“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Ps 139:14-16
When I think of Becky’s accident there are two words that could define that moment for me: absence or presence. December 29 started as a normal day for her, but with the threat of inclement weather to make travel to her clnical rotation site and home potentially hazardous. She packed a bag as she left just in case she should need to stay away from home. Somehow she decided that she would be OK driving if she left work a bit early. She managed to get about 10 miles from home before her van slid on the ice into the oncoming lane. A pick-up struck her door in just the ‘right’ place to cause mortal injury to Becky.
Where was God in all of this? He could’ve altered Becky’s decision process so that she stayed in town. He could’ve used His almighty power to stop the slide of the van or to gently place the pick-up truck in the ditch. With one breath He could’ve melted the ice and kept the van from sliding into the path of the oncoming vehicle. But He didn’t. Absence.
But oh how I see His presence in all of this. I see an accident set in motion by decisions made based upon the best information available at the time. I see natural law in place, laws ordained by God to make sense of our world that on this day resulted in a senseless loss. But there is so much more than an ‘accident’ here. Becky and Jacob’s neighbor Paul was following the pick-up truck that struck Becky’s van and he saw the accident happen. He was at Becky’s van door as soon as possible and knew that her injuries were grievous. Becky was non-responsive by that time; within minutes of the accident she didn’t know pain or fear or cold – Paul was able to share that bit of comforting news. When Paul knew Becky was being cared for he went immediately to Jacob. Paul went to Jacob’s door, told him there had been an accident and took him in his car to the hospital. Amanda was there to help get the girls to Audra, a very dear friend of the family who had been taking care of the girls off and on for a year. There were friends working at the hospital who were notified immediately of the accident and that Becky was on her way to the hospital with Jacob not far behind. Over and over in small and large ways I see God comforting and supporting through divinely placed people. Presence.
God knows what our lives hold for us and He knows from beginning to end. He knows when our death is coming and He is present and ready to embrace us as we fully enter His presence. Psalm 139:16 tells us that “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 58:6 says “Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record (book)?” The same Hebrew word – book – is used in each of these Psalms. I see the hand of God recording all of Becky’s days in His book, recording all of her tears in His book, keeping precious watch over this one that He loves and over each of us who love her. Presence.