The Lightning Checks Back In!
My thoughts were spurred (Does that surprise you?) after a friend sent me an email the other day quoting a verse that I've often quoted myself. He wrote:
"How great is our God
- beyond our understanding!
The number of His years
is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water, which distills as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how He spreads out the clouds, how He thunders from His pavilion?
See how He scatters His lightning about Him, bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way He governs the nations and provides food in abundance.
He fills His hands with lightning, and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach."
These verses are found in Job 36, and it's the Lord Himself that is speaking. The one that grabbed and held my attention is the one that spoke of the lightning, "He fills His hands with lightning, and commands it to strike its mark."
Two chapters past that one (in 38:35, the Lord is still questioning) is a particular verse that has been another favorite of mine that goes right along with this one. God asks Job, "Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, "Here we are?""
Because of my fondness of the picture that my imagination of those verses paints I've quoted those verses often to others and even to God in my prayers. I love the thought of it. I love its picture. Can you just imagine with me the lightning sent on its way and checking back in with God after it’s hit the mark that it was commanded to?
Wonder what the voice of the lightning that speaks to God sounds like?
After years of such fondness, several years ago, there were several deaths within just a couple of days of each other in my state. Three different people - in three different places - at three different times - on three different days were struck and killed by lightning in Alabama not so far from where I live.
Do you remember that?
They all bothered me tremendously and hit me so hard, because I knew (and had loved) those verses for so long. Its impact hurt! But one in particular hit me harder than the other two, and I've never been able to forget it.
The child was a son of a couple that were alumni of the same college that my husband and I attended. I've never met them, and don't know them; they were several years behind us in college. We'd come and gone before they'd ever gotten there. They came and finished (I suppose) and left and married and moved further north in Alabama than we live. The father became a minister at a church there and from what I understand he hadn't been there very long when lightning struck his world and changed his life forever. To my knowledge I've never seen them, nor have I ever talked to them, and they've never even heard of me; but I've prayed for them more times than I can count since the day that I got the email reporting their horror and requesting me to. I did, and I have continued to do so over the years since that horrific day that their tragedy struck them. I've cried so many tears for them from the thought of their hurt. Their only child, a three year old little boy, was playing outside beneath a tree in their backyard... when lightning struck the tree that he stood near, then reached out its spark to strike the child close to it, and it left their only son dead in the split second that it took for the lightning to hit it.
Can you even imagine their horror?
How do you deal with that?
I had heard those verses that I quoted above long ago, and I loved them from the time that I heard them. Like I said earlier, those verses have been favorites of mine for years. I can't even tell you how many times I've said something about them to people and so many times I've quoted them to God in my prayers. And then here, on this day, I found out that that same lightning that He sends and "commands to strike its mark" and that same lightning that "checks (back) in with Him" struck someone's three year old child… and took him to his death! That "same lightning that checks (back) in with You, Lord," I'd pray, "that same lightning, Lord, left a mom and dad childless!"
How do you deal with that?
Even in the very minute that I was told what had happened and was asked to pray I had no doubt that every single bit of this could and would be used for God's Glory,... but even in knowing that I thought, "Lord, they're Yours! That couple belongs to You! They're serving and living for You. That same lightning that checks back in with You, Lord, killed their son. How do You explain that? How might I explain that? If the parents are familiar with those same verses of Yours, Lord, what do they make of that? Did it strike its mark, Lord? Is that where You sent it? What did it say when it checked backed in with You then?"
These were the questions I pondered over and over again with my Lord while asking Him to help that mom and that dad. I hurt for those parents.... obviously for their pain, but also because I knew these verses,.... and knowing what they said I ached with a hurt that wondered how do they deal with their hurt and with knowing what those verses say?
It was a long time... I can't remember how long now, but a long time. I often would go outside beneath His stars and pray to Him, thinking of them still, praying for them still, and still saying while I prayed, "that same lightning that checks back in with You, Lord! That same lightning...."
Then, like I said, after it had been a while (and now I can't remember how exactly it happened) I knew I had my answer, for I felt Him tell me this: "Sharon, that same lightning that checks back in with Me brought that child Home to Me when I told it and it was time to."
Whooosh! I had my answer!
