One Year Ago

November 6, 2018

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That’s the way Charles Dickens started his book, A Tale of Two Cities. We all had to read that famous literary work in junior high back in the day.

If I would have written a book one year ago, it could have started that way. It was the best of times. Our daughter Sarah had found the love of her life, the young man for which we had prayed since she was born. We loved Nate as if he were our own son. They had dated for several years, with solid commitments to Christ. They both were called to and serving in ministry. They were coming to their wedding pure, and our entire extended family was ready to celebrate a godly wedding like only Christians can. Saturday was going to be perfect.

But it was the worst of times too, as we headed toward the weekend, the week that took an unbelievably tragic turn. Early Wednesday morning, our son Caleb was headed for work at NewPointe Coshocton when he rounded a curve on a winding back road and hit a 14-year-old Amish boy on a bicycle. The young man, Robert Yoder, was life-flighted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Despite all our prayers and hopes, Robert left this life for heaven after hours of surgery. Our hearts remain broken for his family, for Caleb, for ourselves. It’s a completely unfixable, broken-beyond-repair situation until heaven. In heaven, and only in heaven, will it ever make sense.

But on the one-year anniversary, we can look back and see that God has done more than we could imagine. My wife Patty wrote an update for our friends so you could know how awesome God is. Let me share it:

What we’ve learned and experienced in the past year:

1. There’s a grace from God that rises up in the midst of tragic circumstances and carries you through. The accident happened on a Wednesday, Sarah and Nate got married on Saturday, then we went to the funeral on Sunday. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows, all in a five-day span. I look back and know it was "only God." His grace held us together. That kind of grace only comes when you need it. We’ve experienced it, and it can't be explained. It came again this week as we approached the one-year anniversary of the accident.

2. God had His hand on Caleb the entire time and is still orchestrating things for Caleb’s good. From the very beginning, within a few minutes after the accident happened, a man who had accidentally killed his toddler son years ago was with Caleb supporting him at the scene. Another friend who had accidentally killed a person when he was 18 talked with Caleb when we got home. And late in the day another man who had accidentally killed his little son 30 years ago stopped by the house to talk and pray with Caleb. Before the day was out, three men had surrounded Caleb with their stories, so he would know he was not alone and others had experienced this too. These men and a counselor friend continue to meet with Caleb, and they have played a huge part in his ability to deal with the accident and heal.

3. Christ followers pray, and it can be felt! We felt it again this week as the one-year anniversary approached. The Yoders felt it too.

4. God has good things ahead for our two families. Getting together with them over the past year has been an incredible blessing. A horrible tragedy brought us together, and we always have to grieve that part and do some crying. But they are the most loving, forgiving, godly Amish family I’ve ever been around. We spend time laughing and telling stories, getting to know their friends and extended family. God is helping us all unbelievably. They invited us over on Thursday evening to spend the one-year anniversary with them and to grieve together. And the dad called Caleb earlier in the day to make sure he was doing okay. They are incredible, and we treasure their friendship.

5. There’s nothing too big for God to handle. Even after a horrible tragedy, He still has a perfect track record of supplying all the grace we need, bringing healing and wholeness, and orchestrating good things to come out of this. This isn’t heaven, and bad things happen, but there’s nothing He can’t carry us through.

We all still get ambushed by grief at times. It’s been a painful week, and both families will never be the same. But God is good. We’ve seen Him working and experienced His comfort. He’s faithful, and He’s bringing good things out of what Satan designed to destroy us. I believe we’re right in the middle of the story God is writing, and more good things are coming.

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Thanks be to God.