How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

Sunday morning during communion while the church sang, “How deep the Father’s love for us,” I sat and listened unable to sing, because I had a softball stuck in my throat. I had just read a text from my brother Toby, “Played a little chess Drew is beating me without even looking. Washing his hair this morning. The truck on top of the car dripped oil all over him…he is still hurting. On IV pain meds.”

While the church sang…

“How great the pain of searing loss, The Father turns His face away, As wounds which mar the chosen One, Bring many sons to glory.”

…I thought about not being able to reach my own son, of Toby not being able to reach Drew, and of my own Father God, who could have reached his own Son, but used Divine restraint and only watched and saw the pain of searing loss.

I remember my brother lamenting the fact that he couldn’t hold Drew when he was born because Drew was born prematurely. “I couldn’t reach him, couldn’t touch him, couldn’t hold him.” I’m not sure if my brother said those literal words, but that sense is what I’ve always remembered about the first few weeks of Drew’s life. He was enclosed in glass for several weeks. Now he is a handsome young man, a chess player, a brilliant mathematician. Drew will be 22 on March 15th.

Last Friday night, he was in the back seat of a Subaru on I-71 near Louisville, and like his beginning in life, prone and asleep, enclosed in glass, but this time the glass and steel of a Subaru. His friend Nick drove and Nick’s girlfriend, Abby Owen’s occupied the front passenger seat. A semi-truck and trailer skidding on snow and ice couldn’t stop and plowed into the car, every parent’s worst nightmare. We lost Nick, Abby was able to walk away, and for two hours, Drew was trapped in a tangle of steel, unable to move, legs pinned, with the oily sludge of an 18 wheeler dripping on him. Drew tried to move the weight that held him in a tight space, found it impossible, and calmed himself by praying and talking to Nick. He couldn’t see Nick, but they talked, until Nick no longer was able to talk. Drew prayed. A paramedic came, and spoke with Drew. The paramedic prayed with Drew. And Drew waited in the freezing cold, covered in oil. Drew was at peace in God’s hands.

And so Sunday morning, my brother the doctor, washed the oil from the hair of his son, as a thousand friends prayed, as total strangers offered the families places to stay, keys to cars for transportation around town, expressions of encouragement, food and money, hugs…and tears. They were covered with love from a great cloud of witnesses who believe in what these kids were doing. They were on their way to Syracuse to work with a church during spring break. Not the beach for spring break, not the mountains, they were going to be the hands and feet of Christ.

It was good to talk with Drew by phone last night and I told him if I was there, I’d kiss him on the head, and he said, “No thanks.” And I knew he was going to be alright, because this world is not his home, he’s just here for a while…like all of us really.

Thanks be to God that most of the time, we can reach our kids, touch them, love them, hold them, protect them. But when we can’t, there are people out there behaving in ways that I can’t entirely comprehend. God bless Nick, love him and hold him, Nick is home. I can’t explain what happened at 1:15 AM March 7th on a cold interstate in Kentucky.

But I can explain what happened after, and it’s the only thing that makes any sense.

45 responses to “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”

  1. Brent, so sorry to hear about Toby’s son. My wife told me about the incident over the weekend and mentioned one of the the kids was a Taylor, “wasn’t one of your college friends a Taylor?” I dismissed the likelihood of a connection since u knew u didnt have a son there at the time. Prayers and thoughts to all of you. We were very close to the Massey family here who lost a daughter last spring on the way back to harding. Tell Toby we are thinking of them and speedy recovery. Hang in there, DP

    • Hey David: always great to hear from an old friend…and we get to be “older friends” every day. Thanks for the thoughts and I’ll tell Toby you are asking about the family. He certainly remembers you from the famous trips we took.
      Peace, bt

  2. Great commentary, Brent, and I can’t sing “How Deep” without getting a lump in my throat. Keeping my thoughts and prayers trained on the people in our family who need the gift of healing today.

  3. Thank you, Brent. I couldn’t keep from crying as I read the part about Toby washing the oil from his son’s hair, thinking about all the times I’ve been able to hold each of my grown children close and kiss them on their heads and share their hurts and sorrows. Life is fragile, and we are so blessed by every moment of it that we get to share together with those who are precious to us. Please share my love with all of yours…

  4. Thanks my brother, your words are always wise and intelligent and compassionate, because that’s who you are. Thanks for being one who shares Christ in words spoken and unspoken. I love you and your family! Greet Nancy and give her love from me and Karen…bt

  5. Thank you for this. My son graduated with drew and they both are smart kids. We are saddened to hear of the loss of nick and all the families involved will be in our prayers. It is every parents nightmare to get that call. Please everyone make sure your kids have an I.C.E. (in case of emergency) contact in their phone.

