8 Years ago, I was 19 years old. I was in my 3rd year of college, working at a restaurant, and enjoying life as a college student. 8 years ago, on September 18th, my sister and I were home alone, my parents were in Stockton and my dad was on his way back home to Fresno. I wondered why he was coming home so late, but I went to bed anyway knowing he would be home soon. I was lying in bed, falling asleep. I remember waking up almost gasping for air, my heart pounding. I sat up in my bed and thought that was weird. Shortly after, I heard a knock at the door. I looked out to see an unfamiliar man in a white van. I thought it was one of my sister’s friends so I yelled to her to go answer the door, so she did. I looked out of my window at the van again and saw the word “Chaplin” on it. I ran down stairs to see what was going on. It was in fact a Chaplin, and he was there to deliver the terrible news.
My dad on his way home to Fresno, pulled over to the side of the road because of chest pain, had a heart attack, and died.
It was so unexpected and confusing that I actually called my dad’s cell phone to tell him some weird guy was here telling us he died. Shortly after I gulped, and realized this was real. I had to call my mom and tell her. Still not fully believing it, I called my mom and told her what was going on. She called Highway Patrol and a few minutes later, they were there (at my Grandma’s house in Stockton) to confirm the nightmare. My father, at the age of 50, had unexpectedly died of a heart attack. Our lives would NEVER be the same.
8 years ago our world was flipped upside down. My father was my mom’s best friend. He was my rock. I loved him, laughed with him, learned from him. He was a loving father who protected his daughters, defended his home, and loved us so much. We could not believe this had happened. No one could. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with peace and love during my dad’s funeral. His funeral was truly a celebration of his life. There were about 1,000 people who came to honor my dad and celebrate the legacy of love, laughter, and wisdom he passed on.
8 years ago my faith journey began. 8 years ago I began asking questions like “Who is God? If someone is in charge ‘up there’, who is it? What happens after death? Why do I have peace at my father’s funeral? Why do people keep telling me about Jesus? His death on the cross? What does that have to do with me?” I began seeking out Truth about Creation, death, life, salvation, Jesus. I had always believed there was one true God. I never bought into this whole “all ways are right”; it just never made sense logically.
A year or two later, I ran into my old boyfriend from high school (now my husband) and God used him to answer many of these questions. He helped me process through my thoughts on God and this longing in my heart to find the truth. It was then, after going through this horrible tragedy, and coming into contact with someone who not only had the right answers for me but lived them too, that I understood the gospel. A light went on, my eyes could see clearly who God is, what Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection meant for me, and how I can live in light of that!
I understood that the peace I felt when my dad died was God’s love. I understood that God used that horrible tragedy to teach me that I am not in control of my life or the days spent here on this earth. I understood through a tragic circumstance that this pain was meant to bring me to my knees, to surrender my way of life, and learn to live the life He had planned for me.
I can’t imagine where my life would be if God did not intervene. God was working in my life in a way I could not understand. Now I reflect on the love of both my earthly father and my heavenly father and I am incredibly thankful for the love I’ve received.
Although there are still days, like today, when I miss my father dearly, I have hope knowing that there is something greater for me. The thought of seeing my father again is so precious to me. But even more precious to me, is knowing the love of my Heavenly Father, spending all eternity with Jesus Christ my savior, and rejoicing in the hope of these things yet to come.
I know how much my earthly father loved me. But oh how much more does my Heavenly Father! It’s weird to think that 8 years ago was the worst day of my life, and yet still something to be thankful for.
8 years ago, I lost my earthly father . . . but gained a Heavenly Father.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
“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.” (Romans 8:28)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)