(Posted September 4th 2018 @ 3:35 PM by: Melody Reever)
Ever go on a long trip and end up somewhere totally unexpected—a place you didn’t even know existed? Life can be like that! We can be traveling along on our intended route, our secure destinations in mind, when God redirects the whole map, GPS, and Bluetooth commands. Such was our life’s journey redirected, when we lost our only child and amazing daughter, Ember Michelle Meadows. (Her name still makes me smile!) There was zero preparation for our assignment to this place of profound loss, the deepest of oceans where feet may fail. It seems as if we were flipped into unknown waters without ever hearing that infamous word, “recalculating.” Had terrorists hijacked our lives with evil agendas? Who else would take you to such a terrifying place? Surely not our good, good Father.
My amazing husband, Mike, has the habit of driving literally hundreds of miles on his specially chosen prayer roads daily, ever seeking the God of his heart. When Ember was suddenly snatched from us in a most freakish of auto accidents, Mike hit those well-worn prayer roads, asking, “God, talk to my heart. Give me understanding.” God responded. Mike began to record the thoughts God poured into his wide-open spirit.
First, “There was a ‘perfect storm’ Ember was heading into. Taking her now was best.” As direct and shocking as those first words were, they gave us our first real sense of comfort. God’s profound, unfathomable gift of “understanding” was immeasurable—understanding that penetrated and soothed two violently broken hearts. Ember was on fire for God now, but the future, how could we know? We did know that God never has to explain what He does; it’s His choice how much He reveals. So we grasped that first word from God with a tenacious grip. It was a tranquilizing oil, ushering in a measure of peace. And on some deep subterranean level, I was learning, gently learning, that peace can carry a shattered heart.
Second, God gave the word “bridges.” Within only days of our loss, we were in awe and surprise at some of the dramatic bridges that God began building to reconnect us to those from whom we had been separated. These bridges connected us not only to loved ones, but also connected others to God. Through unimaginable tragedy, God’s supernatural bridges altered lives, and again redirected the routes and destinations for many. Family members came back to God. A new family is in our church, as Linda, a displaced Apostolic shared, “I thought, If God would take Ember, I knew I’d better get right,”—and she did. In only a few weeks, we counted several lives radically detoured on their journeys, and they testified that it was because of our girl. The Road Rearranger was surprising us all with dramatic dealings. A niece and grand-niece came back to God, and three families moved (temporarily) to Columbus to help us with our ever-so-empty arms.
I think I’ve slowly gleaned, as “a bruised reed” (like the song says) that “the goodness of the Lord is always true!” He’s a profoundly good, good Father—period! There are no shadows of darkness in Him. His tender consoling and comforting ways were unmatched and unequalled in ministering to us; and He did it in venues hard to describe. So much of the delicate work of healing in our hearts was done by His hand, but through His body, the church. Our anguished spirits were tended to by many. We were lifted above violent waves by cards, calls, gifts, and listening ears. The tiniest of things meant so much: a word, a picture, a memory, an appreciation. His people and their prayer overwhelmingly sustained us.
Jerry Settser in his book A Grace Disguised shares how he processed the loss of his wife, his mother, and one daughter in a tragic car accident. Three years after the accident, he was still continuously tormented by the highway scene: the ambulances, sirens, and the bodies lying on the road. It was all so agonizing. Then God gave him a dream. In it he viewed the accident, but this time God let him see it from Heaven’s point of view. He saw angels all over the road, tenderly ministering to each of his loved ones, under God’s brightest of lights. God’s presence was there, orchestrating every detail. When he awoke, his memories and perspective were totally changed. Torment was gone. He learned afresh—and I have too—that God is not just present at death scenes. He and his angels are ever with us, ministering daily, though we may not sense or know. His presence is hidden within His breathtaking grace—a grace disguised.
I wonder if we’re ever really supposed to arrive at “our desired, chosen spots”? As the Master Pilot and Supreme Director of our lives, destinations are ultimately His. We can make our plans and believe for the best, but He decrees and decides.
As I now walk under a broader sense of God’s peace, I fear interruptions less. Detours, road blocks, turn-arounds, and recalculations hold a different meaning. Our hearts will probably always carry this vast, deep void that is somehow unutterable. But hidden also within those recessed arenas where the void rests is a solid-rock comprehension: He’s a good, good Father, His breathtaking grace is always hovering, and my God, my loving heavenly Papa, is more than enough!
Cindy Meadows and husband, Mike, pastor in Galloway, Ohio. She currently serves as a Ladies Ministries sectional leader in the Ohio District. Her passions include prayer, teaching, a love for the incredible holiness message, and, of course, laughter!