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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.