On wings of grace
By Christi Foster
The alarm had gone off, and I was waking from a peaceful
night’s sleep. The sound of the rain had encouraged me to linger a few minutes
too long, and now the rush was on. My husband, Steve,
routinely turned on the morning news as he prepared for work. But this
morning we were all running behind, and there wasn’t time.
I was busy making lunches and hurrying everyone out the
door. Christopher, our son who was 15, had just left to catch the bus.
Nannette, our youngest daughter, was 13 and homeschooled. Natahle, our
17-year-old daughter, was in a nearby town attending college. Our oldest son,
Craig, had just turned 21 two days prior and was engaged to
We had made plans to celebrate Craig’s birthday in the
evening. However, when we discovered we couldn’t reach him in the early
morning, things began to change. We immediately started to search for him to
make sure he was all right. It was just a short time before we learned he and two
of his close friends had been killed in a car accident the night before.
Without warning, we suddenly found ourselves on a detour, a journey down a dark
and lonely road.
celebrations had come to an abrupt halt, and dreams that were in the making were
suddenly shattered. The future that had looked so bright the day before was
utterly black. It was as though a bomb had exploded in the middle of our home,
leaving a trail of mangled lives behind.
But our home also began immediately to fill with loved ones
coming to comfort us in the midst of their own shock and grief. Tears flowed
abundantly and tender embraces reached out, wrapping their arms around our
broken hearts. Close friends and family immediately took over, answering
telephone calls, organizing food and helping us with necessary funeral
arrangements. Our home continued to be filled with people wanting to express
their sympathy and love.
God’s grace continued to be poured out in abundance as final
preparations for Craig’s visitation and funeral were made. We wanted this day
to reflect not only the goodness and gift of Craig’s life on this earth but
also to be an opportunity to share the hope God offers everyone through Jesus
Christ. Nearly 1,000 people attended his service, and many received salvation
from the invitation given at the close of the service.
Although friends and family had discovered a new hope
through Craig’s life and death, I felt my hope had vanished. Unable to focus on
the future, I was thrust into the dark valley of the shadow of death. Not only
was I living in grief from Craig’s death, I felt paralyzed as I watched my
family seemingly be swallowed up in their own private pain. I felt only anguish
and a sense of betrayal, unable to see the loving, faithful hand of a Sovereign
The first year was merely survival. As days and weeks
passed, sorrow and despair continued to hover over our home. Simple tasks
became insurmountable at times. Every thought was consumed with the loss of the
family we had been, and the hole created by Craig’s absence.
How many times had I questioned God, wondering what had
removed His protective hand from our family? In my mind, I continually replayed
the promises of God I had tried so diligently to live by and raise our children
in. Nothing made sense. Without realizing it, I had reduced life to an
equation, believing if I obeyed God, then He would bless … my way. I had failed
to factor in God’s grace and sovereignty.
While preparing Nannette’s history lesson one day, I found
myself rereading the same paragraph again and again, unable to comprehend
anything about the lesson. Instead, the haunting question of Craig’s loss
remained. Falling to my knees, I cried aloud, “Why?” In that moment, God began
to speak to my heart.
It wouldn’t make any difference what reason I gave; it
wouldn’t be good enough for you. You can’t understand the eighth-grade history
you are reading. How do you think you could fathom the scope and wisdom of My plan?
I knew He was right. There was no answer God could have
given me that my human mind could have understood and accepted. What He was
asking of me was no different than what He wanted all along: simple trust
— faith that would grow to be unshakable.
I had come to know Jesus Christ at an early age, but I had
only seen the Cross from a distance. I had only a
glimpse of the depth of my Savior’s love. Even so, I yearned for a deeper
understanding, wanting to know God more intimately as I grew into adulthood.
Never did I imagine the answer to my plea would lead me down the road of suffering,
struggling in my own Gethsemane to lay my treasure down, wrestling with the
very words I had read so many times in the familiar story: “Not my will, but
thine be done. … Into your hands I commit my Spirit.”
CHRISTI FOSTER is a freelance author and speaker who attends NorthPoint Church (AG) in Springfield, Mo.
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