“Grace prove itself in history”—Joanne Mahar


The Most Dramatic Day of History

The Day of Christ’s crucifixion was the most dramatic day in the history of the world. On it hung the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and the sacrificial system with its types and promises. It was on that day and hour that the ultimate destiny of each person on earth throughout history hung. On that day Jesus—the Son of God— was crucified. Why? Because He loved us.

Sin carries with it the curse of death, so He became the curse and our substitute as He voluntarily took upon Himself the penalty we deserved. On that day death was conquered once for all. The penalty was paid. Our sins were laid upon Him. The prophet Isaiah—who lived more than  three ouScomhundred years prior—foretold it most beautifully, “All we like sin have gone astray, we are turned everyone to our own way, and God has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. By his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5 KJV).

The writer of the gospel of John uses a little different wording: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Whoever approaches Him in repentance or sorrow for their sins, and accepts the pardon he has secured, receives eternal life.”

This means our debit is paid in full. We are free. We need no longer fear death.

A True Story

I thought to share with you out there a part of a chapter from my book, Shiny Shoes on Dusty Paths volume two. It’s about an event that  happened when I was a ten-year-old child, yet it remains stamped upon my mind  My prayer is that it will bring comfort to grieving hearts.


For those who are perhaps new on this site, I add by way of introduction, that each chapter in my  Shiny Shoes  books is a life experience or a “story in shoes.” The word  shoes, of course, speaks of experiences we all have in our life’s journey. For example one chapter title is: Wet Shoes in Perils of the Deep that tells a true story of how my parents almost drowned when caught in a sudden fierce storm that kept them tossing way into the night, while their canoe was filling with water, and the river they were crossing was populated with hippopotamuses and crocodiles. Another story entitled Hunting Shoes and Lessons from Animals, with the subtitle, They turned and saw two black mambas streak past them… “ It tells the experience of my brothers and myself when two black mambas passed us within inches… Each story has a personal application or devotional thought to uplift the heart of the reader. This chapter is entitled:

Crashing Shoes Headlong Into Trouble

How could I comfort someone in despair… when I myself needed comfort.

From:  Shiny Shoes volume two
1952 Abe K. Portrait

Family just prior to accident. Phil-12 years-old, 2nd from right.

 “We were driving through the desert near Hope, Arizona. Bud, our oldest son was driving while our three youngest children, tired of games and the monotonous scenery of scrub brush and cactus, had dozed off. With my eyes closed I was reviewing the messages I’d prepared to give at the Bible camp in Oklahoma. Suddenly I realized that the van was leaving the road. Dust suffocated breathing while the car kept rolling front-wards, and then side-ways. When it finally jolted to a stop I was propelled outside through the door that had flown open. Getting quickly to my feet I turned around and found Bud bending over our son Phil. “He’s hurt bad Dad,” he said. Mark’s OK but we need to get Mom and Joanne out.

The Enemy Death

We found Mary huddled under the front seat, her back wrapped around Joanne. Lifting and shoving we were able to pull them out. Joanne was unharmed but Mary writhed in pain. Blood spilled from an L-shaped gash on her forehead, but I was more alarmed over her inability to hold up her head.

Although a truck driver had radioed for help, it seemed like hours before the ambulance finally came. The sun beat mercilessly upon us while crowds gathered on the edge of the highway and watched

Finally the ambulance arrived. Mary and Phil were attended first, and since we were far from town, family and friends, the rest of us were allowed to ride along. Sirens blared as we sped across the desert… while twelve year-old Phil lay white and motionless.

Later as I sat in the hospital in Blythe, California… waiting for word or a glimpse of Mary and Phil, I watched doctors and nurses hurry in and out of the emergency wards. Finally a doctor came. “Your son has internal injuries which require surgery, but this must be delayed because he has a cold.”

Instantly I remembered that the children swam till late the night before. Why did I let them?  “Will they be all right Doctor?” I asked desperately.

“We’ll see,” he replied…

I realized the sun was beginning to set. Though I hated to leave the hospital, the children needed some privacy and rest. A nurse recommended a hotel near the hospital… Hurriedly I registered and took the children to our room. Since none of us were interested in eating we huddled together The only thing I could think to do was pray.

