Taken from the Heart beat of the Remnant
Let me share with you an awesome testimony of a tiny bit of what our God will do when we pray. Walk with me through the last six weeks of our lives before our son, Paul, age 17, died instantly in an auto accident, September 1, 2007. Although I had been praying earnestly for him for many months, six weeks before he died I was able to begin to pray with a few mothers who had a prayer burden for their children’s spiritual needs. Obeying His call to pray, and believing God’s presence to be in our midst, we prayed and God began work. Things for which I had been beseeching God for nine months, began to be answered. Truly our Father in Heaven hears the cry of His children when they come together in faith.
This little testimony covers a year’s time but focuses mainly on the six weeks from July 24 – September 1. We prayed and agonized and prayed some more. We surrendered Paul and ALL the details surrounding his lack of surrender to God. After all, God is the One who made the world and gave His Son to save us all. He is the One who calmed the storm and stilled the sea. He can do ANYTHING!! He could change our boy. Still we waited and prayed and sometimes struggled with loneliness and discouragement. As God taught us to trust Him in the middle of our trials, we began to know the peace that only comes through trust, the songs that are given in the night and the grace to live each day. I never understood that grace, until it was poured out. I did not know the extent of His tenderness, until He gave me, a weary, broken-hearted mother, a sweet assurance that He would draw my son to Himself. This assurance was born out of many hours of intercession. Of course I knew that God did not say when, or where, or how, but I learned to trust Him completely even in the dark.
The ensuing months of waiting and praying, and drawing very close to Paul, were a blessing to us, but very, very difficult. Paul’s heart was very soft toward the family. This was an answer to prayer. We had many, many special times, but always there were questions. When would we hear from the surrendered heart of our son? When would he say, “Yes,” to the Master? We kept on praying and waiting. Then July came and we saw Paul’s heart begin to open. He was just outside “the door” but not walking through it. About that time I began to pray with a few mothers who gather to entreat God for the salvation of their children, and to watch as God began to work.
First of all, Daniel and Timothy Smith, who Paul greatly loved and admired, came to our home on July 20 for three days. We had some really special discussions about Muslims and what they have to go through when they accept the Lord Jesus as their Savior and take their stand for the Lord. We listened to the testimony of a few young Muslims who gave up everything for Jesus Christ. Paul was very, very thoughtful in the next few days. The following weekend our family took a trip to Tennessee for the yearly Weaver family gathering. While we were there, God answered another of my prayers. (“God, please send someone else, besides us, to minister to him that he can open his heart to.”) That weekend God put a godly uncle in Paul’s path. Paul talked with his uncle for two hours about his heart, and his difficulty in finding his way to sweet fellowship with God. To our great joy his uncle described the talk as “delightful” and Paul said to me, “Mom, it was wonderful.” We did not stop praying! Over the next few weeks we watched him slowly unfolding, although he did not give us a definite word on what was happening. We felt a need to quietly pray and wait for God to do His work. One of the prayers I prayed during this time was, “Please, God, do a complete work. Do not let Paul rest until he is totally and completely yours.” Another prayer was. “God, you may have Paul in any way you choose. Here is my ‘Isaac’, only save his soul.”
Then on August 24th in the evening Myron and I had a very special time of talking and praying and laying down everything. With surrendered hearts we prayed together for God’s will and His way, committing Paul to God again, in an even deeper way than ever before. When we were finished praying, I felt so excited! I said, “I feel like something awesome is about to happen!” Myron agreed and we waited in anticipation to see how the answer would come.
The next morning our phone rang and it was our married daughter, Lisa Strubhar. She and Darren were planning to leave on a trip for Wyoming to visit Darren’s folks. Could they take Paul along? They would leave tomorrow, which was a Sunday evening. (Darren had seriously cut his hand and was off work for two weeks while the tendon healed.) We understood that they would be gone for 10 days. It was not a good time for Roger to have him go. The grass was as green as in May and he needed Paul to help with the lawn customers, but he bowed his heart to our desire and made arrangements to try to limp along without him. They left on Sunday night and began their happy journey, the dream of Paul’s, to go west, to see the mountains, the trees, the wildlife and to go camping! The plan in Darren’s heart was to touch Paul for the Master and to have extended time to share with his heart. We heard from our boy a few times, though I never actually got to talk to him myself. I prayed so much that he would surrender there, surrounded by the wonderful creation and be able to say, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” We had been telling him all along that that must be his response to His Father, just as Saul’s was on the Damascus road when the Lord spoke to him.
