Yesterday, my son and his friends had rehearsed most of the afternoon preparing to lead worship for our church today. The adult worship leaders were all out of town this weekend, so Jackson, Drew, Laekin, Shane and Scott had been called up from their usual place leading worship for student ministries to play for the main services. And they were ready.
Several of the band members and their friends decided to have a movie night at our house, so I was making popcorn for them when I got a text message saying Shane and his girlfriend, Cassidy, had been in a very serious car accident. At that moment, a flood of calls and text messages made very clear the fact that this was more than a fender bender. Cassidy had been trapped in the car and, after a “jaws of life” helped paramedics get to her, she was life-lined to one hospital while Shane was taken to another hospital by ambulance. Two of my kids’ dearest friends were in danger.
Groups of friends, parents and church members immediately began to flood each of the hospitals to offer support, prayer, drive-thru burgers, someone even thought to bring a phone charger, which was utilized almost constantly during the hours that followed. Calls and texts were exchanged between each hospital with updates.
Over the course of the evening we learned that Shane suffered a concussion, a shoulder injury, and a bruise on his brain, along scrapes on his face from the airbag. He had no broken bones and was alert and able to have visitors. But there was no way he would be playing drums in the morning.
Cassidy did not fair quite as well, but we were relieved to learn that her injuries were not life-threatening. She had broken ribs, cracks in her pelvis, a severe concussion and a collapsed lung. Friends went back in twos to quietly check in with her, but she was hurting and groggy. Late in the evening, Shane’s dad revealed a photo he had received of the car and suddenly we fully realized the miracle we were witnessing – that they were alive.
By the time visiting hours were over, Jackson had gone from, “There is no way we can sing tomorrow,” to “It’s going to be really hard but I think we need to do it.” Fortunately, our student ministry is blessed with more than one great drummer, so Josh was called in and the band would meet at 7:15 this morning to get ready for the service.
None of us slept much. But at 7:15 this morning, I began to see a group of exhausted, concerned teenagers learn first-hand what it means to see Christ’s strength made perfect in their weakness. While two of their dearest friends in this world lied in beds at two separate hospitals, they led people more than twice their age into the very Presence of Deity. Their raw emotions and weary minds miraculously did not get in the way of what they were there to do, which was worship the God who had graciously spared the lives of people they love. Their gratitude was contagious. And the place was bathed in His Spirit.
After the services were over, they formed a huge circle (pictured above) to thank God and to pray for continued healing for Shane and Cassidy. When teenagers poured into our house for lunch, last night’s uneaten popcorn was still sitting on the counter as a quiet reminder of just how quickly things can change from fun and laughter to somber reflection on life’s fragility.
Shane was released from the hospital this morning and immediately went to see Cassidy. Their friends all piled into cars after lunch, along with our amazing new youth pastor and his wife, to join them. As they left I gave a gentle reminder to drive carefully and watch for other drivers. No one argued.
I must tell you that the tragedy of this weekend – of seeing these precious kids and their families hurting – has somehow morphed into one of the most beautiful sides of the church I have ever seen. I have seen the church from the inside out throughout my life. I have seen its ugliest sides. I have been dangerously close to cynicism at times. But today, I saw Jesus. His hands and feet – even adolescent hands and feet – serving with strength, grace and humility. I needed to see that. And I needed to be reminded that we can trust him with the full weight of our cares, our questions, our fears and even our weakness.
He. Is. Here. He was in that car with those sweet kids. He was in their rooms late into the night when all was quiet and the questions inevitably rolled around in their heads. He was in their friends’ music this morning. He will continue to be in the moments yet to come.
The following is a portion of the lyric from the last song the kids sang this morning, entitled, “Still.” It’s a perfect reminder for us today, and every day.
Find rest my soul In Christ alone
Know his power in quietness and trust
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God