A Thief in the Night

It’s been three years.

I only just met you, but already knew so much about you from my church family. They told me story after story as we painted and cleaned up the home you would be moving into.

God called you all to do ministry with us in Marion, Oh. You sold your home in Virginia, left your job and packed up your little two year old for the long trip towards a new beginning.

The church rejoiced. I’d never seen our pastor and his family so excited (they watched you grow and saw you as their own daughter).

I honestly felt overshadowed by your brilliant light. That you would very quickly replace me in their hearts because of your history, your love, and your faith. But it was a selfish fear and I drove it away by pouring myself into servitude. Helping prepare the way for you to come and settle here.

I wanted to know you. To be your friend.

You were here only a short while. I met and played with your beautiful son. I laughed with your amazing husband. And I hugged you, in passing, as we hurried about one Sunday. I hope to get to know you more—there will be plenty of time for that. I thought as we smiled and went our own ways.

Things were looking up. God was with us and nothing could stop our momentum as a family of believers….until…

I climbed into my car after work, and heard my cell ring. I answered and it was my husband Aaron. With a heavy voice he told me that Rachel Sullivan was gone.

What? Who?

I couldn’t believe it. The world stopped, and I saw Isaac’s precious face and her husband Jared’s smile flash across my conscious.

“There was a car accident…” Aaron didn’t say much more because he had our pastor’s son with him.

I hung up the phone and for the first time in my life I screamed and punched the dash, cursing God. “F**! F**!” I yelled with everything inside of me.

I had to pull myself together, after all…I didn’t lose Rachel…my church family did. Those who knew her since she was a small child, those who laughed with her and spent hours in her company.

Our pastor’s kids wanted us, needed us…

They came over and we hugged for a long time, and we took them for a long walk. And I vowed I would try to fill the bottomless void Rachel left behind.

I never did come close.

The next few days were slow, and shock filled. Isaac didn’t know and didn’t understand.

My mom had him and the pastor’s daughters over to swim and we all smiled and played with him while I balled inside. “THIS IS NOT FAIR!”

God why did you allow this to happen? You called them here!! Are you not our protector? I thought you were good! That I could trust in you!

My resentment and distrust grew. My rage and brokenness remained even as everyone else picked up their lives and tried to move on in faith.

I comforted, I cried, I prayed…and Rachel still remained gone.

We drove all the way to Virginia to attend the funeral. It felt so wrong…Isaac was turning three…and his mommy was going to miss it, and all the birthdays after that.

I remember the happy pictures on the slideshows…I remember Jared. Alone and crying. Living the worst nightmare. And I remember sitting in silence with my church family as they played the song, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fall).”

Rachel always wanted to have a baby and Isaac was a dream come true. She loved being his mommy. She loved coffee and people (working at Starbucks-where she was headed before the car accident).

She was gentle and fun loving. She was faithful and a good friend. I know this because of all those her life touched. She had ministry dreams which her husband is now pursuing.

It was this that put a wedge between me and God. I pulled away from Him and began to doubt He was who He said He was.

I wish I could say that I have fully overcome or that I have the answer as to why this happened to those I love with all my heart. But I haven’t and I don’t.

Honestly, I have to learn to accept that I probably will never know the answer. I have to chose (just like with any tragedy, loss, hardship, and attack of the enemy) to still trust and to still believe regardless of what I see or feel.

The reality of God and His Word have to be more important than my own feelings and this world’s realities. Death is coming for all of us someday…young or old it will find us. This is a temporary plane—and so we must fix our eyes on eternal matters.

We’ll all see Rachel again. And what a glorious reunion that will be for everyone her life touched here.

The devil’s sole purpose is to make us forget who God is, who we are, and our authority to change our lives and those around us. I know that if we were to ask Rachel whom she loves and trusts—her answer would not have changed, even now.

If I don’t trust Him…who will I trust? Who has the power to save? Who is our only hope of salvation and restoration?

I’m beginning to realize how much I need God. Whether I live or die (to live is Christ to die is gain), I choose to believe in Him and trust Him to make all things new.

He is still my protector and shield. His plans for me are good. What happened to Rachel was not His will or His plan for her. But He has brought beauty from ashes…and her legacy lives on (still transforming lives and bringing hope).

Our church is as strong and united as ever! In our pressing onward God has poured out His goodness and blessings.

Life goes on.

I say all this because I know that we share this brokenness. Some hurt dealt us by the enemy. He is the one who robbed you like a thief in the night, he took from you what was not his to take.

Please hold on. Don’t give up on God or fall into the trap that says; “He isn’t good!” What do I know of goodness? What do I know of fairness? Fairness would have been for all of us to die for our sin instead of Jesus.

Doesn’t God deserve the chance to explain and answer your questions in Heaven someday? Hasn’t He done enough for you to deserve at least this?

Rachel may have died, but God blessed her with so much all the years before her death. Look at her son, her husband, the thousands who knew and loved her. I refuse to let her life be summed up into this one accident. Her memory deserves so much more.

I’ve made the decision to keep climbing. Keep pressing. Even if I’m bloodied and broken I am going to finish my race! And the devil can push, torment, and beat me all he wants, I’m not letting go of this ladder! I’m going to stand back up every time! Because I can’t go back to not knowing the truth. I can’t deny who I am and who God is! No one can rip this from me!

If I made a list of all the good things God had done for me, it would go on and on endlessly…and my list of all the bad things that seem to fill my mind so easily would be very very small.

Fight the good fight, run your race. Don’t be afraid of death but of a life/eternity without God. That is the final death the “real” death we can all easily avoid.

Love God and love people, and when it’s time to die—you won’t die. And your legacy of love will live on long after, paving the way to Christ’s return.

You, my brothers and sisters, have a bright future. Don’t ever forget it! Rachel was a window into the brightness of Heaven. Surround yourself with others who share that same Jesus light so you never forget what is waiting in Heaven and what you can release now.

Our time is short…make it count.

God bless each and every one of you. ❤️

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