Monday September 28th, a day like many days in our family, filled with the craziness of having three boys under the age of three, work and home life, and trying to do it unto the Lord. As God would have it, the computers at Patricks work went down, causing him to come home early from work, which in turn bumped his meeting with the young man he disciples to be that afternoon so he could spend that evening with us. While with this young man they were discussing the end times, and he kind of sat back and as he was crossing his arms he said “Hey, if God wants to take me, I’m ready.”
Patrick came home from discipling and did the usual bath time routine with the boys, putting them to bed and having “talk time with daddy,” and praying over them. Several hours later He went into check on them, and our oldest happened to be awake, Patrick whispered to him “daddy loves you so much Peyton” and he replied holding his hands outstretched as wide as he could “I love you this much daddy.” Patrick and I had a sweet time together talking about marriage, eternity and walking with Christ. We talked about death and the assurance of salvation. He held me and told me how much he loved me, was attracted to me and thought I was beautiful. Then we prayed together and went to sleep. We were awakened several times by our toddler dealing with fear throughout the night, so Patrick decided to go into work early since he was awake anyways. I told him how handsome he looked in his suit that morning and he kissed me good bye and told me how much he loved me, to have a good day and Ill see you tonight.
The boys and I headed out to bible study, where we were talking about Revelation. I had just finished sharing about how studying this gives me eternal eyes and strength to trust God no matter what I face, having no idea that I was about to walk through the greatest trial of my life. Moments later my phone rang. I ignored the call the first time from the unknown number and then the spirit prompted me to answer the second time it rang and that it was about my Patrick. I stepped outside the door and was told Patrick was sick, had fallen, was at the hospital and they were sending a law enforcement vehicle to pick me up (my husband was a certified peace officer for the state of Georgia.) I ran back in and interrupted the discussion and told them what happened, my group gathered around me and prayed over me. I ran down to figure out who would be able to take my children so I could go to the hospital. Just an hour earlier I had texted Patrick and told him how proud he would be of the boys that just walked into their class so good that day, little did I know that he was already in the presence of the Lord for about hour at that point.
Childcare figured out, I stood in the rain with my mother in law who was pacing and waiting with me for the vehicle to arrive. I waited for an hour and half, Bible study came and went and I was still waiting. BUT God was so sovereign in that, during that time everyone else found out my husband had died and they were all praying for me. Now thinking back on it I wonder what that view of us waiting in the rain looked like with spiritual eyes. We were surrounded by the presence of angels and the Lord, and the Spirit of God was hovering over me bringing scripture to mind, and raining down His peace that passes all understanding. As we drove there I couldn’t get a song out of my mind about the peace of God, and I was just praying for the Lord’s will to be done and thanking God for the amazing night He had given us. The Lord was near, it was as if I could hear Him say, “Remember all of this, every detail’.
When the car stopped in front of the hospital I ran as fast as I could in the rain and puddles and was going to see my man. I ran in and someone escorted me past security, they had been waiting for me.I ran into a hall way with a bunch of law enforcement and the rest of Patrick’s family who had been there for hours at this point. When I saw everyones eyes I knew. It wasn’t a hospital room it was a hallway. There was no body, just people with shock written all over their faces. They sat me down and told me, he was gone. My healthy 30 year old husband who I loved more than life was gone to be in the presence of Jesus. His heart went out of rhythm and he died. I whispered “He gives and takes away, blessed be His name, He is good.” Then I began to sing under my breath (this video gives more of these details.) Minutes later God prompted me to talk to everyone that was there about eternity and about Jesus. My heart was racing, it was uncomfortable, but God was going to get me through, and if there is anything Patrick would have wanted was for people to know this life is temporary and Jesus is all that matters. At the hospital I asked one of our mentors if they would preach the gospel at the funeral and that we are praying God uses this to draw many people to Himself. After that we saw his body but for a moment. It didn’t look like the happy, funny, handsome, spirit filled man who I was one with. It was a shell. The Spirit in us really does make you who you are. We stayed a little while longer, but there was nothing else to do but grieve. They handed me a bag of his belongings, his badge, watch, wallet and precious wedding ring, and then I walked out as a widow.
We arrived back at my brothers house, where my children were, and I had to nurse my 3 month old baby who hadn’t taken a bottle, along with responding to a phone call regarding Patrick’s body as he was an organ donor. People were going to get his heart, 2 people were going to get the gift of sight, and 20 people new skin. Is this real? Are we really talking about my husband this way? Hard reality, I mean I felt like I just heard he was dead, and now we are talking about his body parts. This was hard. But also a blessing to see how his death was going to effect people physically so they could have new life. Little did I know this was just the beginning of what God was going to do to bring life in the midst of my husbands death.
I had to tell my boys what happened.“God is your daddy now.” Peyton was to turn three the next day, and said all the time how his daddy was his hero. He was best buddies with his daddy as all of us were. His world and his brothers world was changed forever. Oh how I thanked the Lord that my are so young. “Oh God use this pain for Your glory”I kept praying, because it is SO hard. Is this real life? I kept thinking that. But God was supernaturally upholding us.
That afternoon as family and friends from all of the United States came in to come be with us, and as prayers were being lifted up all throughout the world, all I could think of is I have no guilt and no regrets. Nothing I would have done differently, nothing I would have said differently. God had given us the best way to go into eternity, living each moment with intentionality. Stories upon stories flooded our social media accounts of what an eternal impact Patrick had on this world. Things I had never heard, things that would have been a secret unless something like this happened, because Patrick was the most humble man. WOW! Tears filled my eyes as people told me how much he meant to them.What an amazing man, God used him to make such a mark for His name in the 30 short years he lived. We were only just seeing the beginning of how this was shaking the world.
That night my boys kept asking where daddy was and my 21 month old wouldn’t go to sleep because he was crying for daddy. At this point in his life, he had never even said mommy because we are all about daddy in our home. As I rocked him I cried over the thought that my precious boys no longer have an earthly daddy, our world would never be the same. I sang through the tears “because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.” Oh the only hope we have is Jesus, the only way we could stand was because of Jesus. We were going to make it, but oh the sorrow.
That day my best friend, husband, father of my boys, funniest person I know, partner in life, lover died and with him died all the dreams we had, dreams of my future, and my heart that was one with him died too. But oh how the Lord used death to bring about such life. We have only just begun to see the Lord’s work in using His story for His glory. Hundreds have come to know Jesus as the only way, have gone from being luke warm to burning hot for Christ. God is using this to make His name known. Oh how He is using this gut wrenching, unbearable pain for His glory. And our prayer continues to be “use us.”
As it rained and poured for weeks to come, the heavens were weeping with us. But through rain I am reminded growth comes. God is growing His kingdom and that makes is all worth it. For His glory we stand.