I sit here tonight crying, grieving really. The odd thing is that my breakdown was triggered by the death of someone I don’t even know. But it could have been me. Maybe it should have been me.
About seven weeks ago I was in a rollover car accident. People on the scene, the emergency room doctor and nurses, others who saw my car, could not believe that I walked away. In fact, my only injury was a compression fracture in my L1 vertebra which I’m told should eventually heal to the point of only occasionally feeling it on cold mornings (the fate of aging). I was thankful that it was not worse, that I did not sustain serious injuries or even die. I felt God’s presence with me as my car was rolling and believe that He protected me that day (as He has many other days).
About a week ago, Densel Ball, the pastor at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church in Overland Park, Kansas, was also in a rollover car accident. He was thrown from his rolling vehicle and sustained severe head trauma and other internal injuries and broken bones. He had been in a medically induced coma while the doctors worked at getting the brain swelling to go down. There was no brain activity except for the brain stem which controls autonomic functions.
I heard about it the day after the accident from a common friend’s Facebook post requesting prayer for him. I was immediately drawn to the situation having just been in a similar accident and survived. I prayed. Many others prayed: his family, friends and church. I saw on FB feeds that other churches were praying. Prayer chains were being alerted. God certainly heard all of those prayers yet Rev. Ball died today at 2:41 CDT.
It was when I saw the news of his passing that I began to cry and haven’t stopped. I scrolled through Rev. Ball’s FB page moved by the number of comments by people whose lives Rev. Ball had touched. I continued to cry as I read how he encouraged so many in their faith in Jesus. I could barely read through my tears the testimonies of lives changed because of the life of Densel Ball.
As I looked at the pictures of the Ball family is when I really lost it. The pictures seemed to portray the love felt by his wife Michele, daughter Jackie and son Ty. Now they have lost their husband and father. Gone, just like that. Without warning or time to prepare. Without an opportunity to exchange that last hug and “I love you!”. Gone.
As a Christian, there is some comfort in knowing that those who die knowing Jesus as their Savior are taken out of this life of pain and sorrow and into the joy and glory of God’s presence. But often that comfort does not adequately relieve the fresh pain of losing someone you love.
The Balls’ loss made me think of my own family. Had I died in my car accident, I would have been out of pain. I would have been living it up in the presence of my Creator and Savior, but my family would still be here…without me. I’m not suggesting that I’m that wonderful of a husband and father, but I am their husband and father so I would like to think they would miss me some. Thinking of their sorrow is what brings me sorrow and what I believe would have been the tragedy of my accident if I had died, not that I was dead but that I was gone.
I’m not sure if it is the same with everyone who comes close to dying suddenly, but my experience has made me think about my life and especially what I have given to others. As I read the testimonies of the people who Densel Ball had given so much to, I knew that he had made a big difference in the lives of many, many people. He had made a big difference in this world. It seems like if anyone should be able to continue living and loving and giving in this world it should be Densel Ball.
But these two facts are true: Densel Ball is dead. I am alive. And these two facts make me ask the question,
Why am I alive?