The dwelling was dark and only the loud and drawn out snores of her father broke the night’s silence. It was an hour and twelve minutes before the 2:13 train would come squealing by the mobile home park. Inside this double-wide, four bedroom home only one person was awake. The snores of her father weren’t what kept her up, her eyes staring at the ceiling, her thoughts churning like an washing machine. No, it was a new awareness brought forth by one man’s testimony at church that night.
Brother Cade had once been one of the community drunks, he had even often struck his wife in his intoxicated rages. Then his own son had stood before him, his then fourteen-year-old son, with a promising baseball future but who had a zeal for the Lord had confronted his father’s sin. Carlton had reproached his father in love but with equal truth. Brother Cade had refused to admit he listened, had shoved Carlton against the living room wall, and tried even to punch him in the face, missing only in his impaired condition.
Carlton had looked his father right in his eyes with tears sliding down his face and said, “I am praying for you Dad. I love you. I can’t be a silent witness to you wrecking your own life. I won’t let you continue to hit Mom. So you can hit me. I will be the one waiting for you to make it home, you can take your anger out on me instead. But I will always be praying for you. Always hoping God will get through to you, even if it means taking my life to open your heart, I will ask God to do as He wills. Mom and Mindy are praying too.”
That summer, only five months later, Brother Cade had been drinking and should never have been behind the wheel of his Ford truck as he weaved the truck toward home. Carlton and his mother and younger sister Mindy had been returning from an away baseball game in the family station wagon. Mindy had been asleep so she never knew before the accident that it was her father’s truck that sped through the red light toward them. But Brother Cade had seen his wife and son’s face, they had known it was him as the two vehicles smashed into one another. The truck had slammed the station wagon into the brick retaining wall of the park.
In a few moments Brother Cade nearly lost his wife, his son and his daughter. He remembered Carlton’s confrontation, his promise to ask God to open his dad’s heart even if it meant his own life. It almost had.
Brother Cade found God that night by the side of the road in the midst of the swirling police, fire and rescue lights and controlled frenzy. Carlton would never play baseball again he had been paralyzed from the waist down. Mindy was spared major injury but bore a scar across her lovely face. Their mother, Karen, had been unconscious for two weeks from head trauma.
Brother Cade had looked at the young people and told them to never discount what God might do through them. Carlton had been the way God got Brother Cade’s attention, for he had dared to tell his father the truth, present the gospel and offer himself as a sacrifice for his dad’s salvation.
Now in the darkness another young person pleaded for God to use her to reach the heart of another lost father. Her prayers were silent but they were heard by the One who they were meant to be heard by.
“Pour me out Lord, empty me, just don’t let Daddy die without You. Use me as You will Abba Father.” She prayed as sleep claimed her at last.
The 2:13 train was right on time and as the last of its bumping, grinding and squealing died away all the residents of the green and white double-wide finally slept. No one knew yet how the then fourteen-year-old daughter’s prayers would be answered.
To be continued…