For Acts 17:26 tells us that He determines the exact times for us to be born and the exact places where we should live. Jeremiah 29:11 lets us know that each of our lives has a purpose, God tells us that He knows the plans He has for us.... There's no doubt in my mind that that child's life had purpose! And I suppose that this child's purpose in his earthly skin was done. He came to do what God had planned for him to, and when it was done, God took Him Home.
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that:
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born,... and a time to die,
a time to plant... and a time to uproot,
a time to kill... and a time to heal,
a time to tear down... and a time to build,
a time to weep... and a time to laugh
a time to mourn... and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones... and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace... and a time to refrain,
a time to search... and a time to give up,
a time to keep... and a time to throw away,
a time to tear... and a time to mend,
a time to be silent... and a time to speak.
a time to love... and a time to hate,
a time for war... and a time for peace.
...He (God) has made everything beautiful.... in its time.
He has set eternity in the hearts of men;
yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
Whoa, I so love that Truth!
We cannot "fathom"… (Fathom - understand, work out, figure out, comprehend, grasp, think through, detect, guess.) We cannot "fathom" what God has done… (Done - deeded, worked, His undertaking, what He's pursuing, the thing that He's working, what He has made, what He's preparing, what He's producing.) We cannot "fathom" what He has done from beginning to end in this child's life. And He makes EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.
There's much life to be found in any death. I wonder how many lives that this child helped to give life to? I wonder how many were touched because of him? How many are closer to God from his death? How many lives were affected by his? How many people saw Jesus because of the affect he (his life and his death) had on those that loved him?
The next verse that follows the one above that I mentioned from Acts 17:26 says, ""He (God) determined the exact times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out to Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us."
Did you see God's reason?
"God did this SO THAT men would seek Him and perhaps reach out to Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us"?
Wonder how many sought God... because of the life and death of that dear child? Wonder how many people reached out to Him, because of that precious 3 year old? Wonder how many found God, because of their search? Wonder how many saw God's strength through the weakness of his parent's hurt? Wonder how many more lives this preacher and his wife will touch, because of where they've been? Think of how much more compassion they'll have, and how many more they'll encourage along the way, because others that are hurting will think that if they made it through their pain, well then maybe there's hope for them too?
Did this child have a purpose?
Oh my goodness, of course he did! More than we'll ever think of or be able to imagine! God tells us,
"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your love, O Lord, endures forever -
do not abandon the works of Your hands."
"being confident of this,
that He that began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of the Christ Jesus."
"Will fulfill" in Psalm 138:8 is gamar in the Hebrew, meaning that God will complete, end, perform, perfect. It's God Himself that completes (fulfills, performs, perfects, ends) our purpose (for after all, it's the purpose He's made us for). He takes the matter into His Own hands and carries it through to completion.
Philippians tells us that we can be confident of it! God is the One that "began the good work" in us! And God is the One that will carry it through until done.
What makes us think that our work is finished and nullified upon our deaths?... for we're told that HE will carry it through to its finish UNTIL the day of Christ Jesus. Just because the breath stopped blowing inside the case of this 3-year old's skin doesn't mean his work is done! For I believe that his work still carries on, with the Lord Himself fulfilling its purpose, carrying it on to completion. Three years................. yet still he lives in the lives of so many. Even those that never even knew him while he walked here upon this earth. It wasn't until the lightning struck and God took Him Home that I was privileged to meet him. I can testify to that myself, for though I never knew this child's name, his 'purpose' lives on and his life has affected mine! May those parents that bore him be mightily blessed for the 'purpose' that God birthed to this earth through them! And may the Lord Himself (and we KNOW that He will!) carry that work to completion!
Oh, how I love the LORD whose love endures forever!
I cannot imagine losing my son! But think of this. Try seeing it through the eyes of a boy, a young one at that. Going Home to God on a bolt of lightning might be an awesome thing! That sweet child feels NO PAIN! The ones that bear the hurt are the ones that are left behind. Hurting's hard. But it's often in our suffering that us (and others too) can see Jesus the loudest. It would indeed be a story to tell from the lips of a three year old though, huh? Can't you just hear him tell it? And can't you see his excitement as he one day might relate it back to his earthly mom and dad when he welcomes them there!