didn’t slow me down there was going to be another bad accident. Somewhere around Canton, Ohio the serpentine belt on the motor broke and we had to get a motel until morning before we could get the car fixed.  I must have laid awake most of that night thinking back as far into my childhood as I could and with every memory Pearl was there.  She meant the world to me; how would I get along if she wasn’t there anymore.  Less than 24 hours that chapter of my life would begin.  Reaching Bluefield, West Virginia the next day we went directly to the hospital where all my extended family had gathered.  Her injuries from the accident were massive and even though the doctors and nurses did all they could, the end result was inevitable; one hour after our arrival my beloved Aunt Pearl was gone.

I won’t go fully into what the next few years were like, mainly because it would too lengthy, and truthfully it’s not easy, yet to this day, to go back to that moment.  I will say that I did experience great depression that affected everything about me down to my very soul, and I became very angry, especially with God.  “God you know how much she meant to me, how much I needed and loved her.  She didn’t even get to see my newest son.  How could you take her from me like this?!!  Over the course of time, things went from bad to worse and I made decisions that nearly destroyed my family financially as well as not being the leader I needed to be. Anger and relational distance became part of my emotional makeup and had it not been for the care and love of others during my distress I dare to think where I would be today.  One person posed questions and even answers to me that went like this, “Why are you so sad, do you believe she gone forever and you’ll never see her again?  Doesn’t the Bible teach us that we will be together with the Lord?  If you believe Pearl is in Heaven, do you think she would want to come back here again?  The bible tells us Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; do you believe that or not?  You say you loved your Pearl and your Lord, right, and you know they love you, right?  So do you think either wants to see you so sad?  In Psalms isn’t it written, Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. And may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”  The final question that was posed to me was, “You say your Pearl taught you a lot about life, love and the Lord; is this how you’re going to honor her memory, by continuing to grieve and keep all those lessons to yourself, or will you take the riches she gave you and share them with others?”  Hmm, I believe they call moments like this where the rubber meets the road, and in this case, in Jesus name!

It didn’t happen overnight, but I came to realize this is all part of a great plan, God’s plan. Maybe I don’t understand always and maybe I don’t always like it, but it is still part of God’s plan for each of us.  Whether we prefer not to talk about it, the facts are that we were made to be on this earth for just a moment in time.  For some that moment is long, for others not so.  The question then comes down to what do we do with the time we have here and then, what’s next?

Well, the first I feel can be summed up like this; “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.  Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”  Charles Spurgeon

And then there’s “This is what the past is for!  Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” Corrie ten Boom

God put an example in my life in the form of Pearl, she taught me how to live and how to love, not only others but God himself. For the most part she was an uneducated woman by the world’s standards, but what she learned along the course of life was invaluable. God prepared her for the tough job of teaching a young renegade of a boy all she knew, knowing someday he would learn some of life’s most valuable lessons from her and even pass those lessons on to others, just like what I’m doing here today.

The second question, what’s next is the harder of the two.  Well for my dear Aunt and for me as well many others, it really isn’t. The answer can be found in a book we call the Bible,  There you find words such as “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  And “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.”

Those gems and many more have softened that mighty blow of losing someone so dear to me.  Pearl is in Heaven, her work here on earth was completed and now she’s happy eternally.  It’s what I hold on to, it’s what I believe with every fiber of life and it’s what takes the “No God, not this!” and makes it “Thank you God for how my life was blessed by you having Pearl there to teach and love like she did, awesome!!  Thank you for having her there to prepare me to be a “Traveler of the Rock Road!”  I pray that if I’m called home tomorrow, perhaps someone will say I helped them along the way to see life and love–in you.

Part One completed, see you next week!!





2 responses

24 02 2014
Jeff Bonnell

John I can relate to this a lot ! thank you

24 02 2014

Blessings to you Brother-Man!

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