1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

ACTS - A Faithful Witness

It was a devastating phone call.

My youngest son called one day after school.

"Mom, I just heard someone say that Cory was in a car accident…and he’s dead."

I held my phone…stunned, speechless.

"Are you sure?" I said.

"I don’t know, Mom, can you find out?"

And so, I began a series of phone calls, finally reaching a school counselor who was a friend. And yes…

…it was true.

Numb, I got in my car to go pick up my son. I wasn’t sure how to break the news to him. Cory had been a close friend of my son’s since 3rd grade. He was a bright, shining light. The sort of person who made EVERYONE feel like they were his best friend. He was smart, and funny, and a delight.

As I approached the intersection that led into my son’s high school, there was Cory’s truck, upside down, crushedstill sitting where it had come to rest after flipping over three times. And there was his gray sweatshirt, just a few feet from a shattered driver’s side window.

I picked up my son, who was more silent and unapproachable than I had ever seen him before.

He looked at the scene of the accident as we drove past – he looked away.

When we got home, calls started coming in, and we were informed that there was going to be a gathering that evening at a local church – just for people to come together.

Of course, we decided to go…

I remember showing up, a bit shell-shocked – as we wandered around the room. Dazed by our joint sorrow, everyone mostly just hugged and cried – there weren’t really any words to say.

I remember finally seeing Cory’s father across the room – my son’s teacher in 5th grade.

And he was smiling…

He was talking to people, hugging them, offering them comfort through his own tears – asking others if they were OK.

He assured person after person that everything was going to be all right – Cory was with the Lord.

I remember speaking to him, though I can’t remember what we said – I just remember him telling my son how much Cory loved him, and what a good friend he had been. I remember him saying, "You’ll see him again…"

It was quite a testimony.

A few days later, there was a candlelight service at the high school. A couple of days later, a funeral.

Over 1,000 people attended the funeral. The HUGE church sanctuary was filled to overflowing. We watched slides of Cory, heard person after person speak about him, signed his surfboard, cried and laughed…

But, the most important thing of all? The Word of the Lord went out that day, and hundreds heard Cory and his family’s testimony.

Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" reminded me of this time in our life.

"So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening." (Acts 16:24-25)

On a terrible and sudden, ordinary day, Cory’s family was slapped into the "inner dungeon" of their lives. They found themselves in the darkest night of their souls. They were literally imprisoned by the worst this life has to offer – death. Overwhelmed by grief, crippled by sadness – yes, they were.

But, like Paul and Silas, they chose to pray and sing to God they looked to the only Hope they could cling to. They offered honor to a God that they knew loved Cory – a God whom they believed was GOOD.

They did not allow the "stocks" of grief and bitterness to overcome them. Their spirits rose above their imprisonment –

And all the while, people were watching them, and listening…

You never know who’s looking at you – especially when you find yourself walking through the "valley of the shadow of death." It is often at your darkest hour, at your weakest moment – at the absolute lowest time of discouragement – that is when people are paying the most attention to you.

Wondering how you’ll react…what you’ll say…what you’ll do.

Will you be praying and singing like Paul and Silas? Like Cory’s family?

No matter what the circumstances, we should praise God. Others may come to Christ because of our example. The Bible tells us that the jailer and his family were all brought to the Lord because of the witness of Paul and Silas.

I can only imagine the hearts that were reached through the faithful witness of a grieving family – who chose to sing through tragedy…

…and love a God whom they KNEW loved them.

(I am linked up today with Spiritual Sundays, hosted by Charlotte and Ginger!)

"When in doubt, search God out"


  1. And yet again, I'm glad to have taken the time to come here this morning. I think that your Bible Pick'ems are my favorites. I had been really missing out.

    Love this. I can relate to this on a small (very very small in comparison) level when I think of losing my dad or my husband losing his job.

    I pray that I could have the grace of Cory's parents should I stand in their shoes. What an awesome, awesome, testimony.

  2. Blessings Sharon, Such beautiful strength and witness in the midst of such overwhelming grief and awesome presence of God's grace!

    You have beautifully shared and recorded a tribute of encouragement to others as well as preserving this moment for your son of his best friend Cory and his family. You captured the essence of the shock yet power in the praise.

    I like Debbie, would pray to have the grace of God to stand and give God the glory in a rightful testimony and witness of our HOPE!

