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Defining Moment

All of us have those moments in our lives that leave a permanent mark us. There are moments of un-measurable joy when you never want to leave it. Like when the most beautiful girl you have ever seen somehow says yes; when you experience the birth of a child; when your eyes lock with the women you love across an airport after a long absence from each other; the moment that you realize that all your hard work has been recognized and that you are being rewarded with a promotion; and the most important moment when the God”s love and mercy become more than just a concept but a reality to you. I have had and can name dates for a few of these experiences along with others not listed.

There are also those moments of heartache that mark us as well. Times of great loss that shake us to our very core, and yet give us the opportunity to stretch beyond what we are certain is our breaking point. I have also experienced my fair share of these moments. One such occurrence happened in the early morning hours of July 6 1996.

It was a Saturday morning, and I awoke early to the sound of rustling in our famiy”s kitchen. It was just before 7 and my dad, ever the early riser, had probably already been up for more than an hour. I was 15 at the time and prone to staying up late, especially in the summer, so I was not exactly wide awake. I stumbled out of my bedroom to see what he was up to………… Sorry choked up there and holding a tear back from falling on the keyboard.

As I came out he explained that he was taking my uncle and cousins down to do a little fishing and asked if I”d like to go with them. I didn”t even know why I was awake at that moment, so I respectfully declined the offer. Had I known this was the last conversation I was ever to have with my father, I”m sure I would have kept him there with something witty and profound, however; I didn”t so I went back to bed and he went on his way.

The rest of the morning is a bit of a blur. I was next awakened not by rustling in the kitchen but by desperate cries from my grandmother saying that my dad was in the water. I didn”t know what was happening, but I knew something was very wrong. I threw on shoes and ran outside to grab my bike to ride down to where I knew they were. By the time I got down there, the ambulance was arriving too. They loaded him up and drove him to the closest hospital. I threw my bike in the back of our truck and rode with my uncle who followed the ambulance. My mom, brother, and sister arrived afterward not far behind us.

After what in ways seemed like an eternity and in other ways seemed like only a matter of seconds, someone came out to tell us that he had passed away. My mind couldn”t process it, and honestly it still can”t. The man that I was certain was always going to be there for me was gone. To those of you who convince yourselves that kids can be rational and not blame themselves for things that are clearly not their fault, I submit to you as evidence a 15 year old boy who convinced himself that he was responsible for his father”s death because he didn”t stop him from going fishing, or he didn”t go himself.

This moment of tragedy was a moment that permanently marked my life. It was also a moment where God”s love became more than just a concept to me; for in those days after July 6, 1996, I felt Him in a genuine way. There is nobody that can convince me He isn”t real and He doesn”t care about us.

There are moments in our lives that permanently mark us, moments of joy and moments of sorrow. I”ve had my share of both, and I”ve seen God”s undeniable love and faithfulness in them all.

12 Responses to “Defining Moment”

  1. Angi says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Phil. I always knew your father had passed away but I didn’t really know when, or how. I know how hard it can be to share personal, painful things with people you’re close to, let alone put it out there on a blog for the world to see. I’m thankful that this moment helped turn you into the man you are today, though…it would have been so easy to let bitterness, anger and guilt throw you the other direction, but you refused and instead let God shape your life. Everyone who knows you is blessed and I am glad I can call you my friend. 🙂

    • philip says:

      Thanks Angi, it may not be easy; but at times it’s necessary just to get it out there. I’m glad I can call you my friend as well. 🙂

  2. Somehow I didn’t fully wake up until the ambulance was already coming up from the field. I never saw him at all that morning and don’t even remember the last conversation we had. But like you said, I felt God very close in those days in a multitude of ways and through people who loved and cared so deeply. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I can’t go back to “normal” life. God is just too good.

    • philip says:

      Yeh He definitely positioned us to have the right people around us and those that were obiedent to be there still amazes me. No need to live “normal.” Thanks Jason!

  3. Susan Taylor says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Phil. I am blessed by your friendship and honesty.

  4. Jeannita says:

    You and Jason are become great men of God in my eyes, I am very proud of both of you and know Dad would be too. He loved you so much and I see that in you both of you how you care and uplift people that you come in contact with. God is doing mighty things in you both and will continue too. Thank you for being great sons and men of God.
    Love you Mom

  5. Jenna says:

    I never post on these but I always read them and enjoy them. Im not sure why but i was actually wondering about this a couple days before you published it.

  6. Touching story bro’…your (and Jason’s) life are a wonderful tribute to someone who sounds like a great man. Thanks for the sharing of a defining moment.

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