Last week in Maryland, a girl named Chelsea was hit by a mack truck and died. I know this because I decided to be a Christian and not a coward.
I was in route to help my fiance move out of her college apartment in Philadelphia. Traffic was a nightmare. 26.2 miles in two hours. I was belligerent.
My stomach was growling, and it was time to pull over. I chose to go to McDonald’s because they have free WiFi, and I needed to download an audiobook to my Kindle. I took the next exit.
I will spare the details of what I ordered. It was bad for me, and my body still regrets it. All you need to know is that my audiobook was downloading a little slower than I expected, so I decided to wait it out.
After about 15 minutes of waiting, two men sat at the table across from me. One I recognized as the manager, a 50ish-year-old Indian man whose uniform was ironed and whose shoes were squeaky clean. The other, a 16 year old African-American kid with a variety of facial piercings, some dark make up around his eyes, and a skateboard.
“A job interview” I wondered. “No, I can tell these guys are friends… Why are they friends?” They were 7ft away from me. Eavesdropping was inevitable.
Quickly I noticed that the boy was weeping.
He was talking about a girl, Chelsea. Her smile, her laugh, memories, and the wreckage that took her away. There was no explanation. He was supposed to see her that night. Then she was gone.
My heart broke.
“What the heck am I supposed to do?” I thought to myself. “Something. Right? I’m a Christian. Christians love people. A Christian would at least offer to pray wouldn’t they?”
My mind began to race. “Why am I so scared?” Doubts poured in.
“They have each other” I thought. “They don’t need me to come in and be all religious.”
But I could not shake the impulse. I was there. I had to act. When humanity was in despair, God did not just sit back in His plastic bench and eat His french fries. He intervened. He embraced the brokenness. He was born in a manger and eventually died on a cross.
They stood up and we naturally made eye contact.
“You lost a very close friend.” I whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
A moment passed.
I asked to pray for them. We prayed. Other customers watched. The boy left to go smoke a cigarette, but had left his stuff there. When he walked back in he instinctively sat down with me.
We talked about Chelsea. We were silent together. He asked about me, then I asked about him. I spoke peace and encouragement into his life. He came from a broken family.
Everyone thinks he is a screw-up. I didn’t think that.
And I was there to tell him.
Where is God when everything falls apart? Isn’t that the question people ask during times of crisis.
When you see tragedy, are you going to step into the brokenness, or are you going to walk away?
Because if we continue to walk away from people, then we are going to continue to wonder why it is so hard to feel connected with the Father. It is time to walk the path of brokenness with those who are hurting. It is time to set aside our insecurities and love people. It is a hard road to follow, but it is worth it. Love is worth it.
Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“Father, I pray for Chelsea and her family and friends. Lord, let you Kingdom come here on earth as it would in Heaven. Give them everything they need to get through this tragedy. Let your grace fall on them. Lord, be a light to guide them on the path of brokenness. Give them comfort. Keep them from further evil – temptation and the enemy. Raise up more saints to speak words of life to them. Amen”