    This was a difficult post for me to read for I have not been that "faithful" of a witness in the times I have faced death of my loved ones or most recently a suicide of a friend. I agree with everything that you wrote and love your tenderness but the truth of the matter is though I believe this is how we should respond or react or witness with strength and singing praises, the REAL truth is I have not... I do not... (you know what I mean, "do as I say... not as I do")
    because sadly I don't believe that as others looked at me, they saw what I believe in my composure, my words, my actions, even my blogs.
    I was numb, in shock, and all the stages of grief. I may personally overcome but I was weak.
    I have been privileged to witness like you, people who uphold the truth of God in their sorrow and at times of heaviness. When my dad died, though it was a surprise and I had to quickly get home from MX, I think it was the only time, I came home and witnessed in faith, I gave a 'talk' at the funeral of who my dad was.
    At my youngest brother's, I did a reading he wanted from Kahil Gibran and then without being planned a read from the prophet Isaiah. But the next day, I fell apart and started out to the cemetery but never arrived. I even tried calling my brother's phone number. Totally lost it. With my mom, I was OK because I knew she would no longer be suffering but the next Mother's Day, I lost it. I guess what I'm saying even though these are high ideals, often when 'the rubber meets the road', I (we) don't stand as we'd like so others see JESUS!

    It's beautiful to read an awesome testimony of when someone is ABLE. In Christ, not in or of ourselves, we are ABLE (Romans 8:37).

    May God give you, your son and this family His continual strength, Comfort and peace in the rough road and memories of Cory.

    Love and peace,

  3. Sharon - this is a beautiful testimony of faith and trust in Christ when everything seems to be "falling apart". My husband and I attended the funeral of a young woman some years ago who died from injuries sustained in a car accident. I was amazed at how they demonstrated strength and faith during this time.

    Like Peggy, I'm afraid I don't always hold up in times of sorrow. But what a witness this family was to many who attended their sons funeral. Who knows how many people may have accepted Christ because of their testimony.

    Great post!

  4. Yes Sharon a marvellous testimony, thank you for sharing.

  5. Thankful for Cory's life and witness in death. Thank you for sharing his story with us...


  6. This testimony but tears in my eyes. I think as Christians people are watching us a little closer during times like this.
    God Bless,

  7. To lose a child has to be the hardest thing. but to know that he's with God helps so much. I feel sad that this had to happen but really glad to know Cory's in heaven and his parent's have that to hold onto. Sometimes I think....I shouldn't hold my kids too tight. They belong to Him not me. I need to trust more..that He's always in control no matter what. Thanks for this Sharon. ☺

  8. Hi Sharon,

    Thank you for sharing this testimony not only of Cory, but that of his family as well. I have often been reminded of the strength and grace the Lord dispensed when my younger brother was murdered. Although I've never known that measure of grief, I watched my mother endure with grace in the aftermath.

    You're right, "You never know who’s looking at you – especially when you find yourself walking through the 'valley of the shadow of death.' It is often at your darkest hour, at your weakest moment – at the absolute lowest time of discouragement – that is when people are paying the most attention to you."

    Blessings and peace.


  9. Debbie - Thanks for stopping by, friend. I think both of the examples you have shared are indeed similar. Any type of loss is devastating. Only God can hold us up.

    Peggy - You have been so honest. By no means, did I intend to be "preachy" - I don't think I would have been a faithful witness. But when I see others who have suffered devastating loss, and yet they manage to hold on to their faith - that helps me believe that God is there, no matter what. I am SO sorry to hear about the recent loss of your friend - I can't imagine the horror of that. This world is very sad - and while we live in it, we mourn. I'm just so glad that the story did not end in a tomb...HE is risen.

    Joan - Yes, Cory's family was a wonderful testimony to many. And I am sure that many came to know Jesus through their witness - in spite of their terrible tragedy. Cory's birthday was just a little over a week ago - I think of him often, and I am so glad that I will be able to see him again someday!

    Nita - Thank you. This whole thing made such an impression on my entire family. We will always remember Cory until we see him again.

    Elaine - Thank you for stopping by. This wasn't an "easy" read - and it brought back a lot of painful memories. But, as YOU are teaching me, God is there in the midst of pain.

