“Please, come quickly, Mrs. Peggy!”
The call came just as my fellow student missionaries and I were sitting down to dinner at Mrs. Peggy’s home, as we did each Friday evening.
Mrs. Peggy, our campus nurse practitioner, was still holding the phone when several students burst through her door. “Mrs. Peggy, please come to the dorm right away to see Sandy!”
Mrs. Peggy and I rushed to the girls’ dormitory, where we found Sandy in critical condition. We did everything we could to save her life, but in the end, we lost her to unknown causes. Sandy was 17 and admired by her classmates for her friendliness, leadership, integrity, and relationship with Jesus.
School was canceled for the next week, providing me with an opportunity to reflect and spend time with the other missionaries. We were still grieving a bus accident that had killed one of our students and injured several others. For me, Sandy’s death was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
One day that week we watched the movie Cast Away about a man whose plane crashes, leaving him stranded on an island for several years. While parts of the movie are emotive and thought provoking, I’d have never called it sob-worthy. But as I watched it, emotions welled up within me, and the floodgates could not have opened wider in a room full of dry-eyed, confused friends. I tried to explain that there were several reasons I was crying, but really it was because things aren’t as they’re supposed to be.
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Romans 8 speaks of all creation groaning and laboring with birth pangs, waiting to be delivered from the bondage of corruption. I had become aware of the bondage all around me. It was in the empty bags and trash being blown by the wind. It was in the emaciated stray dogs scoping out piles of burning garbage for food. It was in the woman sitting under the stairs of an overpass in the middle of the night, rocking an infant on her lap while her two other children slept nearby. She was selling packets of tissues for the equivalent of US$0.07. People limped up and down the aisles of the train selling pens or passing out tracts, hoping for a donation. Others sat barefoot on the ground, begging for money. These things were not new to me, nor had I been unaffected by them before. But I had had enough. How far all this was from what God had wanted for us!
I ached for the broken heart of God, knowing that I had seen the least of His pain. How long, O Lord, until all things are made right again? How long until every person and animal has food and shelter? How long until we are no longer afraid? Until no one is lonely and everyone is understood? Until the water is pure and the air is fresh? Until the last tear falls? How long until Sandy is raised to meet her best Friend in the clouds of glory?
I long for that day when we’ll begin to spend eternity experiencing life the way God intended it to be from the beginning. Come, Lord Jesus!
Photo above is Sandy at age 17.