Twice Through a Parent's Worst Nightmare!
by Ramona Pendle
Roads that Lead to Faith
When at age 9 I fell from the top of a tall tree and broke my neck, my life almost ended. At the hospital, I didn’t understand the seriousness of the accident and why everyone was crying and upset. The doctors told my parents that my chances of living were very slim—and if I did live, I would be a paraplegic.
But the little church we attended began to pray. God honored those prayers and restored my health. The doctors compared the x-rays from the day I was admitted to the hospital and the ones taken a few days later. They could not believe they were seeing the same child! From this experience, my family helped me understand that God loved me, and in return, I should love Him.
When I was 12, I joined the church because that was what my parents wanted me to do. When I was 13, we moved to Florida, and I joined a church of a different denomination. Yet, as a member of two churches, no one had ever shared with me that I was a sinner, separated from God. If someone had, I probably would not have believed it because I knew I was a good kid! I had high morals and did all that my parents wanted me to do.
During my high school years, I began to look for meaning and purpose in life. Trying to find ways to handle the little disappointments in life and wanting to be accepted, I joined all the clubs I could. I thought the busier you were the less time you had to think about your problems. As a result, I was often weary and confused. What I thought would give meaning and purpose was not working.
Right after graduating from high school, Bill and I got married. The years when our children came along were happy and exciting. We moved to Gainesville, Florida, and I joined the Civics Club and became active in my church. Feeling I had to do more to please God, I was very busy—but not content. Always searching for more, I decided fulfillment would be found in a job, so I went to work. But that didn’t last long. Happiness was always dependent upon my circumstances. When things were going well, I was happy. When I got a new dress, I was happy. It became a vicious circle of needing more and wanting more. But all the things I worked to get were just “premature junk”—things I could sell in a neighborhood yard sale on the weekend.
Thankfully, realizing that things and activities did not bring happiness and contentment led me to God. In September 1971, during a communion service at my church, I realized my sinful condition. Sin was separating me from God! That night, I invited Jesus Christ into my life, and He accepted me, giving me the purpose and meaning I had always searched for in life. Things became less important to me, and people became much more important.
Roads That Are Rough
One night as I was going to bed, I thought of the beautiful family we had with our three children—Pam, Bryan, and Wayne. On March 23, 1980, our 17-year-old son Bryan had shared his faith in Christ at church. The next Friday night, the whole family had gone out to dinner to celebrate our daughter Pam’s 20th birthday. But the very next morning, the bottom fell out!
Bryan and a friend had left for the beach early in the morning. At about 8:30 we got a call from his friend, telling us that there had been an accident and Bryan was unconscious. I began to pray “Lord, spare Bryan’s life! Don’t take him from us!” When we arrived at the scene, the officer told us that Bryan had not made it. He had died instantly as a result of the accident. How do you handle this kind of news?! Bryan had so many plans! I asked, “Why him, Lord? He was such a good boy!” It was beyond understanding! We cried and cried. Our hearts were broken!
But through the tears and hurt, I felt God’s presence in a very special way. The Bible says: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). God comforted me by giving me a picture of what was happening in heaven. I knew that God had prepared a special place for Bryan there. The Lord carried our family through this very difficult time. He took an emotional mother who cries easily and walked me through this dreadful experience. Having a personal relationship with our big God through Jesus made all the difference in the world. Happiness depends on circumstances, but joy depends on Jesus–and He never changes!
Then I became a grandmother. What joy! Our daughter Pam married and had two beautiful girls (both of whom are now married with children). Our son Wayne also married, and they had three children. But on December 1, 2004, my heart was broken—again! Our son and our pastor arrived at our home at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I was surprised, wondering why they were there. Wayne told us that Pam had been in a bad accident. My response was, “She didn’t die, did she?” I couldn’t believe it could be true! I cried, “Lord we have already walked this path. Why again?” I was not sure I could keep going! Friends came and cried with us, and God used these precious friends to show us God’s love. Pam was a beautiful, godly woman with two daughters, ages 21 and 19. She and her husband were in the ministry. Through our worst nightmare as parents—times two!—we trusted God to be our strength, and He did not fail us. We have the assurance that we will see our children again.
Roads that Give Assurance
We used to say we have “lost” two children, but they are not really lost because we know where they are—in heaven waiting for us! Death does not mean ceasing to be. It is just a separation from us, and only for a while. One day there will be a great reunion! Until then, we continue to run the race with our eyes on the Lord, because His promises are true. Our part is to believe them!
Before Pam died, we had been at her home for one of the children’s graduations. Our son Wayne and his family were not able to be there due to attending a friend’s wedding. I casually remarked to Pam that I missed Wayne and his family and wished they could be there for the graduation and party. Then Pam said something I will never forget, “Mom, you are so concerned about who is not here that you can't enjoy who is here, so why don’t you just enjoy who’s here!” Her advice has helped me so much to enjoy those who are still here with us in this life!
As life moves on, we are now facing new bumps in the road due to my husband’s serious health issues. We have moved to another state to be near our son and his family. We are still running the race, although not as fast as before. We enjoy sweet times with the Lord, reading the Bible and applying it to our lives, praying, and trusting the Lord in all circumstances. We praise Him because He is faithful, and His love endures forever. The joy of the Lord is truly our strength. Our circumstances may be hard, but God is with us every step of the way.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:2, 3, KJV).