On Sunday of the next week, Roger realized that we had had a miscommunication and Paul would not be home until at least 4 days later than he expected. This posed a difficulty since it was Labor Day weekend and some of his clients had extra work that they wanted done for that weekend. He called and asked if someone could take Paul to the airport to fly home on Wednesday. This made difficulties for the families in Wyoming. They felt like Paul needed to stay, as some of the major activities had not been accomplished yet. Finally, Roger called back and released Paul to finish the trip. We did not know that we would never see him again!
The second week dawned and about Wednesday I lost my desperate prayer burden. I was upset with myself and wondered why. Was it that he had surrendered? Was I getting lazy in praying? Still, I prayed, but not with the desperation that I had had before. Joyce called Paul on Wednesday or Thursday, and wonder of wonders, she had good phone reception. He did not have time to talk long, but he said, “I have so much that I want to say but it will take too long. When I get home I will tell you everything!” He sounded so happy that Joyce was blessed and excited.
Then Friday night our daddy had a sweet worship time with us all. He took us again, to see the Father-heart of God in reconciliation and in seeking His wayward sheep. We talked about God’s heart for Paul and had a sweet time of praying for Paul, and resting in our Shepherd’s care. I went to bed very comforted and encouraged.
Early Saturday morning, at 3:00am, my cell phone rang at my bedside. I picked the phone up, and I knew in my heart that it was about Paul. How?? I cannot tell – but God had instantly prepared me for that call. Darren’s panicky voice came over the air. “Mom-m-m. We were in an awful accident and Paul is drowning in his own blood. Pray!” I sent him back to Lisa knowing she needed him desperately, and we sent a hotline and prayed earnestly, but I felt that the struggle was over.
I was distressed with myself, wondering why I felt such peace when I was sure Paul was dead. Maybe, could it be, that he was not hurt as badly as it seemed. But somehow I sensed that he was gone, and there was no need to pray anymore. Fifteen minutes later I called their phone and they answered in the hospital emergency room but they had no further word on Paul. Finally at about 3:30 we got the call that Paul was indeed dead. I comforted Lisa and then they took them away for tests and CAT scans. About 5:00am Lisa called again. Their tests had come back clear. Their unborn baby was OK. Thank you God! Lisa and Darren were bruised and battered but no serious injuries. Thank you God!
The ministry and a few friends came to be with us while we waited to hear how Paul was, and we broke the sad news of his death to them. They stayed awhile to be with us in this difficult time. Really, none of us talked much but we did do some singing. I guess singing is one way our family deals with our problems. We’ve had a lot of practice in the last few years and it has almost become a habit of ours in times of trouble.
When Darren called next at 5:00PM, the sheriff was with them. He told them that it was a miracle that they were still alive. When we saw the pictures we knew that he was right. It appears that when Paul fell asleep the vehicle hit the end of the guardrail and flipped end over end. Then they hit the huge exit sign and took it out. That made the car begin to roll. This was when Darren and Lisa woke up! The sheriff thinks that they rolled at least three to four times. Paul was thrown out and lay about 60 feet from where the car landed. (The death certificate says Paul died of “neck and head injuries.”) The luggage and camping gear were scattered everywhere. All this time my sad heart had only a great peace. I prayed, “Lord, I trust you. If I never have any handles on which to hold I will still trust You.” We could hardly wait until Monday night when the tired young people would come home on the plane. We wanted to talk with them so badly. We wanted to hear all about what had happened on the trip. We wanted to know every detail. But we could not connect with them – bad coverage. So again we waited! Lessons, more difficult lessons in trust! Monday night at 7:00 PM they drove in, and oh, the tears and the hugs, and the questions that were on all of our hearts. We sat around the table and began to talk.
What a wonderful God we serve! As we talked, little things came out from the past two weeks. God gave us such an overwhelming rest that our boy had come close to Him up there on the mountains. We will never really know what all happened between Paul and God. But just as we had hoped and prayed, on the trip he had opened up so much more. Friends told us that he was like the boy they had known three years ago. So often, on the top of one of those huge mountain ranges, at night, one feels himself drawn toward the Master. Paul was such a lover of nature! They told us that he did not sleep in his little tent, but out under the huge starry sky, all alone, with timber wolves howling in the background. They told us that he joined wholeheartedly in the singing around the campfire, and had some really good discussions with them about his heart and where he was.
