When An Important Moment in Life Comes By Surprise

We were in the middle of eating dinner. My phone rang and it said the call was coming from West Palm Beach, Florida. Usually I let calls like that go to voicemail. If it’s important enough they’ll leave a message. For some reason I picked it up. A fellow pastor was on the other end of the line. Now stick with me because this gets a little convoluted. A pastor in Wisconsin had called him because a husband and wife from his parish in northern Wisconsin were at Disney on a mommy and daddy getaway. An important moment was taking place.

You see, The unimaginable happened. The husband suddenly passed away, and they needed a local pastor to go be with the wife at this most difficult of times. I told them that the hospital where they ended up was about fifty minutes away from our house. But I’d get there as quickly as I could. So I hopped in the car and headed out.

I got to the hospital and met the poor woman in the Emergency Room. All I could do was give her a hug. I told her how sorry I was. The nurse gave us a room where we could have some privacy. She cried and told me what happened. She cried some more. They were supposed to go back to Wisconsin this evening. Now their pastor at home was telling their three young children that Daddy wouldn’t be coming back. To their credit, Disney gave the grieving woman a room in the Animal Kingdom Lodge until her parents and father-in-law could join her tomorrow.

I listened to her and let her cry. Before I left for the hospital my wife and I decided we would offer to have her come back home with me so she wouldn’t have to be alone for the evening. She was appreciative of the offer, but declined. I gave her my phone number and told her to call for anything at all. Pretty soon a taxi came to pick her up. Before she left the hospital we prayed. We thanked the Lord for all those who helped and cared throughout this ordeal. We prayed for the kids. The prayer included petitions for peace, comfort, and help. In such an important moment it’s not easy to know how to pray. But pray we did.

Then she got into the taxi. And off she went.

You never know when an important moment will enter your day. Two people who had never met before were able to share faith — the very essence of life — at a time when it was needed more than any other.

This poor woman has a long road ahead of her. I don’t know why this had to happen to her. And I don’t know why, in the grand scheme of things, I was the one chosen to minister to her. But I do know that these most important moments are the reason why faith in Jesus matters. It matters eternally.

Faith in Jesus is the only thing that will help us through any and every surprise life tosses at us. Nurture it. You never know when it’s the only thing that will be able to sustain you.

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6 thoughts on “When An Important Moment in Life Comes By Surprise

  1. Pastor Tom, How strange to say/write that as I will always see you and Louie riding your bikes up the driveway after laying in a field watching clouds pass by, forgetting the time. Talk about having faith…that day will stay with me forever.

    I have enjoyed reading your messages which I get through Facebook. Lucky I can find the on button. God bless you and your family. Louie’s mom aka as Colette

    • Thank you so much! I have such great memories of those carefree days with such a great friend and such good neighbors. So good to hear from you. Hope all is well with you and yours!

  2. Tom, I’m the pastor in West Palm Beach and I just want to affirm your ministry to this poor woman. She has 4yr old twins and another child a couple of years older. One twin is rejoicing that her daddy is in heaven with Jesus. The other can’t peel herself off her teacher, grandparent, pastor, care-giver.
    Thank you for answering the phone and ministering the Gospel to a hurting child of God.

    • Wow, Steve. Thank you so much. I sure wish there were more I could have done. Thank you for calling and giving me the opportunity.

  3. Pastor Tom,
    The words “Thank you” don’t even begin to express my gratitude for the time and love you gave in this situation. You were Jesus’ arms but your ministry touched many more than just the grieving mother in front of you. Here in Wisconsin, the distraught family and friends found a kernel of comfort in knowing that someone was bringing God’s love to their daughter, sister, and friend. When our arms were too far away, God used you to bridge the gap. Thank you for following the Spirit’s leading in answering that call.

    • Dear Dian: It was the very least I could do. I desperately wanted to be able to do more. I’m so glad I could bring even a small bit of comfort to the situation. Sarah, and her whole family, continue to be in my prayers.