Adapted from a message given at the Louisville Conference, September 1982
Several weeks ago, our seventeen year old son, Scott, was killed in an automobile accident a mile and a half from our house. When Linda (Luli) Bunting came to tell me there had been a wreck, my first thought was "Our times are in God's hands" (Psa. 31:15). This is what I told my other son and daughter as I left, with Luli and Sylvia Pearce (my other closest friend and neighbor) to go to the hospital. I also told them that there is a time appointed of the Father to die, and if this was Scott's time, it would be all right.
As usual, God's timing was perfect. Luli and Sylvia were able to be with me that day, even though the next day they were to leave for the Union Life conference center in Hixton, Wisconsin. Luli drove to the hospital and we held hands all the way, and I told them what I had told the children. Because Scott was taken to the University Hospital, our crisis center, I knew it was a bad injury - I didn't have a lot of hope. Also, I knew that God, Who spared not His own son, so He could freely give us all things, would probably not spare mine if more could be accomplished through his death. I had come into an understanding of "Death works in us, but life in others," several years ago, so I could not ask God to spare Scott for my sake. The only thing I asked was that he not be a vegetable. I kept thinking, "I don't want to hang onto life for life's sake."
As we got near the hospital, we saw a police car leaving. In it was my husband, Wade, and my brother-in-law. They motioned us to follow, so I thought Scott had died. We soon realized that we were headed to another hospital and a little hope rose in me. I thought of the verse in Romans 4:18, "Against hope they believed in hope." God had given me this verse when a friend had had a heart attack last Fall, and things were looking so bleak, and again when I thought another friend had a malignancy. I had known it wasn't their time. Now as I thought of Scott, it just didn't fit.
All the time, since the moment Luli told me about the accident, I had been completely insulated from any feelings. My mind was perfectly clear and I was deciding what I wanted done. As I went into Suburban Hospital, I met John Bunting, who is a surgeon. He said, "Scott is alive, but barely." I hugged John and told him that I was sorry he had to be in there with Scott, because Scott was like one of his own children, yet I was so thankful that he was there for us. I said, "You know we want no life support systems, etc." A few minutes later John came out to tell us that Scott had died. After telling him to arrange to donate any needed organs for transplant, Wade and I hugged, but I had no tears.
I then began to re-evaluate my faith, knowing it had always seen me through before, but I was wondering if it was big enough for this. I thought to myself, "We come into this world to die. We all have this ahead of us and none of us know the day."
I began to call people to let them know what had happened. I was especially concerned for Wade's parents, because they had lost two sons in automobile accidents. All the while I thought I must be in shock, because I was so calm. All I could think was, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord."
On the way home I said to God, "I have believed in, 'Out of death comes life,' for the last ten years. I know all about faith, and I am willing to let my child's life be laid down, but I amexpecting to see a lot of life come out of his death." Because I am a faith person and know the workings of God, I had thought I might well stand for years, believing it, but not seeing anything.
I also thought of the Bible study group which I meet with on Fridays. Several of them have lost children and have formed a group for bereaved parents called Compassionate Friends. Through the years I've spouted some pretty tough stuff to them. Such as, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Sometimes I wondered as I came out of those meetings that if God ever required my child, would I want to hear, "In everything give thanks" and "He worked all things after the council of His own will"? Well, I found out-that was all I wanted to hear.
When we got home, I comforted the children with words like-"We believe in eternal life. Our spirit was with God from the beginning, and when the body dies, that spirit lives on. This is Scott's rebirth into heaven. Total spirit. How can we be anything but thankful and happy for him?"
I shed some tears, but as the loved ones and friends poured in I was so in control and saying what I believed to be the truth about it being Scott's time appointed of the Father, that I thought I must be in shock. I kept telling everyone that I was in shock. I kept saying it until my sister-in-law said, "Is this shock or is this your faith?" I had to say, "It must be my faith." Later a friend told me she had seen lots of people in shock and I definitely was not in shock. I was in awe of the Christ who was living and moving and having His being in me-how could I get through anything like this without being flat on my face on the floor?
Dan and Barbara Stone came for the funeral. They've been such a part of our family that I couldn't think of anyone else who could possibly do Scott's funeral. I knew that Dan would say everything I would want to say. He was really magnificent.
