It’s my dad. Static crackles on the line. They must be out driving somewhere. But then it settles, and his words, they come clear, “Their daughter was killed today in a head-on collision.”
Oh, God. Oh, please. “No!” I say it harsh. Say it sharp. “No! That’s terrible.”
I’m pushing it away, this horrid news, with words, heart full, and exclamation marks. “That’s terrible! No! No!”
There are no details yet; these awful words that cut and tear are enough just now. And hanging up the phone, I start to weep.
Growing up on the plains where Indians once roamed, where wheat grows all golden in fields, the ground cracks dry in the summer sun, and the wind scorches, howls o’er the land. The wind, relentless, ever blowing, runs vaporous fingers through the grain, and the fields of gold swell and roll as very waves of the endless sea.
It was there in Kansas where Great-grandfather had come as a baby, tucked inside a covered wagon, that we’d gather at the farm. Whooping and hollering, we’d join our passel of cousins and get right down to business. As grownups visited indoors, drinking Grandma’s sweet tea, our merry band would take to the lanes and trails that wound about the place.
Old, abandoned machinery and cars, a chicken coop, a barn and an old “round top” afforded many delightful hiding places, and when darkness fell, we’d play Kick the Can. Silence would fall in the night as eager hiders ran, taking up their positions. Suddenly, a shout, the sound of pounding feet and a mighty “whang.” Once more, pounding feet, and the night would fall silent again.
I thought of the farm. Thought of cousins, our games. Remembered squabbling, the boys-against-girls. The loud disagreements that somehow resolved for we were, in the end, tied by blood. Bound in love, history woven. We were cousins for always.
We were family.
We couldn’t know, years ago as we played on the farm, eating cookies and drinking that sweet tea. We couldn’t have guessed at our future. Couldn’t know all the joy. Couldn’t have conceived that there’d be such sorrow.
Happy and carefree, running those lanes, we didn’t know about fire and testing. That jobs could be lost. That loved ones could stab. That two of us (two!) would lose children.
I’m weeping, now, and Mister’s embracing, for the loss and the pain of another. Of this one that I’m bound to by history, by blood; of this cousin who’s just lost her daughter.
Cousins. Family. Shared memories, and hearts…
What we couldn’t have known also was this one true thing–that God’s grace is ever sufficient. That He has a plan. That God’s hard at work. That He can bring “great” out of “terrible.”
For God loves redemption. How He longs to redeem, and His purposes toward us are good. He parents in love, and the hard things bring fruit if we press in and say, “No matter what.”
No matter what, I will trust. No matter what, I believe. “Though He slay me, I still will choose faith.”
In this sharp and painful place, here’s what I know now; that all things work together for good. If we love the Lord and we know that we’re called, then good will come out of our trouble.
I know, too, that His love never changes. That His love’s ever steady. That it’s lavished on us in good times and bad. For here, too, His word is faithful and true, and He loves us, no matter what.
Oh, how Father loves the heart that can say, “Still, I will trust. I still believe, for I know that You have a plan. I will rest in Your love for I am your child, and I trust you. No matter what.”
To my cousin, Andrea, and to her family; to Allyson’s sister and brothers; and to her grandmas and grandpas, both sides, prayers of comfort and blessing over you. For the heart-deep assurance that you have His love and that His word is true, that all things do work for our good.
No matter what.
You are loved.