Eleven years ago to this day, I got the call that I didn’t want to hear. My son’s mother was calling me at 2 pm, and immediately I knew Eddie had been killed in Iraq. I knew this before I answered the phone, because somehow I knew this day would come. I knew this because the Holy Spirit had been preparing me for it. When I saw the number, the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart, “Prepare yourself.”
When I answered the phone, Eddie’s mom was crying and sobbed, “Eddie’s gone.” An Army casualty notification team was at her house. She insisted on calling me to tell me herself so I wouldn’t have to go through the same shock. At first the team objected, but Tina insisted. I spoke with the Chaplain on the phone, gave him my address, and told him I would be home when they arrived later that afternoon.
I hung up the phone and looked at my co-worker David and told him Eddie had been killed. I must have almost passed out because he caught me and told me, “Go tell Karen and then go home. I’ll take care of everything here.”
The rest of the day’s event I’ll share another time, perhaps in a book my pastor recently encouraged me to write. What I want to share with you today is where my God was during all this. That is an honest question many people, including Christians, often ask when a loved one is unexpectedly killed.
Eddie’s death cannot really be considered unexpected. He was an infantryman in the United States Army. He was on his second tour in Iraq and had escaped death numerous times. In fact, when I called my pastor to tell him Eddie had been killed, I said, “Eddie ran out of miracles.”
How did I know this day would come? I knew this because for months the devil had been attempting to strike the fear of Eddie being killed into my heart. I confess he had done a pretty good job. It was in January of 2007 that I finally gave my fear over to God.
I had recalled a scene in the movie “Facing the Giants,” where the main actor spent the whole night in prayer wrestling with God about having a child. He finally came to the point where he tells God, “If you never give me a child, I will still love you.”
My commitment to God was, “If You decide to take Eddie home, I will still love you.” That was a very difficult commitment. The devil tried to tell me I was giving up. I told him I was. I was giving up on fear and living in faith. I knew then, as I do today, that God loved Eddie more than I did. If God decided that Eddie’s time on earth was over, then I would praise God for the time He gave me with my son.
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15a)
There’s a Phillips, Craig & Dean song I was listening to a few weeks ago that prepared me for today because each passing year is different and not any easier, just less traumatic. As I was listening to the song, these words soothed my soul like a heavenly salve:
It didn’t take long for my whole world to change
One phone call now life will never be the same
It’s like I’m watching my whole world go dark
Nothing makes much sense
But still with all my heart
I Choose to believe
And never give up hope
God is good
He’s in control
I’ll keep the faith
I trust in His way
Even when His face is hard to see
I choose to believe
To write those words, to sing them with honesty, or to believe them is in itself a miracle. It is the miracle of salvation. In the midst of such anguish and grief, never once did I feel as though I had lost Eddie. I know exactly where he is. I know exactly Whom he is with:
“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)
We all miss Eddie. I especially miss the relationship God had developed between my adult son and me. We grew in our Christian faith together as men. He became one of my best friends. He would bless me when he would call and say, “Dad, I need some of your godly wisdom.” Those words are like manna from heaven.
I miss that. I miss him. Glory to God I will see him again and have even sweeter and eternal fellowship with him.
Another line from the song is “It’s easy to believe when everything goes our way, but we are all gonna go through fire to test our faith.”
What I learned about my faith is that it was strong not because of me, but because of a faithful God. He was with me all the time, even when I didn’t know it or knew I needed Him. My hope in Christ never faltered; it actually grew stronger.
That’s why I choose to believe.
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Copyright © 2018 David Jeffers