Life Happens

Lightning never strikes twice, right? I ran across this story in Homiletics magazine:

British officer Major Summerford was serving in the army in February 1918 in the fields of Flanders when he was knocked off his horse by a flash of lightning, paralyzing him from the waist down. After retiring, he moved to Vancouver. While fishing one summer day in 1924, he was injured again when lightning struck the tree he was resting against. In 1930, recovered from his paralysis, he was taking a walk in the countryside when lightning found him again. He finally succumbed to his injuries two years later – a victim of three lightning strikes. But lightning sought him out one last time. In 1934, a bolt of lightning destroyed a tombstone in a cemetery. Guess whose tombstone.

What are we to take away from this man’s unfortunate experiences? First, don’t hang around with anyone named Summerford. Second, we’re headed into summer and need to pay attention to weather alerts and warnings. Third, life happens.

The third one demonstrates that we don’t have control over much. We don’t like that truth. In a broken and fallen world, people get sick … misfortune strikes … pain attacks … fear threatens … death comes.

On a beautiful Friday morning, Greg Byrd was flying his small plane, accompanied by two of his sons, Phillip and Christopher, and Christopher’s fiancée, Jackie Kulzer. They had left Asheville early and touched down in Atlanta to top off the fuel in his Piper Saratoga. They were headed to Oxford, Mississippi to celebrate the graduation of Greg’s youngest son, Robert, from Ole Miss. About a mile from the airport, things went horribly wrong. While attempting an emergency landing on I-285, the plane clipped a truck and crashed. All aboard were killed.

For some in Atlanta, the whole thing was terribly inconvenient. Traffic, always heavy on the perimeter, just stalled. People were stuck or had to find alternate routes. Many had no idea what had happened. When the tragic news broke, sympathy and grief replaced frustration and annoyance.

People of faith are not immune to the suffering of this life. We believe in a God who somehow draws even nearer in those times that hurt or confuse us. If we cannot live in hope and trust, our faith must seem empty or in vain. There will come a day when darkness will be no more. Until then …“Lord, my heart Is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, now and always” (From Psalm 131).

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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