Sixteen: The Worst Day of My Life
By Jim Gray
On a sunny
winter afternoon, I was sitting in the boardroom of a large regional airline
in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In this meeting were the chairman of the board
of the airline and the president of a swiftly growing vacation company.
The executives from these two companies were sitting down to talk about
doing business together. I was the one who brought these two men together.
This meeting was the first move in my master plan to start my own marketing
We were all
chatting casually when the airline chairman’s assistant called him
out to take a quick phone call. I sat back in my chair and the president
of the vacation company gave me a wink. I smiled back and looked out the
window. I could see the planes taking off and landing. There were many
thoughts running through my mind at that moment. Foremost
was my absolute belief that I was going to make a lot of money from this
deal. I thought of my wife back in Las Vegas and I imagined the smile
she’d have on her face when I told her how well everything went.
I began to congratulate myself. I would make my first million from the
deal that was about to be struck in this room. And my eyes drifted again
to the huge picture window. Another big plane floated off the runway.
my cell phone buzzed. Out of habit, I checked the caller ID and I could
see it was my office. The chairman wasn’t back yet, so I decided
to take the call. I got up from my chair, flipped my phone open and said,
“Yeah?” It was my receptionist. Her voice was shaking.
the highway patrol just called and they need you to call them.”
don’t know. They wouldn’t tell me. They gave me a number for
you to call. You need to talk to Officer Davidson.”
for my pen and scribbled the number on a Post-it. I walked out of the
boardroom and into the hallway. I noticed that my palms were beginning
to sweat as I punched in the number.
My name is Jim Gray. Is Officer Davidson available?”
I was asked
to hold. For some reason, I noticed that the hall I was standing in was
is Officer Davidson.”
What’s going on?”
Gray, your wife and your daughter have been in a serious car accident.”
Suddenly, all I could seem to hear was the ringing in my ears.
Gray your daughter is fine.”
my wife alive?”
not a doctor.”
hours after those words ripped into my brain I stood over the broken and
bloody body of my wife in an emergency room. A surgeon told me that they
had done all they could, and now it was in God’s hands.
In all of
my 40 years, it was the single worst moment of my life.
What do you
do when you are suffering so badly that you are unable to worship? What
do you do when everyone around you is singing with hands aloft rapturously
experiencing intimacy with God in an act commonly defined as worship and
you stand cold as a stone, feeling nothing? What do you do when this cold
feeling begins to metastasize into a cancerous wall between you and your
difficult questions. However, as with all things, we can look to the example
set by Jesus for reliable guidance in searching for answers. And I think
that we see the answer in a grove of olive trees, in a place called Gethsemane.
walked up the Mount of Olives on that night, He knew He was only hours
from His crucifixion. He had a deep understanding of the physical and
emotional torture He would endure before a single nail was driven into
His body. He knew that a moment was looming when He would actually find
Himself separated from his Father. He knew He was going to bear the full
wrath of almighty God for the sin of mankind.
In his gospel,
Mark tells us that the knowledge of these things filled Jesus with horror
and deep distress. Luke describes Jesus’ emotional state as an agony
of spirit that caused sweat mixed with blood to run down his face.
At this point
in the story it is most interesting to note what Jesus does not do. He
doesn’t put on a brave face. He doesn’t suggest that John
go get his guitar and they sing a few praise songs. He doesn’t smile
and “claim the victory.” He doesn’t stand in the midst
of His friends and with hands raised, thanking God for all the good times.
say that worship was conspicuously absent in Jesus’ behavior.
go so far as to say that Jesus does something decidedly un-worshipful.
He walks a short distance and throws Himself on the ground. Face down
in the dirt, Jesus composes a prayer. But again, we must look at what
is absent. Does Jesus begin with “hallowed be Thy name?” Does
He recount all of His many blessings? Does He list the many wonderful
attributes of His Father?
His croaking prayer begins with, “Father, please…” Jesus
does what all suffering Christians do. He goes to His Daddy and makes
a request. Facedown. In the dirt.
obedient. Obedience is worship. Even though Jesus was suffering terribly
in the Garden of Gethsemane, He didn’t let His suffering derail
Him from what He knew He had to do. He followed through on what he knew
God required of him.
Romans 12:1, instructs us this way: Therefore, I urge you, brothers,
in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Paul tells us: Be like Christ. Do what is required. Live according to
the scriptures. Why? Because that is worship. And worship is the constant,
natural state of the Christian.
acts of obedience that you are ignoring because you are paralyzed by suffering?
I urge you to make a list of these things that you know you need to be
doing. Put them in order from easiest to most difficult. Once you have
completed your list, resolve that you are going to begin to do these things,
starting with the easiest first. And then begin. And do not give up. Start
over one million times, if you have to. As you do these things, remember
that you are engaged in a powerful act of worship.
Do you not
feel very “worshipful?” Is the “worship” portion
of Sunday service a little dry for you? Before you let this add to your
suffering, check yourself. Are you doing what’s required of you,
according to the Scriptures? If you are, then you are fully engaged in
a proper act of spiritual worship as Paul describes it in Romans 12:1.
Just because your feelings may not agree, it doesn’t mean it’s
and I were playing on the swings in our back yard recently. Storm clouds
had been gathering for most of the afternoon and I began to see the first
drops of rain bounce off the grass. I said, “Liv, we gotta go inside
now. It’s starting to rain.” And without pause or hesitation,
Olivia said right back to me, “No daddy, let’s dance in the
rain.” Immediately she ran out into the middle of the yard and with
an upturned face, closed eyes and out-stretched arms, she began to turn
herself in circles.
Dad! It’s fun!”
ridiculous, I stood next to her and spread my arms with my face to the
sky, turning in circles.
I told you! It’s fun!” my daughter giggled.
In my own
life I have found that suffering and worship are a bit like this picture.
Inevitably, life will soak you with cares and pain. But a dance is still
possible. It all starts with a simple act of obedience.
Jim Gray is husband to Becky Gray (who slowly continues to improve) and
father to Olivia Gray. He is a partner in a local marketing firm. He became
a Christian when he was 12.