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, crushed…still 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"