I grew up in a Christian home and our family and extended family were all very close. My grandparents on my Dad’s side had a farm not too far from where we lived in East Texas and we spent a lot of time there.
My best childhood memories are at the farm with my grandparents, working in the garden and spending time with my cousins. Nothing was better than getting all of us together, dragging out all the cots in the closets and setting them up in the living room to sleep. We knew we had a fun night ahead of us and a huge country breakfast the next morning. To this day, one of my favorite things is to wake up to the smell of bacon cooking.
My grandmother was the matriarch of our family. She was the glue that held us all together. My cousin Curtis and I were more like brothers and were very close. He was four years older than me and I was his best man at his wedding. He and Julie lived in DeSoto, Texas.
I remember the week of Aug. 15, 1983, when my mom told me that Curtis and Julie were coming down to the farm that weekend and we would all be getting together. It had been a while since I had seen them and I was very excited.
The week went by rather quickly. It was Friday, Aug. 19. I had started football workouts where I attended high school. Curtis and Julie were to arrive at the farm that Friday evening and we had all planned for me to see them Saturday, the following day.
That Friday afternoon, I began to not feel well and by that evening I had to be rushed to the ER for a massive migraine headache that came out of nowhere. I had never had a migraine headache before and I’ve never had one since of that magnitude. The doctors gave me a shot and sent me home.
I woke up early the next morning, Saturday, Aug. 20, 1983. Still not feeling very well, I got up and moved to the couch in the living room. Little did I know, as I was falling back to sleep, that the event of this day would change our family forever.
The next thing I remember hearing were my grandmother and Curtis’ voices, asking my mom how I was feeling. I remember wanting so badly to get up but I just couldn’t move. My mom told them that maybe I would feel like coming over later that afternoon. I heard them say their goodbyes and they went outside.
About 20 minutes after they left, a little after 11 a.m., our phone rang and, as soon as I heard it, I sat straight up on the couch and felt perfectly fine. My amazement of feeling perfectly normal after what I had been through was short lived by hearing the screams of my mom on the phone. She was being told that, shortly after leaving our home, my grandmother, my cousin Curtis and his wife, Julie, while traveling back to our farm, their vehicle in which they were riding was struck by a train just a couple of miles away from our home and all three had lost their lives.
Thirty-five years later and the sting of that day still haunts us. Even now it’s difficult to find the right words to describe how devastated we were during that time.
I share this very personal story to tell you that through this tragic event, I really understood for the first time, just how real God is. Because I know I would not have made it through this time without Him.
All of us played the “What if” game for a very long time. What if I had not gotten that migraine? Maybe I could have saved them or, at the very least, kept them there at my house for 15 more seconds. That’s all they needed.
For me, that loss deepened my love and my walk with God. As my relationship with God has grown, I have learned that nothing is more important than my prayer time with Him. I love spending time in prayer, talking and listening for his voice.
I want to encourage you to find the time to spend with God in prayer. We live in a world where we will never understand why all the hateful, bad and evil things happen. If we allow it, those things can consume us and very quickly take us down the wrong paths.
Whatever tragedy that has happened in your life, whatever bad thing you may be facing right now, stop for a second and talk to God about it. No one knows you better than He does. He created you and He loves you. Give Him a chance to show you the way He wants you to go. He will. He’s just waiting for you to give Him a chance.
Do something to make a difference in someone’s life today.