It's been 14 years. For me there was no drastic change 14 years ago, but for my husband, he experienced the greatest loss in his life. For me, when I met him, this was his reality: he didn't have a living father. Over time, we have been able to talk more about his dad and I have been able to more fully understand his loss and sadness he experienced and - in a very real way - still lives with today; and now I stand in awe of my husband's strength in having to say goodbye to such an incredible person in his life. And over the last 14 years his love for the the Lord has only grown and his trust in his sovereignty has deepened. That steadfastness is not easy to come by: to lose something so dear to your life and gain in your relationship with the one who took him; that is real faith. He has put this deepening faith in a way I could never articulate:
On May 19, 2004 my favorite person on the planet passed away. I received a call from my mother around 4:45 am informing me that my dad was “ok, but he had a heart attack in the middle of the night.” I was in Houston and my dad was traveling for work in California; in the blur of the moment, I rushed to the airport. I purchased a ticket to jump on the first flight I could to California. Before boarding, I received an update that he was at the hospital, alive and undergoing a heart procedure.
I spent the next 3 -4 hours on the flight praying. Pleading with God; begging the Lord to save my dad - and swearing that if he did so I would dedicate every morsel of energy to glorify Him until I died. When the plane landed I quickly headed towards the airport exit with the intent to take a cab to the hospital. While walking out I called my aunt (who just happen to be in California that week) for an update. She answered and delivered the devastating news to me that my dad did not make it.
I had just turned nineteen and was standing by a baggage claim carousel alone in Santa Ana, CA when I found out my dad was gone – and my prayers, I felt, went seemingly unanswered.
Fourteen years later, I have spent countless hours reflecting on that day and what it meant to my life. Those fourteen years for me were spent with numerous struggles. They were spent questioning aspects of life and death, faith, family, and even prayer. They were also spent with many joys and successes; leading me on a path that I am confident I never would have been set on had my dad not died that day. One irrefutable example, I know I would not have met my wife – who has in her own right saved and molded me in countless ways.
That day, God did hear my prayers. And God did answer my prayers. Only he did not answer according to my plan, he answered, as always according to His plan….and as always, it was good.
I miss my dad every day. To this day, if I had the choice I wouldn’t have had to spend those formative years of my life without his guidance, love, and direction. However, those years without him molded me into the Christian man, the Christian husband, and the Christian father I am today. And I know now that path was in God’s plan from the beginning.
I pray every day. I express to the Lord my hopes, fears, and thoughts. I spend time praising His name and giving thanks. I do so, however, with one very distinct difference from the boy on the plane that day. Now when I pray, it is with the assurance that God will hear my prayers. God will answer. It may not be according to my plan, but it will be according to His. And without a doubt, I will trust it and follow His will for me.
Often we cannot understand it right away (or even in our lifetime) and it can cut deep when God says "no" to our prayers, but it cannot stop us from trusting Him. His will is bigger than what we can see, it is for good...always; and my husband's roots in Christ eventually dug deeper through this trial in his life. Jesus was with my husband on that plane 14 years ago today, and has carried him every step he's taken thereafter.
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:17-18