I remember listening to a motivational speaker talk about his sister. She was in high school and was in the back seat of a friend's car when the car had a head-on collision with another car. She had been wearing her seat belt with the lap belt across her lap, but the shoulder belt was behind her back. The lap belt nearly cut her body in half. It was a miracle when the paramedic found her alive, let alone that she lived. After months of surgeries, lying on her back staring at the ceiling, and uncertainty, she was able to go home. She was told she would never walk again, and yet, she is now married with children of her own, walking this large earth. It's a miracle.
I thought of her this week when I heard of Loraine's passing. However, I didn't think of her in a "Why isn't Loraine a miracle" kind of way. Instead, her story, and Loraine's death, somehow solidified for me something that I have never understood: God is always in control in death. It doesn't matter what evil has been involved- if God is not ready for someone to leave this earth, then they won't leave. Instead, they will become that miracle story. Last night the news came on and the caption read: "Samaritans save victim from burning car." It was not time for the driver of that car to leave this earth, but it was time for Loraine.
One of the final things Loraine said was in response to a question mothers ask children all the time: "Where are you?" Loraine's response did not make any sense. She said, "I don't know, I'm just following the light!" Fifteen minutes later she was gone.
Larry and I went to visit the crash site and her car yesterday. We studied the site and Larry walked the path her car took. We left with certainty that Loraine was gone when she went off the road. The amount of time she drove off the road before hitting the tree makes it clear that had she been asleep or distracted, she would have been able to stop her car. There were no skid marks of any kind. She was either unconscious or already gone before she even went off the road.
People have heard others say, "I'm following the light" just before death or near-death experiences. I believe God was already there when she was talking to her mom on the phone and I believe Loraine was already preparing to enter heaven. God saved her from a painful death. I wonder how often this happens. It's something I'll never know for sure until it's my time to follow the light, but I will always wonder this. Part of me has to wonder if God takes the soul of his children before the worst of death can take their bodies. The death of Christ was long, slow and painful. God was there and at one point, he turned away. He's a relational God who loves us and aches when we ache. I will always wonder if this is the last earthly act of a loving heavenly Father- to take the soul just before death. At the very least, I know he did this for Loraine. I will be forever grateful to my Father for that act.
I know it's times like these that split believers and non-believers. As we all try to make sense of what happened and why, we tend to take different paths. Often, non-believers will criticize Christians and their churches for the bad things that have happened through time in the name of Christ. And they are not wrong about that. But the reality is, the love of Christ and the fellowship of the people found inside the churches we all attend is what is helping get us through day by day. I have never seen the love of Christ as clearly as I have these past few days. In death, Christ is made more real. I feel him in every hug and in every meal. I see him in every smile. There is so much peace in Loraine's death that should not be here. We should not feel peace in the death of a 30 year old woman and yet, we are only happy for her. Believing in Christ is something we Christians have to do because we see him so clearly that to deny him would be as ludicrous as denying the trees that cover this earth. It does not make life easier. It will never bring Loraine back. But it gives us a hope and a love that is deeper than any other.
Heavenly Father, Thank you for this family and the people who love us. Thank you for loving Loraine. Thank you for saving her.