I met Randall when he was just six years old, the youngest of three siblings, one brother Mickey, and older sister Nancy, who was to become a lifelong friend. But at thirteen, we rarely thought of the future.
It was fun to go to her house. Since I was an only child, I thought her little brothers were funny and cute. But time moved incredibly fast, and the little kid Randall grew up, married, and was now a young father himself. Nancy and I also had established homes of our own, and we remained close friends.
As I reflect back on those times, I see how the families of our friends become a very real part of our lives as well. The joys, as well as the sorrows, cross over into the fabric of our world, and in many ways affect who we are.
How could we ever forsee what was ahead in each of our lives? We all journey through the time given to us, never knowing what may take place.
Such was the time in my friend’s life. Although she got involved in a serious car accident which could have been fatal, her life was spared. But the injuries to her neck required her to be in a neck brace for three months. Three hot Oklahoma months.
But now gratefully, the injury was healed, the brace removed and soon it would be her birthday. A double cause for celebration. Nancy had weathered the storm. God had brought her through.
Yet unseen was to be the greatest test of her faith. On the day of her birthday, October 21, she received an early morning call too early for anyone to be calling to wish her a happy birthday.
As she picked up the phone, her mother began to tell her that Randall had been shot, murdered by another man.
Randall, son, brother, husband, and young father of a two year old daughter. In a moment of time, his life was ripped away by some unknown man, a stranger. As she listened in disbelief, all reasons for celebration were extinguished.
I remember so well Nancy calling me. I cried out at the news of this crime. How could this be? Randall, quiet, easygoing, well liked, someone you could count on, murdered? Questions, shock, no words to describe the horror of this death. A young father whose little girl would never know her daddy. A sister whose baby brother was murdered on her birthday.
How does one get through the grief and agony of their loved one whose life has been cut short by another? Only by the Grace of God. Nancy had found Him faithful before, and now would be a greater test of faith.
The final moments of Randall’s life were never fully known. One source said he was mistaken for someone else. The man who took his life by shooting him six times, was sentenced to prison.
For the families who are left behind, who have to come to grips with a sudden, unexplained, violent death, there has to be some closure. For Nancy and her brother Mickey, it meant letting God be the judge, choosing to remember the good times with their brother.
For the little daughter, now grown who has no memory of her dad, it could mean Father’s Day being only a memory of a crime committed that affected her life. A father she would never know. However,
in this case, Nancy’s husband George was able to provide fatherly care, and loving support.
For some others, who might struggle with memories of a father who only caused pain, how do they cope? Only through forgiveness can we be healed of the hurts inflicted on us. And that is not something that’s humanly possible when the crime is beyond understanding. like murder. Yet, by God’s Grace, there can be given to us the power to forgive. To find closure, and the ability to move forward.
The Lord God, the Heavenly Father, a Father to the fatherless Who alone is all goodness and love and compassion. To those who trust in Him will find in Him the answer for a broken heart.