The morning after the funeral, a huge plant arrived from some friends in Texas. On the card was written, "I Corinthians 12:26." I looked in my Bible and read only the part I had underlined: "When one member of the body suffers, we all suffer with it." I thought it was so sweet of them. I called to thank them and was told I hadn't read the whole verse: "When one member suffers, we all suffer,when one member is honored we all rejoice." I just loved it.
God has been blessing us by letting us see life springing up from Scott's death. The first was a friend who said that in the four years since her daughter's death she had not had peace, but after hearing Dan's beautiful assurances at Scott's funeral she finally had peace. I was excited that God would begin to reveal this life so quickly. I know there are many we haven't heard of and that there will be many more for years to come.
We have been so thankful for all the love from people who care-those we know and those whom we have not met-those who came and those who have kept us in their thoughts. It has been so uplifting.
Because of all that has happened, our children are really maturing. They are learning the truth of Isaiah 45:3, "I will give you treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places." Years ago I had said our children would probably come to know our union truth at a younger age than we were when we did. I knew this could mean they would have to walk the hard road. A friend from Virginia sent a tape to our (Bunting, Pearce and Wearren) children because of the closeness of our lives, our children have grown up more like brothers and sisters than just friends. On the tape, she told the children that she had been thinking of them and she believed that, at the accident site, Scott had a choice - to stay to give us comfort or to fit into God's higher plan - and that Scott had chosen the higher way. Our daughter Beth said that she used to be afraid to die, but now she has real peace about it.
We live in the country and there are two ways we can get to our house. The road on which Scott was killed is the most convenient way, but after the accident I decided I would never go that way again. I could not bear to pass that site several times a day. After a day or two, though, I decided that I would not be held in bondage by those thoughts; the place, how it happened, etc., were all secondary to it being Scott's time to die. The first few times I had someone else drive and I rode by with my eyes closed, but now I go in and out that way every day. Sometimes I don't even notice. Occasionally, I'm tempted to go over all the facts and indulge in some human "what if's" and some misery. Then I am pushed past the human reactions to the spirit truth of his homegoing.
I try to do a hard thing every day. I cried the day I changed the sheets on his bed, and cleaned out his closets, and put his ski things away. My friends had said to me, "We will come over and go through Scott's things, Harriet, and clean up his room, so you don't have to do it." But I knew that wasn't to be-I had to do it. I had to face my human feelings, and then I would "turn them over" and the spirit reality would become my reality once again. Through my humanity touching me, I would be pressed again into the unseen spirit reality.
Some of the "hard" things were unexpected. I didn't realize how hard going to the grocery store would be. Scott was six foot two inches tall, and weighed 200 pounds. He ate a lot. Usually half of the food in my shopping cart was for him. I was amazed at how much it hurt me to walk those aisles in the grocery store, and never again fill the cart up brimful with food for him. When I got home, I opened up the refrigerator, and there was a half-used bottle of apple cider. Scott was the only one in the family that drank it. I closed the refrigerator and thought, "I can't look at that apple cider."
One day as I went past the accident site, I reflected on Scott's life. It was with Scott that I first began to know what love is. When he was in kindergarten, we found he had a severe learning problem-dyslexia. Through the years, he hated school and I hated for him to have to go. He cried and I cried, and if I could have hugged him to me an kept him at home, I would have. Finally we found a very structured school for children with dyslexia. To me it looked like a reform school, with all its structure and strict discipline. After looking it over, I cried all the way home, and told God that I loved this child too much to subject him to this! God then asked me if I loved him enough to give him this chance. As we had no alternatives left, we sent Scott there, and the place I thought would completely do him in was the very place he blossomed. I then realized that I had been confusing love and protection. It made me rethink my definition of love. As I reflected on these things, God showed me that Scott had come full circle in teaching his Mother about love. The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.
Scott was his Dad's best friend and co-worker. He had his faults, but we didn't have many problems with him. When people say we probably will never know why these tragedies happen to people like us, I have to differ with them. I know God's ways, and I can understand that many hearts will be touched by the death of a neat kid like Scott. Because of this, I can say Scott had as fulfilled a life at seventeen as many have at seventy.
We have so much to be thankful for. We have wonderful memories of past times together. We are thankful that all of our children didn't go at the same time. We are thankful that he didn't have to suffer months and years with irreparable injuries. But, most of all we are thankful to know that the spirit of Scott Wearren was and is and ever shall be - because the things which are not seen are eternal.