August 1, 2008

Lightning Strikes Close to Home

Last Wednesday a violent thunderstorm had rolled through, causing anyone caught outside to run for cover as torrential rain, heavy winds, hail and lightning pummeled our region. By the time the storm ended over 13,000 lightning bolts hit the Philadelphia area. One of them, struck close to home.

As a babysitter ran for safety with her young charge in her arms, a bolt of lightning hit the tall evergreen they were passing. It traveled through the wet ground and into her, through her arms and into the toddler she was carrying. They both were thrown to the ground.

This happened at a local pool—the one my family belongs to.

I received the news shortly after it occurred and was devastated to learn tragedy had pierced the blissful bubble of our family pool. Our swim club is a special place where time’s stood still. Families gather throughout the summer to barbecue on the weekends, socialize on Friday nights, find respite from the heat and cheer for our kids during swim meets. There is a sense of home and belonging you don’t often find.

My heart ached for the parents who received the phone call, “Come right away. There’s been an accident.” For the young lifeguards who witnessed the horror and responded with a professionalism beyond their years. And for the parents who pitched in to help, knowing it could have been one of their own children.

Immediately I sent an email to the ladies in my Bible study asking them to pray. I learned later dozens and soon hundreds of others were doing the same thing. The gates of heaven were stormed with prayers.

It seems those prayers were answered. Miraculously, the little boy seems to be fine and the babysitter was released from the hospital after a few days.

The after-effects of this freak accident have inspired many. Instead of the typical finger pointing and naming blame that often arise after a tragedy, prayer and praise have enveloped the incident. Everyone involved has pulled together to support one another. And our already close-knit pool is even closer.

At last night’s swim team banquet, the lifeguards were publicly praised and recognized for their exceptional response. The parents of the toddler thanked their pool family for the blanket of prayers in which they were wrapped. By the end, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Afterward I spoke to the toddler’s mom. She said she was overwhelmed by outpouring of God’s love and the miracle she witnessed.

Sometimes bad things happen. They just do. But in the midst of this horror, God turned it all for His glory. Each display of love, each act of kindness and each prayer were like stones tossed in a pond causing His goodness to radiate in waves. Because of these living examples, even those far from the epi-center witnessed God in a real and personal way. And what remains is love.

There is so much bad news around us, but “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)

And no matter what news the papers report, we can rest in confidence that the Good News is the best news of all.


Runner Mom said...

Wow! God is so good! I can't imagine what both famlies were going through. Even though it was a terrible and freak accident, God's grace and mercy were evident. I am so glad that everyone's doing better.

Have a great weekend!
Love ya!

Sue J said...

You have captured this all so well. Not having heard this story until now, I feel like I might as well be one of your swim club members.

How could hear this story and not feel totally compassionate? It could have been our neighborhood swim club with the babysitter from across the way. You can't help but identify.

But to see God's presence so clearly is not something that is very often reported. And not just His presence, but His powerful healing and restoration! You all are changed witnesses, as the disciples were. What a story to tell!

Have missed your blog--welcome back!

Peggy said...

Hi Kelli....
I lost my PC for a while and am finally getting most of it back.
That is why I haven't commented lately.
The whole Woodside family prayed for those two children, and we all know that God tells us that whatever we ask in His name and that we have faith, knowing He will answer us, our prayers will be answered.
Praise God for the healing of those children, and for the quick reaction of the lifeguards.
I am also glad that you are back, and that I can post comments to your blog which is a great blessing to us all.
Blessings and Love, Peggy

Justin said...

It is often difficult for me to see God working in the midst of trial and hardship. Thank you, Kelli, for opening my eyes a little bit more to this profound truth.

I pray that God would increasingly give me the eyes of faith to see that trial and hardship are the wisely-chosen tools of a master artist who is creating a wondrous masterpiece to show the world.