October 8, 2012
Shattered Dreams (part 1)
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands,” (Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV).
Friend to Friend
My husband and I were reveling in our time with our good friends from our college days, Larry and Cynthia Price. It had been almost a year since our last visit and I was hungry to hear of the latest family news about their children, Daniel, Julianna, and Laura Beth. While the four adults feasted on grilled teriyaki chicken, steamy baked potatoes, tossed salad with home grown sliced tomatoes, the kids ran out the door to attend the Friday night high school football game. For over an hour conversation and sweet tea flowed like a mountain stream. We were just finishing the last bites of chocolate silk pie when our laughter was interrupted by the ringing phone.
“Hello,” Cynthia answered.
I could only hear one side of the conversation, but I could tell something was terribly amiss.
“Daniel, calm down! What’s wrong? Talk slower,” she urged. “Oh God, no,” Cynthia gasped. “OK, Daniel. I’ll meet you at the hospital.”
An ashen Cynthia turned to her husband and could barely force the words out of her mouth. “Larry, Daniel said that Will took a bad hit at the football game. He went in for a tackle. They hit. Will stood up. Fell on the ground. And he never got back up. They are taking him to the hospital in Clinton.”
“Cynthia, you two go on to meet them. Don’t even think twice about us,” I assured her. “I’ll clean up and take any calls that come in.”
“Are you sure?” she asked. “I hate to leave you here.”
“Absolutely, now scoot!”
Before they left, we held hands and prayed for Will, his mother Luanne, his dad, Bob, and his two brothers and little sister who were all at the game.
Larry and Cynthia drove down their mile long driveway and my mind rushed back to another time fourteen years earlier when I first met Luanne Johnson. She was Cynthia’s best friend in the sleepy rural town of Rose Hill, NC, four hours from our home. She had just given birth to her third child, Bailey. Bailey was born with a hole in his heart. When he was seven months old, Luanne kissed his cheek as the doctors and nurses rolled him into the operating room to attempt to correct the defect. The physicians assured the Johnson’s that the procedure had a 98% success rate and there was no cause for alarm. While Bailey came through the surgery just fine, he developed complications a few days later and had to go back in for a second procedure. This operation was not successful. Bailey died on the operating table. Bailey died on his brother Will’s third birthday. Now this.
I pictured Luanne riding in the ambulance or perhaps following in a car close behind the blaring sirens. I recalled the words I had penned in another book, “There is an inexplicable bond that exists between a mother and her child. Even though the umbilical cord is severed in the delivery room, a cord of love connects them for the rest of their lives.” Luanne already had one deposit in heaven. The thought of a second was almost too painful to imagine.
Oh, he’ll be OK, I thought. I’d grown up in a small North Carolina town where high school football was a part of life for the entire community. When I was elementary school age, I went to Friday night games and ran around under the bleachers paying very little attention to the pigskin on the field. When I was a teenager, I was a cheerleader and knew just enough to know which cheers to yell when. My father-in-law had been a coach. Boys were constantly, “down on the play.” But they always got up. Didn’t they?
I’m not sure how much time passed, but Cynthia’s phone call startled me back to reality.
“Sharon, this is Cynthia. Will didn’t make it.”
“What do you mean ‘didn’t make it?’” I asked.
“Will died before he even got to the hospital,” she said.
Somehow the news spread through the quiet little town that Will Johnson had been hurt at the football game. All through the night I fielded calls that came to the Price’s home. Cynthia was Luanne’s best friend and Daniel had been Will’s.
The next day, the news reported the story. Will had gone in to make a tackle and when he hit the boy carrying the ball, his opponent’s helmet crashed into Will’s chest. On impact, Will’s heart had a concussion. He stood up and said, “Coach, I think I need to come out.” Then he collapsed and his heart never beat again.
I was just a visitor from 200 miles away. I didn’t know most of these people but one thing was clear. What affected one, affected them all. A mother’s dreams had been shattered and the entire town felt her pain.
Shattered dreams are a part of life. Children die, husbands leave, jobs are lost, cancer tests come back positive, proposals are rejected, teenagers rebel, houses burn, terrorists attack, and the list goes on. Part of the pain is the feeling that God has forgotten us, grown deaf to our cries, or lost our address. Zion cried, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:14). David lamented, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent” (Psalm 22: 1, 2). Even Jesus called out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) I have cried, “Where are you, God. How could you do this to me? Have you forgotten all about me?” Then He answers, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15).
Ah, the string around His finger, the brand on his palm, the scar on His heart. No, He doesn’t forget. Join me next time as we continue looking at Shattered Dreams and the Restorer of Broken Dreams.
Dear Father, sometimes I don’t understand why things happen. Why would a tsunami take hundreds of lives? Why would a mother bury her child? But this one thing I do know. You are always good and Your ways are always good. Help me to trust Your heart when I don’t see Your hand. Help me to trust You in the dark.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Think of a time when you felt as though God had deserted you. How did He assure you that He hadn’t?
Perhaps you still feel like He has forgotten you? That’s OK to admit. I have felt that way at times myself. However, what does the truth of Isaiah 49:15 tell us?
The next time you are wondering where God is, recite His promise to you found in Hebrews 13:5. If you believe that truth today, click over to my blog page and leave a comment that says, “I know God will never leave me.” I’ve also posted a picture of precious Will.
More From the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion was taken from my book, 5 Dreams of Every Woman – and How God Longs to Fulfill Them. Friend, God wants to restore your broken dreams. Grab hold of His hand and go to a place you thought you’d never find…the dream God had planned all along.
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