  6. Wonderful words Brent. Brian and I were in Norman this weekend. When we heard about the accident we immediately prayed for all involved. We have been keeping Toby’s family in our thoughts and prayers. Not gonna lie, visiting Andrew this weekend allowed me to hug him a little tighter when we left.

  7. Brent
    I was lucky enough to meet some of the Harding Basketball players Saturday. I witnessed a dad telling his daughter everything she did wrong in the game. I saw her again Sunday morning and tears swelled up in my eyes because you realize that in heaven you can’t do anything wrong. Tell Toby that we will be praying for a speedy recovery for Drew. My heart sank when I heard the news.
    Sure love you guys gj

  8. I can totally relate! I lost my 1st husband when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with our son and he died on our daughter’s 5th birthday (Dec 21st).

    That first year was extremely difficult but still had some joy in giving birth to our son a month and a half later.

    I didn’t really have my head on straight until about 2 1/2 years after my 1st husband died.

    During that time, I knew God would take care of me and my children. I just functioned (at best), learned to leave things in God’s hands *the things I couldn’t control*, get the help I needed, and lean *sometimes heavily* on my church family.

    It wasn’t easy. It’s not as simple as just praying about it and the pain, trauma, and grief are gone. It takes W-O-R-K, patience, faith, action, and trust.

    With God, my church family, family, and perseverance, love found me again. Got married and was blessed by adding another addition to our family. 🙂

    There’s still challenge at that pop up (even 6 yrs later. All things are able to overcome with God. I’ve done it and so have others. Many, never get there because they don’t have God in their lives, lack of will, or because they don’t think they deserve to have any joy or happiness (that God designed for all His creation to have).

    Just know that God knows, He cares, He’s been there and so have others (just not to THAT extent). 🙂

    Love, ((hugs)), and continued prayers for all involved and affected.

  9. Brent , we have been praying at church for all the families that were involved in the accident. Mike and I had no idea one was your nephew. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. We will continue to pray for everyone involved .

  10. Brent, thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts on such a horrible event. I went to Harding with Toby and Deb. Praying for Drew’s comfort and healing, and for all of those who are mourning.

  11. If read your post out loud to my family and friends at work. So many here in Searcy are praying and lifting these families up. God be with you all. Please tell Drew to hang in there. He will be an ambassador for many.

    • Thanks Mandy! Drew is hanging in there. He is being a good patient, polite to the nurses, although still hurting. Toby sent us a picture of him walking in the hall with the therapist, so that was good to see. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers for all the kids.

  12. We have been praying for these families. Your post is well-written and gives glory to God in the face of this tragedy. We’ve been hugging our son more and looking forward to Ian’s return from OC in April. He’ll be driving, so we just have to trust him to God’s care–no matter what. Miss you all!

  13. I am so grateful to God for giving you the gift of healing with words. How sad it would be if we had to go through these last days without songs of worship, prayers rising every moment of the day, tears flowing freely, healing hugs from brothers and sisters, words that help us make sense of it all, brothers and sisters in Louisville going the extra mile, cellphones that let us hear Drew’s voice and see him walking the hall with the therapist. “How great the Father’s love for us”.

  14. After we all spoke to Drew on speaker phone with you, I thought about jotting down some of what Toby and Drew said but here I am reading a better and richer account than I could have written, with some memories I had forgotten at least to correlate — not being able to touch Drew in the glass as a baby. Brent, thank you for using your gift to share what is a important perspective: that we can’t explain what happened at 1:15 am on a Kentucky interstate, but we can “explain” — as Bruce McLarty put it — the body of Christ and what His body does when we can’t reach our loved ones. We rally and come together in the great love the Father has for us. Thank you again for sharing this and I’ll re-post it as well.

