A week ago, I could have answered this question with a resounding “YES” and gone on with my life. Today, I’m not so sure.
A week ago yesterday, which was Friday, March 23, 2012, life changed drastically for a family we know. Technically, the Underwood family is a neighborhood acquaintance from one of our former homes. I know now that they are friends of mine because if there was any way I could heal their son, Tanner, I would do everything in my power to do so without question or pause. I think that qualifies as friends.
What I know for fact is that Tanner, who is a beautiful 8th grade boy, was in a car accident with his mother and brother. What I don’t know for fact but heard many times is that the accident occurred when traffic stopped on the Interstate and Tanner’s mom slowed to a stop, but the car immediately behind them did not see until the last minute. That vehicle (supposedly) managed to swerve and miss them, but the car following that one plowed directly into them with Tanner in the backseat. Again, the details come through word-of-mouth sources and may not be accurate. Either way, as a result of the accident, Tanner is fighting for his life after 8 days in the highly critical section of ICU.
Back to my original question: are you faithful? I am afraid that I am not. I am faithful to my wonderful husband, my Coach. Not only do I totally adore him, I often “people watch” others and think to myself, “Thank you, Lord, for sending me Coach because I could NOT be married to THAT man over there instead!!” I am faithful to my kids. Every single day I praise the gift I received in being allowed to be Mom to those two amazing humans! I am faithful to my extended family and all my close friends…I work hard to be there for them all and do what I can to support and assist when they need a helping hand. In these ways, I am faithful.
But these are the easy ways. There is no test or struggle in being wife, mom, friend. These are all the fun things. What about the not-fun things? What about when something terrible happens? To people who are wonderful and kind and good? I’m afraid that is where my faith runs shallow.
I’ve discovered this about myself by reading updates, thoughts, and prayers posted by Tanner’s parents these last 8 days. In fact, I find myself constantly checking my email all throughout the day to see if I have missed any news. And each time I click the link to read the journal, I am begging fervently for good news while dreading that it may very well be bad news instead. That’s how I know my faith is lacking.
I also know that if I was in their shoes, I could in no way be the strong, steady pillar of strength that I am witnessing in the Underwoods. They are ministering to me, TO ME, through their words, and their love, and their hope. They are easily the most faithful family that I have ever seen. Not just on the surface, but down deep, where it matters.
Early in the week, Mr. Underwood referred to Philippians 4:11-13. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
This touched my heart and opened my eyes. Here is a father not sure if his son will wake up, and he is still trusting in the Lord. I’m not that good. My faith is not nearly so strong. I am in awe of the peace that Mr. Underwood’s faith provides.
Later, he posts that someone reminded him that regardless of the situation, Tanner will next open his eyes in God’s presence, it may be with us in the earthly world, or it may be in the heavenly world, but Tanner will not be alone. The Lord is with him both places. Again, I am blown away by the trust I read in those words. I am not that good. My trust is not nearly so present.
In hoping and praying and wishing that he would wake up, Mrs. Underwood told Tanner that he can take his time, as long as he needs…she will be here waiting patiently when he is ready. From the mom who is always saying, “5 minutes and we gotta be out the door…you HAVE to get out of the bed now, or you’re gonna be late to school…hurry, hurry, hurry,” I can barely comprehend the difficulty in granting permission to take as long as you need, but I admire it so very much!
I could go on and share many more examples of how this family has touched my heart, how their faith has illustrated a place in myself that needs a lot of work, and how their words, Tanner’s story, is weaving ministry into my days. And my nights…I fell asleep last night praying for Tanner’s recovery. I prayed over and over that when he wakes up, he will look into his mother’s eyes and into his father’s smile, and say something adorable and so Tanner-like that the Underwoods will know they have their baby back whole and healthy.
Like so many things I try to write about (many of which get deleted before they get published here for others to actually see), there is no way I can do this entry justice. I encourage you to go to Tanner’s CaringBridge site, and please read his story, his parents’ journal, and sign his guestbook to let them know just how many people from all around the map are sharing in this terrible, difficult journey. If you are lucky, like I, you will absorb some of their faith and strength and patience and understanding, and you, too, will walk away changed.
Finally, I will refer you to 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Please, for Tanner, pray without ceasing.