Last Wednesday, four high school girls from my community were in a tragic car accident that took one of their lives. She was 15 years old. The other three will be alright, but surely have a long road of emotional healing ahead of them after such a traumatic experience.
In the face of tragedy and heartbreak, a community of teenagers has banded together in love and support for the victims and their families. Through their tears, they have found hope. Light has emerged from the ashes of grief, descending upon the broken-hearted like dew from heaven.
I heard from a few of these incredible youth in a church meeting on Sunday. They spoke of their love for their friend who lost her life, their sadness at her passing, and the peace they have found in knowing that life continues beyond the grave.
The faith of these teenagers was inspiring. They could have been angry at God for allowing a young life to be lost in such a horrific way. But goodness, light, and hope have comprised the message they have chosen to embrace and share amidst their pain.
I did not know the sweet girl who passed away, but her loss has thrown me for a loop. It has reminded me of the fragility of life and how little control we have over our mortality. I cannot help thinking about what would happen if tomorrow never came for me. Would I be ready to meet my maker should tragedy strike?
The answer to that question is a resounding no. I would do a million things differently if I knew my life would soon be ending. But where do I begin?
How can I pour myself into my blog with all of its intricate pieces, develop deeper relationships with my husband and kids, serve others, spend meaningful time in the scriptures, attend the temple weekly, exercise, keep up with busy teenagers, run a household, and eek out some time for myself without sinking?
It feels so overwhelming.
As I have thought about these questions this week, an answer came unexpectedly during church choir practice on Sunday. We were running through a song inspired by these verses in Mark chapter 4:
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?
While singing about this Bible experience, I felt like I was with Jesus’ disciples on that ship. I felt their fear as the storm intensified, threatening to swallow them. And yet, the Master slept.
What the disciples did not understand was that no storm could sink the ship that held the one man who could control the elements with a single word. They feared for their lives while Jesus slept, not realizing they were safe amidst the howling wind and boisterous waves because they were with the Son of God.
As I sang, a profound peace came over me. The priorities of my growing list of must do’s immediately became clear. I realized that to keep from sinking, I needed to be in the boat with the Savior. By turning my life over to Him, I would not only stay afloat, but make significant progress, and everything else would fall into its proper place.
Putting the Lord first is not a new concept for me, but I haven’t been doing it very well lately. I have been fighting it instead, convinced that I needed to spend my time doing a thousand other things that felt more pressing. I rationalized that God surely understood that I would be more devoted to Him when my life settled down a bit.
This past week, through tragedy and heartache, followed by hope and faith, the light of the Lord has illuminated the dark corners of my heart. Through His Spirit and the examples of a host of faithful youth, He has reminded me that lasting peace comes only through Him.
Tomorrow is uncertain, so I am going to make the most of today by getting in the boat with my Savior and giving Him the only thing that is uniquely mine to give: my will. He knows the way because He is the way.
So I will trust Him. Lean on Him. Follow Him. Unconditionally.