On the way to Athens, Ga., that Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help question why Tabitha had to die so young. Death was no stranger to me. I’d seen it too many times before. I knew questioning God was wrong, but I was desperate for an answer. This was a passing of another loved one.
I’d spent the night before her services tossing and turning. I prayed for God to comfort Tabitha’s family, to make it through the funeral services with their sanity still intact.
Then, for some unknown reason I remembered the rainbow I’d seen two days before. I’d forgotten the rainbow. Nor did I make a connection between the two incidents until I remembered the experience the week before and my prayers.
My unanswered prayers. God had not kept all my loved ones safe.
I’d worked practically around the clock the previous eight weeks and missed being with my family. I needed a rest, but was reluctant to leave them for an entire week to attend a conference I’d planned months in advance. My husband instinctively picked up on my indecision. He insisted I go and forget everything, except to relax and enjoy the time away.
After arriving at St. Simons, and sharing the workshop experience with a treasured friend, I was glad I’d gone and delighted in new writer friendships developed throughout the week.
A fleeting late afternoon shower, sent my friend and I running for cover and certainly didn’t do anything to lift my dampened mood. After the rain, we joined the group heading for the auditorium anxious to listen to the speakers on our last afternoon at the conference.
After, my friend and I walked and talked sharing memories of the day, when suddenly I glanced upward and noticed a glorious rainbow brushed across the horizon.
“Look at that beautiful rainbow.” I said. “Wait, there’s another one forming on the left. Have you ever seen anything like it? I wonder if a double rainbow has a special meaning?”
My friend lifted her hand to shade the sun from her eyes. “Oh It’s magnificent,” she said, then turned toward me. “You know what? I think that’s a sign something wonderful is about to happen.” She grinned as we walked toward the conference room.
I glanced down at my watch. The time was a little after five o’clock.
“I think tonight’s going to be special for us,” she said.
Indeed it was special, when that night we both won awards in the writing contests we’d entered.
We headed to grab a cup of coffee before returning to our room. “Still, as happy as I am, I can’t shake the feeling, even as supreme as rainbows are, there is something meaningful and sad about this one,” I said. “What are your thoughts?”
“You may be right,” she commented. “We can’t know the future.”
An old familiar feeling set in, and it knew it wasn’t going away anytime soon.
Since my early adult years, I dreamed dreams that sometimes came true. Later in life as I grew as a Christian, the visions and discernment began. Not understanding they were from God, I frequently became upset when they infiltrated my sleep and filled my heart.
“They’re gifts and blessings from God, honey, that’s why you see them,” my mom explained. “God doesn’t allow everyone to have dreams and visions as you do. He shows you these things so you will pray about them.”
It took many years for the impact of her words to fully register with me, to pray for guidance in the situation, when I felt the pull in my heart.
An urgency swept through me when I recalled the rainbow, and again, I felt honored and a responsibility to intercede in prayer. “Father God, I don’t know what this means or what is about to happen. Please send your Angels to watch over and keep my loved ones safe. I pray, Lord, you will prepare the heart of whomever is facing a trial and wrap them in your loving arms. Amen.”
When I returned home the next day, the answering machine bleeped repeatedly. One message was from my daughter-in-law. I called her at once. The tremor in her voice alerted me that something was terribly wrong. My heart hammered and my blood ran as ice while she spoke.
“I have some bad news. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. Tabitha’s been in an accident…a horrible car accident. She was killed instantly yesterday afternoon, sometime between five and five-thirty.”
Within minutes of the time the rainbow appeared to me that previous Friday afternoon, my twenty-year-old niece’s fate was sealed.
I was in shock, heartbroken and angry that God had taken her. She’d been way too young. Unbelief pushed me to ask her to repeat what she’d just told me.
“Why, Tabitha? Oh, God why?” I questioned. I buried my face in the towel I was holding, and wept for Tabitha and the anguish I knew my younger sister was experiencing.
Tabitha had been an angel here on earth. Always a kind, considerate niece, and a sweet loving daughter to my now distraught sister and her family. I’d attended too many funerals in the past three years, and that she’d been taken so young, didn’t make any sense at all.
I left the funeral home and began the two-hour trip home. My heart was empty and I felt as though I were suffocating. I could only imagine the pain Tabitha’s parents endured. They had been so brave. Even though their hearts were crushed, they had smiled through the ordeal of thanking everyone who had attended her service.
I turned the radio up loud and tried to drown my thoughts. Deep down I knew nothing would ever be the same. I wanted to run, but there was no place to run, no place to hide. There was nothing I could do, except pray for them.
I scrambled to find the small notebook I always kept on the seat beside me and a pen. I scribbled words that flooded inside my head, which I had no control. God was giving me a poem for Tabitha. One of the lines in the poem gave me a peace that our Tabitha truly was with God.
A new Angel laughed, and beheld the King.
A still voice whispers reminding me of these words when I pray. “Not my will, Lord, but thine.” God had answered my prayers. Tabitha was safe. Safe in the arms of God. He had wrapped me in His loving arms and given me a measure of peace.
Tabitha’s early death reaffirmed we don’t have the promise of tomorrow. But God promises not to put anymore on us than we can endure, and that our children are gifts from Him entrusted to us for but a little while.
I believe God gave me the moment with the rainbow to wonder in and remember that it is only one of His promises.