The Good Life!

Another tragedy of my younger years was the unexpected death of my father, who was killed in a boating accident when I was 21.  I last saw him the Saturday before his death as we said our good-byes and I departed for my honeymoon.  I was married the day before.  I’ll never forget the feeling inside when I saw his best friend and my mother, his ex-wife, coming toward me upon my return at the airport, 2.5 hours from where they lived.  I knew immediately that something was wrong.  As they approached me, I simply said, “How bad is it?”.  They pulled me aside, my back against a wall, and told me he was gone.  I fell to the ground instantly.  The ride home was like a daze.  Empty, scared, frazzled, and helpless.  The tears didn’t stop for months.

As for my marriage….it was over before it started.  I had known he wasn’t right for me and even tried to back out of the wedding.  It’s a long story, but I’ll save it for later.  Now that my dad was dead, the one who taught me very little, but constantly preached to live for the moment, my husband’s belongings might as well have been tossed out the door immediately.  I stuck it out for a year as I worked through the swirl of emotion and chaos that unraveled my life as I had known it.

This story became an all too fresh reflection this weekend as I sat through Sunday service and we prayed over the father of four beautiful children, plus foster kids.  Two of his children were present in the service.  Our pastor and assistant pastor walked us through prayer and a beautiful sermon on strength of faith.  Even though the service was part of a series that has been planned for some time, it was incomprehensible to us just how much we would all need to hear their words at this very moment.  As usual, God’s timing is more significant than our own.  This family is likely a step in the process of solidifying all of our belief in the Lord, and his mighty power to transform ANY situation through the power of prayer.  For this family, it means bringing their father and husband and our friend out of a coma, to stop the bleeding on his brain, to heal his body and resurrect him to his original state or better!  It is a situation that needs God’s hands and one that requires more than just prayer.  It requires deep, unrelenting, steadfast faith behind the prayer.  It’s precisely the position God seeks to jolt us from any temptation that we can “make things happen” all on our own, that we have control.  Although they don’t seem it at the time, these big problems that require big answers are the breeding ground for deeper faith that leads to freedom of our souls.  And, best of all, it glorifies God because without him, we have nothing.  No hope.  Just the chance that if we cross our fingers we’ll get lucky.  With him, and faith filled prayer, we have everything!

I wish I had had that faith when my father passed.  Oh how very different things may have unfolded.  But, the reality is I was alone, within myself.  I didn’t rely on God, but of my own accord.  The results?  I got fired for stealing at a bank.  Ha!  Remember, my now husband told me that I was the most naive person he had ever met, and I was, so the idea of stealing from a bank would literally scare my pants off!  But, the money was gone and there was no trail so I got the boot.  I dropped out of UW-Madison where I likely would have graduated with honors.  I moved in with my brother who wasn’t too keen on me as a person at the time, and let me know it.  I divorced my then husband, started a new relationship on bad terms, and got into four car accidents in a 30 day timeframe.  To say the least, I needed God!  And how well did I deal with my Dad’s death?  I have never been back to his grave and I try not to think about it.  My true feelings are buried in a container in my heart somewhere I suspect.

This brings me back to Sunday’s service.  I cried like a baby several times.  I cried again this morning just chatting with a friend about it.  I wasn’t nearly as sad over my own dad and his memories, but for the family before me, knowing the tremendous pain that results from said circumstances.  But listen, that was only a small fraction of the emotions pushing so many tears from my eyes.  The other part was the beauty of God and his work on the people of our community.  I will never be able to fully convey the experience through words, but anyone present would tell you the power of the holy spirit was felt like a weighty fog penetrating every last centimeter of space.  As we worshiped, the two children approached our stage and just like that, God’s people responded.  One by one, they left their seats and wrapped these kids in love and prayer – deep, faith-filled prayer no doubt.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.  There is no replacement for God and his believers.  They will wrap you tight in their arms, like the arms of God, and pray for you in time of need or in time of great joy!  Had I only understood that with my own fathers passing.

Where are you at today in your life?  Are you seeking the Lord’s wisdom in every corner of your life?  Do you pray?  Is your prayer filled with expectation because you are filled with faith that he will answer?  Have you found a church home full of people that lift your faith to new levels?  If not, do it!  Just do it!  This is the cornerstone of joy, peace, and unrelenting love!  This is the foundation to “the good life”!

Many, many prayers to the Yost family!  We are all praying hard!

Tonya Stuart




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