    • Thanks my brother Greg, I won’t soon forget the conversation we had Sunday night, listening to you pray for Drew and the families, hearing the emotion, yet calmness in Toby’s voice and how he has handled everything, and talking to Drew who is such a wonderful young man. Being so proud of my nephews and nieces was something I never thought much about, too wrapped up in my own kids I guess, but one of the great joys in my life is watching all of my nieces and nephews grow stronger and taller, and closer to God every time I see them, and Ashley, Anna and Jacob, are a great source of that uncle pride for me. Love you

  15. Reblogged this on Greg R. Taylor and commented:
    After speaking with our nephew, Drew Taylor, about a horrible accident he was in, my brother and Drew’s uncle Bubba (Brent) wrote a much better account than I could have written, with some memories I had forgotten at least to correlate. Brent, thank you for using your gift to share what is a important perspective: that we can’t explain what happened at 1:15 am on a Kentucky interstate, but we can “explain” — as Bruce McLarty put it — what the body of Christ does when we can’t reach our loved ones. We rally and come together in the great love the Father has for us.

  16. God bless you all my friend. I can’t imagine the horror, only the peace that surpasses understanding… Kelly

  17. Brent, Thank your for your inspirational thoughts! Nicolas Smith was a great young man in our youth group at Buford church of Christ where Connie (Cloer ’80) and I worship. We are having a memorial service on Thursday, March 12 at the building. There is a bunch of loving Christians coming in from Harding to support the family. The response in Louisville, Ky by our brothers and sisters there has been overwhelming to the family! Nothing can make the pain go away but being surrounded by so many loving people has helped tremendously. The father, mother and sister (Richard, Amy and Alexis) returned home from Louisville last night with Nick’s remains. It is hard to imagine how those without Christ can cope when something like this happens. Especially for those so young. Nick is safe in the arms of our God. It is Drew and Abby, Richard, Amy and Alexis who need our prayers for strength to remain strong after this. I can’t imagine how I would have handled something like this when I was in college. I barely made it through those years without a trauma like this. It is a testimony to the faith of these families and their nuturing to see these kids and their devotion to Jesus at such a young age. They are the reason why the church will never fail! God’s plan always works, it’s people that mess up.

    • Hi Stan: Good to hear from you! Thanks for the note and the information about Nick. I didn’t know Nick, but it seems like I do now, ironically. Yes indeed, we continue to pray for Drew, Abby, Richard, Amy and Alexis. This has been painful and we hurt but I’m thankful that God is good as are so many of God’s family including our young folks. Grace and peace, brent

  18. Hi Brent. The news of this tragedy has left us all broken hearted for the families involved. Please know that my family and our church family are lifting up all affected by this.

  19. Thank you Brent for your words & for sharing your thoughts with all of us. Our prayers are for healing and peace both physically and emotionally. My husband is Zach Neal, the Dean of Students at Harding University. You would know me better as Sara Jo Edens (Fred Edens’ daughter) All of us are praying!

    • Hi Sara! It’s wonderful to hear from you. I see you from time to time on FB and of course have followed along and prayed through with your family and with Fred in his health challenges. It’s good to see he’s doing well! Toby told me that Jason came over to Louisville after the accident and was telling Toby he was Drew’s dorm parent…not sure if that’s the term…but anyway, Toby didn’t recognize him and was just walking along in the fog of grief and concern and sleeplessness when Jason said, “Toby, I’m Fred’s boy!” and Toby turned around and gave him a prolonged hug. Great to have Christian friends, especially ones like you and your family that we’ve known for so long and for which we feel such great affection. Love you Sara…bt

  20. Just wanted to let you know that we have been praying for your family and the other families. I am Linda Chaput’s sister and read this on Don’s Facebook page.

  21. Brent Taylor, what a beautiful post! The Harding family makes this a very small world. I had wondered when I heard the name Taylor if there might be a connection. Prayers continue for Drew as he recovers from the pain of his physical and emotional wounds.

  22. Brent, Thank you for writing these words. Drew is a wonderful light to those who have gone through a tragedy and to those who have not. This world is NOT our home, yet so often we think about the here and now instead of the future. I look to Drew’s shining example for comfort in future trials. I look to the people around him at this time and their encouragement and hospitality for someone they don’t even know. Thank God for the body of Christ–one under Him.

  23. Even though I am in New York, I just want everyone to know, that prayers are being said for all parties that were involve in that tragic accident. May God protect and guide you all thru very difficult time.
    Love, Karen Kuhl

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