This past Monday evening my wife Deb and I got back from what I can only describe as the most complicated family vacation we have ever experienced. The complications began on Monday morning August 9 when my son Matthew received news that Tyler’s father Bill had been killed by a hit-and-run driver in Onaway Michigan. This obviously changed the focus of our time in Michigan and in the time that we would get to spend with our family. Our vacation got even more complicated on Tuesday evening when a severe thunderstorm knocked out our electricity and we were left without power until Friday morning. Mind you, we were already off the grid where we vacation NW Michigan. So now we were off the grid without any power. Fortunately, we had a 20-acre private lake that we could draw water resources from. In the midst of our “complicated vacation” we found that God showed up in some very significant ways. The psalmists often write about God showing up in extraordinary ways in difficult circumstances. We read in Psalm 34, “My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears,” (Ps. 34:2,4 NIV). I would like to share in my blog today some of the ways that I saw God showing the midst of our difficulties.
First of all, we are truly thankful that Tyler’s dad’s passing occurred while we were in Michigan. There were a lot of scenarios that would’ve been a lot worse for us than us being only an hour and ½ away from Onaway, where the accident took place. If Tyler had still been here with us, as he was the previous week, we would have been the ones who would have had to break the news to him. If Tyler had been in Michigan and we had been here (NJ) we would have had to drive the 900 miles to Onaway back and forth in a very short period of time. There was also something that occurred that Monday morning that I can only describe as miraculous. As I mentioned earlier, we are off the grid where we vacation in NW Michigan, but that Monday morning Matt received two texts (the only texts he would receive the whole week). One of the texts was from Bill’s sister and the other was from his fiancée, asking him to contact them as soon as possible. Matt received those texts about 7:30 AM and then proceeded to drive to Mancelona (nearest town with a signal) to call those ladies and find out that Bill had died. He also found out that Lisa was on her way and expected to be there by 10:30. Had Matt not received those texts, when Lisa arrived, we all would have been hearing the news for the first time of Bill’s death. As it ended up Tyler slept until 10:15. When he got up, I offered to make him breakfast which he was happy about. When Lisa arrived, she waited till Tyler had finished breakfast and sat us all down together to break the news to him that his father had died in an accident.
As it related to the power being out for three days, well that certainly added some adventure to our vacation. But difficulties on a family vacation add to memories and make for a great bonding experience. Matt was able to use the fire pit to cook from and we were able to use the lake water for our toilet necessities and washing dishes. We also relied on our missionary friends Dave and Ev for showers, and this drew us closer to these dear people, who we deeply love and appreciate. Somehow in the midst of all of our difficulties, we still managed to have a very pleasant and enjoyable time with Matt and Ethan. We were also able to spend some quality time with Tyler, the night before his dad’s memorial service and to be present for the memorial service. We are so thankful that our family was all together to support Tyler in the loss of his dad.
We are reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 8 when he writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” (Rom.8:28 NIV). Paul doesn’t say in this passage that all things are good, but rather that God has a way of working things out to bring about blessings in our lives, even through tragedies. Bill’s tragic death was not a good thing, nor was it a good thing for us to be without power for three days, but when we look for God’s presence, even in the midst of our brokenness, we can find and see Him showing up in small ways and sometimes even in rather extraordinary ways. Whatever difficulties or problems you may be going through at this moment, don’t lose view of the fact that God is in everything and that when we truly seek Him, He will find a way to show up and minister to us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But we must trust in God’s ability to work and move as we seek to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, even in the midst of our brokenness.
All for God’s glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo