What I remember…
It was Sunday morning, July 15, 2012. We had been visiting a church in a town about 45 minutes from our house. Will and I had attended the same Sunday School class while our boys each attended a class for their age groups. We both had concerns and mutually decided to leave after class instead of waiting and attending the Worship Service.
I remember the crunch, crunch under each step we took as we walked across the gravel parking lot on that hot summer morning on our way to our car.
I remember listening to the boys talk about their experience in their classes.
I remember the boys getting in the car and how I had leaned in over Michael to double-check his seat belt to make sure it was properly secured and checking with Josh to confirm his was pulled snug across his chest too. I remember seeing the beads of sweat on their foreheads.
I remember it was hot and the sweat was beginning to trickle down my scalp, dampening my hair and sliding down the back of my neck into my dress.
I remember meeting Will at the rear of our car where he had popped the trunk. I asked him what he thought about the church as we stowed my Bible, the kids’ Bibles, and his backpack with his church things in it. He had a serious, concerned look on his face. He told me that he wanted to tell me something that the Lord had laid on his heart while we were in Sunday School but he didn’t want me to think he was weird.
I laughed, put my arms around his waist…he was six-foot four and I am five foot six…I look up into his eyes with my eyes dancing and told him…”Baby, when was the last time I thought what you said was weird?” He chuckled and said, “Good point.”
He leaned down over me and with love in his eyes, kissed me hard on the mouth…then said to me in a husky, hushed voice, “That’s one of the many things I love about you.” He released me from his arms and stood there shifting his foot on the gravel and the crunching sound was a quiet background as he shared his heart with me that morning.
He began sharing with me how he had the strongest impression from God that morning…he said that the reality that we have two homes was more real to him than it had ever been before. I’ll never forget his words from that morning…
“Mary, this morning, the reality of the fact that we have two homes in two different worlds has never been so real to me as it is this morning. I mean, we live here in this world and have our home here but this is all temporary. Our real home…our permanent home is in heaven with our Lord. My heart is heavy with how so often the church, not just this one but the church in general seems more concerned with fitting into this world and being accepted than it is, that we are, with sharing the reality of our home in heaven with the people in this world.”
He went on to say…“I mean, when Jesus was here he didn’t get himself all distracted with worrying about how what he was teaching and how he was living “looked” to the people in the communities he visited or even how his family felt about all of it. Right?” He said, “What we should be focused on, totally passionate about, as a church and as believers is sharing the incredible gospel Jesus has given to us! After all, it is good news. The best news we can ever share with people! Right?” I agreed with him.
He told me, “You know how we have taken accepted God’s call to be missionaries in whatever ways in whatever communities and places or conversations God places us?” (Will was ordained with a missionary group the month before.) I nodded and said, “absolutely.”
Then he said something that I remain committed to, to this day.
He told me that he knew that we had committed to God and each other that everything we do as individuals, a couple and as a family to bringing glory to God. “But for some reason”, he said to me, “I feel the need for us to recommit to doing that right now.” “I mean, I want us to seriously, passionately commit everything we do, say, every decision we make to be for the purpose of sharing the gospel. I feel God impressing on my heart that our focus should be on bringing as many people with us home to heaven as he directs in our paths. And no matter what we go through as individuals, as a couple or as a family, that we remember that it is an opportunity to draw others closer, and ourselves closer to our Lord.”
We got in the car. We closed our doors. He turned on the car and the air conditioning. He took my hand in his and we bowed our heads and he prayed and asked God to help us to follow through on this commitment and asked God to accept our efforts to further His kingdom and thanked him for the honor of being a part of His bigger plan.
Everyone in our family was hungry so we decided to head to lunch. Will wanted to take us to a neat little diner that he used to go to when he worked in a town near where we were. It was on our way home and I was excited to check it out.
That is all I remember until twenty minutes later, when I woke up and heard confusion. I heard Josh screaming and talking to a man. I remember blackness around me and feeling completely pinned in. I struggled to move and couldn’t move my body. I remember feeling my chest feeling crushed. But I could breathe.
My mind was swimming. What had happened? I had no idea.
I remember yelling over loudness to Josh that everything would be OK and hearing a man’s voice whom I didn’t recognize praying with him.
Then the reality of Will’s weakening presence filled me. I couldn’t see anything…not that I remember at that point. But I knew he was weak and I knew he was pinned over me. (Our car was on its side and I was on the bottom on the ground.)
I remember yelling to Will…”Will! Are you alright baby?”
There was no answer only guttural sounds.
Then I knew with everything in me that he was dying. God was calling him home and he was worried about leaving us. He couldn’t speak or at least loud enough over the noise for me to hear him. I knew I didn’t have a lot of time so I prayed and as tears flowed down my face I said this to my amazing husband…
“Will, baby! I want you to know that I will love you forever!!!! Will, sweetheart, I want you to know that I will be OK and the kids will be OK. You don’t need to worry about us. Honey, here’s what I want you to do, can you hear me?” I could feel that he could.
Then I told him what my heart told me I needed to…it was the very hardest thing I have ever done…but it was all I could do. I could feel him fighting to breathe.
It was then that I told him, “Will, baby, if Jesus calls you home I want you to go with Him. Do you understand me, baby? I want you to go with him when He calls you.”
“I am telling you we will be OK. You don’t need to worry about us. I love you forever and if Jesus calls you home you need to go.”
A few moment later, in my spirit, I felt him go home with Jesus.
The tears streamed down my face and I prayed harder than I have prayed before. I was completely in my own world with the Lord and could feel God present with me. I thanked Him for taking my husband home with Him. I knew in my heart he was hurt really badly and with Jesus in his real home…the home he had just finished telling me about before this moment turned our lives completely upside down…and he would be OK.
I remember the overwhelming sense that I wanted to live to take care our sons, one or both if they survived, be there for Annie, and a passion bigger than I had ever known before rose up inside me to live in order to share the good news of Jesus’ grace and love with our children and to share the testimony of what God had done in Will’s life and his death…and what God has done and would do each day after that as a testimony to His power, His grace, His everlasting love. I remember knowing that God would not leave me alone in this. He would be with me through all of it and I would make it…He would carry me and guide me on this rocky road I was going down. My heart was breaking at the thought of living this life without my Will, but at the same time I was at complete peace as I faded into darkness once again.
This is just the beginning of the new life journey that God is taking me on. It was not easy to share with all of you…in fact I didn’t think I was ready to share all of this quite yet…but God has been leading me and whispering that it is time. I pray that it touches your heart and draws you closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…and draws you closer to the people you love in this world…and increases your passion for sharing His good news with those you know and meet.
We do not know the day or the hour in which Jesus will call us home. And I know I don’t want anyone I know to miss the chance to go home with Jesus when their time comes…
Unwrapping His Grace,
**photos by Gina Weeks, June 2012.
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