Breakfast with friends! Good food (gravy with biscuits) and good fellowship. What more could a man ask for (except maybe the Sixers winning the championship but that is never going to happen). Sorry, I digress. Anyway, it’s a beautiful Monday morning, and we’re talking about the children’s musical which was just performed at church, we’re talking about COVID, and we’re talking about theology. That sounds like a good list of subjects which would interest everyone at that table. But then the question was asked of a gentleman in the group: “Do you have kids?”. Now that sounds like a simple question, almost like a conversation starter. The only problem was, it wasn’t. That question prompted an answer which involved heartache, sadness, fears, and a whole lot of trusting God’s goodness.
The man began his answer with “I have a daughter in heaven”. Hearing those words, I could feel my tear ducts already filling up. I had previously heard this story once before but every time I hear it, I am deeply moved for this man and his wife. He proceeded to tell us about his daughter Glenda and his son-in-law, about how they met at a Bible College out in Oregon, fell in love, and got married. Then one day, along with their teenage daughter, they decided to take a vacation to where they had met, along Oregon’s coastline. They were looking forward to time on the beach: reading, enjoying the sun, and bike riding. One day while they were riding their bikes to the beach, they were heading to Hug Point. At this popular spot, a short distance from where they were staying, a devastating thing happened to Glenda. Her bike hit an uneven spot and suddenly, she was sliding on the macadam. Her head took the major part of the fall with her face badly bruised and scraped. They rushed her to the local clinic for treatment, but the clinic said there wasn’t much they could do for Glenda. The clinic had limited resources and so they recommended she be transported to a hospital in Portland. It was there, after a 2-month vigil, that Glenda entered into the presence of Jesus.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Glenda felt that God had something special for her in the near future, but really didn’t know what. A few weeks before their trip out west, Glenda had asked two of her prayer partners if they would pray for her while she was on vacation. Of course, they agreed. Little did she know, that instead of returning to Lancaster County, she would be entering the gates of heaven. She would be meeting her Savior and worshipping him for all of eternity. What a huge surprise for Glenda, what a joy. Glenda knew God had something special for her, but she never imagined it would be a face-to-face encounter.
From a human perspective it wasn’t a day of joy. It wasn’t a time of rejoicing and celebrating. It hurt badly then, and it still hurts today. But as I look at this her parents and how they have handled the loss of their only child, I am reminded of what David said in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” This is a couple that has found comfort in knowing that they will see their daughter again, and in the meantime, they want to serve Jesus Christ. They want to continue following in the same path which they taught their own daughter, to love and to serve their Savior.
To experience the loss of a child is devastating. To experience the loss of anyone that you love can shatter your heart. It affected me deeply to hear this testimony from a fellow believer who loves Jesus. He is a man of wisdom and patience and humility. He continues to leave his mark on everyone he meets, including me. And so, as you go through this day, don’t dwell on those who have gone on before you, but encourage others to know and follow Jesus! Share your testimonies. Make this a day of joy! And don’t forget……biscuits and gravy!