I first believed in Jesus and who He was when I was 5.
Although, I don’t remember much about that day, I do remember the day that I met Him. It wasn’t face to face, but it was a meeting nonetheless. He was present when I needed Him and showed up when I cried out. It was this day 16 years ago.
December 21, 1999.
It was also the day my oldest sister was killed in a car accident.
I was 8 years old, and, as my mom and step dad went out to see if her car had gone in a ditch along the way home, I lay in my bed with my face buried in a pillow.
We could see the red and blue flashing lights in the dark night from our bedroom window. We knew there had been an accident.
My older sister continued looking out the window. My brothers went up to the attic with a telescope hoping to get a better view. They gave up shortly after and went to the basement to watch TV.
I thought back to the times my mom had read us stories from the Bible, and I began to talk to God.
God, you used to talk to people back then. Why did you stop?
People didn’t really talk about hearing from God when I was growing up, so I assumed He’d just stopped doing it. There was talk of prayer, but never conversation.
Maybe you didn’t. Maybe people just stopped asking to hear from you or stopped listening.
I decided to see for myself if God would talk to me…if I would be able to hear him. I started with a simple question.
God, was there an accident?
I waited, and I thought to myself, “Yes, of course there was, you can see the lights from here.”
And then I heard a new voice. “Yes.” I heard the voice in my ears, as if someone had spoken it aloud, but it was as if He had spoken it just to me…just to my ears.
God, did someone get hurt?
I knew the likelihood that someone was hurt was high, but I was hoping no one was. In my mind I was saying, “No. No.” And then I heard it again. “Yes.”
I paused, unsure of what was happening and whether I really was hearing from God or if it was just my mind.
Is dad going to be sad?
My parents have been divorced my whole life, and I haven’t been able to spend a ton of time with my dad. Back then, he was perfect to me, but I’ve come to realize no one on earth is no matter how badly you want them to be. He was my hero at 8 years old. I think I asked that question because God wanted me to. Because He wanted me to have a heart of compassion for my dad as he and all of us grieved the loss of my sister, and it began that night. I was whispering to myself, “No. I don’t want him to be sad.” Partially because I had never seen him cry, but also because I knew if the answer were ‘yes’ there would only be one reason why. And then I heard His voice. “Yes.”
Is it Krissy?
Immediately after asking that question I started to panic. My mind was saying, “No. No. No. No. It’s not Kris. It’s not Kris. No.” But then I heard Him again. “Yes.” I didn’t want to ask anymore questions, but I felt like I needed to know.
Is she dead?
To this day, my mind has never been in such a state of chaos. There was so much noise, and I was so afraid to know. My whole body was tense as the noise in my mind continued, and for a moment I thought it would be okay. “He usually answers right away,” I thought. It felt like an hour, but it was probably only seconds. In the midst of the noise, I somehow heard this quiet and gentle voice. I knew it was the same voice, but this time it was loaded with something I hadn’t known before. Peace. “Yes.”
My muscles relaxed, and the noise and chaos stopped instantly as I lay with my head in my pillow. I thought, “Did this really happen? Did I hear God?” And in my heart, I knew for the first time the peace that passes all understanding, and I knew Who it came from.
Not 10 minutes later my mom walked up the stairs and stood in our doorway. Her face was red, and tears continued falling down her cheeks as she said, “You guys, Krissy’s dead.” I can still see her standing there. I remember laying there thinking, “I know, mom. She’s with Jesus.”
You see, I was raised in a Christian home. I knew about God. I knew Jesus had saved me, but everything I had learned and experienced pointed to a big and distant God. It was that night I learned His true character…the depth of the love He had for me. As I laid on that bed, God showed me that He was real and personal. He showed me that He wanted me to know Him. He showed me that He isn’t just the God of adults, but He was for little 8 year old me, too. He proved Himself faithful as I called out to Him, and gave me more than I could have asked for. He met me there on that bunk bed.
That night He became more than this big God in a sky that we don’t want to offend. He became more than words in a book. He became mine, and I became His.
God doesn’t require us to be in a fancy building in order to meet Him. He doesn’t require us to use the right words or wear the right clothes. All He requires is all we have to give. Even if that seems like nothing.
Kristen was killed immediately upon impact with another vehicle, and her friend, Heather, was in critical condition for several days. Life support was removed on December 26, and Heather passed away.