As they began to travel toward home, late the evening of August 31, Paul brought up an account of a young person whom he had just heard about, who was killed instantly in an automobile accident. “It seems like her life was cut too short,” he said, “But it makes me think about Wayne Keeny’s devotions the other Sunday at Living Hope.” “Who wants to go to Heaven?” Wayne asked. Everyone raised their hands. “How soon?” he asked. Paul continued, “We tend to think I’d like to do this or that yet. But we would never feel that way if we really knew who God is and what Heaven really is like.” “Maybe some of us love our lives too much,” replied Lisa. “Maybe then we will lose them,” was his thoughtful response. What a conversation for the Lord to give us, as some of his last words! When we understand the Father-heart of God, then we can rest content in knowing that He is wise and just, and He knows all things.
My mother heart welled up and overflowed as Lisa said that she fell asleep listening to Paul singing along, alone, with the CD. He was singing songs like “What a Friend we Have in Jesus”, and “No Tears in Heaven”. Paul was singing! How that thought ministered to me since he did not participate much in our family singing times in the past year, and how our family loves to sing together. He had especially avoided the songs that spoke of his relationship to God since he was struggling so much with that. Then his brother shared with us that through the last number of months, when they would talk, he would ask him how his heart was. His answer had always been, “It’s not OK, but I am trying to get it right.” Only a few days before Paul died, he asked him the same question. This time Paul answered, “My heart is clear!” Oh the rejoicing!
As we all sat there around the table, that Monday night, just two days after Paul died, sharing all these things, Joyce began the song, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”. I wish you could have been there. That song was a song of hope for us, a song of trust! Looking around at the faces of my dear family I saw a depth of trust there that I had never seen before. I saw tear-stained faces—full of peace. It was amazing! Then we sang “Master the Tempest is Raging”. The singing was awesome. It flooded my soul with hope! I felt transported to the gates of heaven. How can one’s heart contain all that! We kept on singing and the peace of God just filled the room. What a preparation for the next few busy days of visitation and burial! Over fifteen hundred people came to give us words of comfort and to bless us with their presence. We felt so loved by God and His people. We felt so carried. In the days and weeks since, we have received at least 400 cards and lots of love and prayer. Never underestimate what you do for a family when you carry them to the throne room of God in their time of sorrow and trials and send them a card. We can feel it. We are blessed by it. What a mighty God to share that love with us!
Now Paul is gone and we will not see him again here. We do not know what Paul did with God out there on the mountain. There are many unanswered questions. But God has given our family a sweet hope for which we are thankful. We do not know God’s reasons, but neither are we agonizing. We are trusting. We miss our boy, but we have a sweet rest in our hearts. How can I explain the sweet peace that God has given to us? I think the verse from Philippians 4:7 explains it best. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
I can only thank God for His love, His tenderness and His compassion to us all. He is a good God. I did not expect Him to answer my prayers in this way. But as I look back over the last difficult year and see Him working in Paul’s life, drawing him away from temptation, bonding him to the family and opening Paul’s heart up to himself, I know that God’s ways are not our ways and His timetable is not ours.
Never hesitate to pray because of how God will answer. If you could get a glimpse of the abundant grace that God has given to us in and through Paul’s passing, you would understand the saying, “The will of God will never lead you where His grace cannot keep you.” You would not fear any answer He would choose to give you. You would better understand the song, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’” (That song was written by a godly man who lost his wife and two daughters when their boat sank into the ocean. He understood what it was to trust God in every circumstance and be at rest in His heart with God’s choice for him.)
God used our experience with Paul in the past year to call us to prayer, to teach us to agonize in prayer and to hold on in prayer, believing God in faith, even when believing was difficult. Then in Paul’s death He taught us that “He giveth more grace.” (James. 4:6) We understand in a new way, how big, and powerful and able our God is to do ANYTHING! He can move any mountains. He can calm any sea and He can keep our hearts fixed firm on Him. He is past understanding—so kind and compassionate to us. He watched His Son die. He understands our grief and our sorrows.
Father, I do not comprehend, I cannot understand
The how’s, the wherefore’s, and the why’s;
But on my lips the question dies
Stilled by the knowledge of Your perfect Love,
Your matchless Wisdom, Your Omnipotence.
I cannot understand? But never mind—You do,
I gladly trust into Your hand all life’s unanswered questions.
May I go on, wholly content to know
That what I cannot see is in Your care—and leave it there.
Taken from "The Heartbeat of the Remnant"