Although family devotions were part of our evening routine, this time they were survival. “Help Mommy, help Phil and help us all,” we groaned.

With the children finally bedded down I sat by the window and looked out over the garden lit by flood lamps. The tall palm trees caught my eye reminding me of the land of our adoption. Congo had given us twenty happy years. Mary and I were still a young married couple when we’d set out. There’d been countless hurdles and illnesses, but God had favored us with a fruitful ministry and blessed us with four children. What now?…

 Hearing the door open I turned around. The children entered my room their faces marked by fear and trauma. I drew them close wishing I had the touch that could wipe it all away. We sat together, sometimes sobbing, but mostly silent. At last the first rays of dawn lit the sky.

We left early for the hospital. In addition to the bandages around Mary’s head, weights were hung behind her. When I greeted her, she brushed aside my concern over her and asked about Phil. “If only I could be near him and care for him myself,” she groaned.

The family from Reedley arrived, and after talking together we decided to let them take Mark and Joanne to their home. Meanwhile, Phil’s condition was worsening: though alert his pain was increasing. I went looking for the doctor. “He’s gone,” I was told.

“Gone where?” I asked.

“On vacation.”

“Who can I talk to?”

“He didn’t leave instructions,” was the reply. “He expects to be back in a few days.”

I was upset as I phoned the family.”

The care-givers, noticing that Phil’s condition was becoming critical transferred him to another unit. This distressed Mary even more. “I’ve got to be where I can hear his every whimper,” she insisted. “Please do this for us,” she pleaded.

Seeing her agitation the nurses relinquished and moved him to an adjoining room. I was allowed to stay by his side while Mary lay listening on the other side of the wall.

When I noticed that Phil’s parched lips were moving I leaned close to listen. Bible verses we’d struggled to memorize at our breakfast table memory time, now poured from his mouth. I remembered those breakfast sessions and the many times he’d interrupted with a joke or some prank. Here I now sat listening to those verses and many more I didn’t even know he knew.

When a black nurse walked in Phil smiled. “I want only you to care for me,” he whispered. Her presence, I noticed, had a soothing effect on him. I could understand why.

Hours passed as I watched my fun-loving son slip in and out of consciousness. After blood transfusions he seemed to improve, and I dared to hope. But a short while later he worsened again. I got up and paced the floor, pleading with God to spare him. Eventually I realized that God was asking me to let go. For a while the struggle continued, but finally I could resist no longer. Falling on my knees I prayed, “Lord, if he’s better with you, you can take him . He’s yours.”

1942-03 Philip Joanne 3615

Phil with an orphan friend

Six days after the accident the Lord thought best to relieve our precious Phil from suffering and to bring him into the presence of the “Lover of little children.”

I went to Mary expecting to tell her as gently as possible. But she looked at me and said, “I already know. He’s with Jesus.”

“How did you find out?” I asked.

“I heard a voice within me saying, ‘Phil  is with me and I am with you.’”

I didn’t question that statement; Africans understand this kind of communication.

We clung to each other knowing that this experience would change the rest of our lives…

It was particularly difficult for Mary  who was unable to attend the funeral, but who drew comfort from the presence of another mother who understood first-hand the pain of losing a child…”

The Reality of Hope

The primary lesson our family learned from this experience is  the reality of the hope because Christ’s resurrection  guarantees our own resurrection, and also that of those we love. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 states, “… we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”

In the resurrection morning,

When the trump of God shall sound,

We shall rise, Hallelujah!

We shall rise!

Then the saints will come rejoicing

And no tears will e’er be found,

We shall rise, Hallelujah!

We shall rise. – John E. Thomas, 1904

The term “dead in Christ” mentioned at the end, specifies the dead who believe and have put their confidence and faith in Christ Jesus who bore their sins on the cross. Death is not final. Instead it is the guarantee of life everlasting.

The other lesson we learned is that God uses the experience of the loss of a loved one to prepare us to understand and comfort others going through life-shattering experiences, with the comfort we ourselves have received. A day is coming when all “heirs” to eternal life” will live in the presence of our Savior in a land where tears and sighing are no more.

 With that hope I wish you a most blessed and joyful resurrection Sunday.

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! – Gaither Family

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