Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. – Psalm 127:3
While most of our closest friends are here at HCA, believe it or not, we do know people outside the school. Gayle and I have been intimiate friends with Bob and Shelly Benfield for over ten years. The Benfields have lots of kids like we do, and since their ages match up pretty well, we have enjoyed spending time together on many, many occasions.
Both our families have travelled to Haiti for missions, and have found a common mission there. Shelly, being a nurse midwife, has especially found a calling to minister to the Haitian women in remote villages in the countryside, which she has done multiple times. As a matter of fact, their entire family was in Haiti during the earthquake a couple years ago, and were trapped there for several weeks. As a result of these experiences, they have chosen a life of missions, and have been waiting on God to call them somewhere for their life work. Bob is a jack of all trades. He has worked for the sherriff’s office as a detective, as a nurse, as a repo guy who tows cars, as a carpenter and as a pest control expert. Right now, he is in the process of getting his pilot’s license. They are some of the most genuine, compassionate, likeable folks you would ever want to meet. In recent years, they even added to their large family by adopting a nine year-old girl.
Our kids have grown up together in youth group, church plays, family outings, and camping trips. The Benfields always sat on the row in front of us at church. Yes, we are creatures of habit, just like you! They have four boys (and two daughters), who are just full of life, sometimes to a fault. Caleb and Daniel, especially were the ones you know in church who are always picking and poking each other, and you sit back wondering if they ever hear anything being said from the pulpit, but you just can’t help loving them for who they are.
Our two oldest girls are the same age and grade as Caleb and Daniel, and have become good friends with these guys over thier lives. As boys do, they provided entertainment for my girls who consistently wondered aloud how anyone could be so immature, but deep down they loved the display (as girls often do).
Yesterday afternoon, we got the devastating news that Caleb had died in a motorcycle accident. He had just turned 18 in August, and was scheduled to graduate high school this year, just like our daughter Kristen. For the first time that I can remember, the entire Robinson family sat in our living room and cried together last night. This was not just a kid we knew. He was family, and it really hurts.
Our kids have never experienced the death of someone so young, and quite honestly, neither have I with someone I knew this well. It has caused us to reflect on life, family, and time in new ways. All of a sudden, volleyball games and major league baseball playoffs don’t matter. In an instant, grades, SAT scores, and college applications are worthless. I no longer care if there is enough money in the bank, or if the bills get paid this week. Now, I know that over time, I will reacclimate to these things, but today all that seems to matter is life.
The loss of a young, vibrant, precious life reminds me of how valuable our lives truly are, and of what really matters in our family. I definitely want my kids to act a certain way, learn certain things, achieve goals, and live successfully (whatever that means). But right now, all I really want to do is give them a hug and tell them how blessed I am to have them in my life. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Take advantage today. Give your kid a hug, and make today count.
p.s. – For those of you who are prayer warriors, please pray for Bob and Shelly Benfield and for their kids, Jonathan, Daniel, Anna, Josh, and Isabel. They need grace and mercy in their lives today more than ever.