On Wednesday morning I logged into my Facebook account to see post after post about a girl from my hometown who had moved to Indianapolis with her husband to spread the gospel of Jesus and start their own church. She was at home on Tuesday morning with her 15 month old son while her husband was working out at the gym - during that short time a man invaded their house and shot Amanda in the head while her son was unharmed in his crib. Amanda's husband returned home to find her unconscious where she later proceeded to leave this Earth and enter the gates of Heaven along with her 12 week old unborn baby.
While I had only met Amanda once in a quick moment and didn't have a personal relationship with her this story has torn me to pieces and has prompted so many questions in my head, mostly consisting of "why?!". All weekend long I would find myself thinking about her - decorating for Christmas filled my eyes with tears as I envisioned what her family's Christmas will feel like this year. Making dinner sent me into a spiral of thoughts about how she was most likely doing the same thing just several days ago in her own home, the same home that she experienced the scariest moment of her life in. To think that just one week ago at this time she was flourishing, living life with her sweet family and now - she is no longer on Earth but with her Father for eternity. You see, in the short amount of time that I have learned about Amanda, it is evident that she was a devote follower of Christ and in everything chased after Him.
Last evening, her funeral was aired live online. I had told Shawn earlier in the day that I wanted to watch it to which he advised I shouldn't because he know I would be a wreck. And while he was right, I was a wreck, I wanted to watch it for a couple of reasons: a) being a Christian myself I have questions when situations like this arise. They don't make sense, I want answers. I wanted to hear how a preacher would explain this type of devastating tragedy and how such a horrible circumstance could be made good. b) I believed her life was definitely worth celebrating, regardless of how little I knew her c) I have been intrigued by her family and friends in the midst of this situation. These people have faith like I have never seen. In Amanda's husband public statement he says: "I know beyond a shadow of a doubt her desire for me would be to continue what we’ve started here in Indy. I hold firm to the belief that God is still good, that He takes our tragedy and turns it into triumph, and that the best truly is yet to come."
To be able to say those words - "He takes our tragedy and turns it into triumph...that the best is truly yet to come" days after his wife was murdered in their home blew my mind but yet, I believe it.
Here's the thing - none of us on Earth will ever understand completely why these things happen. It's not our responsibility to have all of the answers, it's His. As the pastor said yesterday evening during the service - the moment we have all of the answers is the moment He ceases to exist. Our God is a mysterious God. While we can't begin to fathom His purpose in this mess, He has one. He always does. What we do have here on Earth is hope - a hope that is unlike any others. I can't imagine a life where death is the final point in somebody's life, that there is nothing else. Without this hope of everlasting life, a home where we can spend eternity together forever, these situations such as Amanda's is nothing but a horrible, disgusting, sad story. But with this hope of Heaven and Jesus Christ, her story is yes still horrible, disgusting and sad - but it's also an opportunity. An opportunity to see Christ work in ways that you can't watch Him work when all is well, an opportunity to open the minds and hearts of those who don't believe in anything beyond this life. People will spend their eternity in Heaven not because of Amanda but because of what Jesus did through Amanda's tragedy. This world is a very scary place full of hurt, pain and suffering - but this world is not our home. I am so thankful to serve a God who invites us into a relationship not a religion, that loves unconditionally despite all of our wrong doings [mine being many] and simply asks us to believe.
I don't know your story or your beliefs, but I do know mine. Faith was always a normal part of my life from a young child - my parents both having a relationship with Christ and of course encouraging me to have the same. And while I always believed that there was a God, my faith didn't mature until a couple of years ago. It all started when my dad was having a standard procedure done and the doctors accidentally perforated his colon, leaving him near death. He was in and out of the hospital weeks following with complications and one of the mornings that I knew he was in the hospital, I was at work answering phones in the call center. Shawn was sitting at the hospital with my dad because at the time I didn't feel strong enough to see my dad in those circumstances - I had been texting Shawn periodically to see how my dad was doing and I would get the occasional "all is well! no worries" leaving me little room to worry. It was during one of my calls that I suddenly felt the urge to pray like I had never prayed before. I had no idea why or what was happening but I remember looking at the clock on my computer screen and just praying fervently over and over "Lord, please protect my father at this very moment in time. I will mark the time - 9:31 am that at this exact moment in history you heard my cries and you performed a miracle. I will never deny your name because I know that right now Lord, whatever it is you are doing, you are the only one in control of this situation. Please father, let it be okay."
I never said a word about any of this and showed up to the hospital that afternoon. I asked how things had been going and that's when Shawn broke the news to me that things got really bad earlier that morning. My father had gone to the restroom alone and in there and passed out with a pile of blood underneath him. During my father's fall he somehow managed to pull on the cord that signaled he needed help to the nurses. They were able to find him lying there and had a doctor rushed in immediately and were able to get him back to stable condition.
I asked Shawn the time this all happened, 9:31 am.
This life is hard, it doesn't make sense, people are hurting, tragedies happen and questions will be asked. I just pray that whatever you situation may be, you have hope that this isn't it. Amanda's legacy will live for years to come while Jesus's will live forever.
In closing, if you are the praying type - please pray for Amanda's husband Davey, their son Weston and the rest of her family and friends. I can't imagine what they are going through and what the days ahead will look like for them, but I do know that they have Jesus and with Him, they have everything. Thank you Amanda for loving Christ passionately and without a doubt - this world will be changed because of your relationship with Christ, this I believe.