    Ginger - WELCOME! I'm so glad you stopped by. I pray that I am being a good reflection of God - especially when I least feel like it. People are watching, all the time.

    Sarah - Oh, how I struggle with yielding my sons to the Lord. I know that they're "on loan" to me - they really belong to God. But, it's so hard to let go. I'm with you - I have to learn to trust more. I deal with fear and anxiety so much - in my head I totally believe God is in control. Sometimes, my heart has much more trouble with that.

    MTJ - Oh, I'm so sorry that your family had to bear this terrible tragedy. It sounds like your mother was upheld by God in a supernatural way. I truly felt that Cory's family was given a super measure of God's grace and strength - it went beyond what they could have done on their own. Sounds like that happened in your family. May God give me what I need to reflect Him always - even when I'm at my lowest.


  10. Thank you Sharon for sharing. When my wife died a couple years ago, her memorial service at our Church was much like the one you spoke. The pastor gave a message of salvation and many unbelievers heard including my wife's brother, who got saved that day. Seeing that plus other people responding favorably to the message brought joy to my aching heart. Blessings.

  11. What a wonderful testimony of the faith of Cory's parents. This is another example of how good can come from terrible circumstances. Thank you for sharing this heart-felt post.

  12. Ken - Thank you for sharing about your wife. How sorry I am to hear of your tragedy - but what an unbelievable story of hope you have given. I can only imagine how happy your wife was at seeing her brother come "into the Kingdom." We will never fully understand God's ways in this life - but we can hold on to His sure salvation.

    Charlotte - WELCOME! Thanks for stopping by. Cory's family was supernaturally upheld through this terrible time - and I will never forget their witness. Only God can bring hope out of such sadness - and turn a death into a HOMECOMING!!


  13. Sharon you will never know how much your post blessed me today! Written with such sensitivity and grace, Cory's family must be so honoured with your tribute and the fruit which must surely have come from his untimely death.

    Praise God His light always shines, even in the darkest dungeon.

    Dorothy :)

  14. Dorothy - Thank you. Cory's birthday was just a couple of weeks ago. He would have been 24. There isn't a week that goes by that I don't think of him. His family is doing great, and they continue to shine for the Lord. I just wonder how many people will be standing in Heaven because of the testimony of Cory's life and his family's grace and courage.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your kind comments.


  15. Hi Sharon,

    Wow what a powerful story. I feel so sad for Cory's family, but as you say they were strong witnesses of our Lord by how they handled his death, their grief. I'm speechless!


  16. Judy - Yes, they truly were pillars of faith - and they continue to be. The power of the Lord is strong - and I see it in them. The most important thing they teach me is that God loves us, and He is good, even in the midst of the worst things.


  17. This is so true Sharon, no matter what we go thru in this life, we should find grace to still be a light. when we go thru the water, God is with us; when we go thru the river, we don't drown; and when we go thru the fire,we are not burnt. May we always find grace in our wilderness to be a an encouragement to others:)

  18. So glad you shared this inspiring testimony and that I stopped in to read it...my eyes blurred and my heart was deeply touched.

  19. Toyin - I loved the Scripture verses that you alluded to - some of my favorites - because they acknowledge the deep waters, the tumultuous river, the scorching fire - but they promise deliverance. And they promise the constant and unchanging presence of God. What a wonder...

    Karen - Thanks for joining me on the "Pick 'Ems" journey! I know that you have experienced a recent death in your family - and so you know what this deep, deep valley feels like. I have been encouraged by your testimony, too. What would we do without the hope of Jesus? Praise the Lord, because of His merciful grace, we will never have to find out! We can just look forward to a wonderful homecoming!


  20. Hi Sharon, Thank you for sharing this story. It strikes my heart very deep as I laid my son to rest just 8 months ago and but for knowing he is with Jesus I wouldn't be here to have any zest for living. Blessings, Mollye

  21. Mollye - I'm so glad that you stopped by, and thanks for joining me on the journey. Words cannot adequately express my sadness at the loss of your son. It must leave such a hole in your heart and life. But praise God, Mollye - you have given the best testimony to the hope we have. And I know that many will be reached for Jesus because of you, and because of the life of your son. I will look forward to meeting him in Heaven!



"So I have been greatly encouraged in the midst of my troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives me new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How I thank God for you!"
(1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!