Today I received an amazing note from Trey Sandlin. Trey and our younger son, Luke, were in the same class growing up. We haven’t kept in touch through the years, but his grandmother gave him a copy of Parting the Waters for Christmas, and he wrote to express his thoughts. In the opening paragraphs he shared some deep personal ways the book spoke into his life and rekindled his relationship with God. I can’t begin to tell you how much I treasure hearing stories like that. But then he gave me another delightful gift. He took a little walk down Memory Lane and told a story I know I will repeat many times now that I’ve heard it. This is what he wrote:
I remember Jacob before the accident. At the sports banquet the year of the accident, I was standing next to Jacob in the buffet line. I remember him picking up a dinner roll, and taking a big bite out of it. At the end of the line, Jacob looked at the lady serving the food and said, “Ma’am, it seems that a hungry member of your staff has been testing the dinner rolls,” and then he turned and grinned at me, and kinda elbowed me in the ribs.
What a perfect mini-snapshot of the Jacob we once knew! Such a fun memory, I couldn’t help laughing out loud when I read it, even though that banquet was one of the last events Jacob attended before the end-of-school canoe trip that changed our lives forever. Trey went on:
I thought he was so cool. I never really knew him, in fact I was kind of intimidated by him, but we were both on the soccer team. I started wearing Airwalk shoes and a chain on my wallet because I saw him do it. His life has obviously turned out differently than anybody ever thought, but after reading your book, it just shows that God has a plan for everyone. If the accident never happened, if you hadn’t written a book, I might have never realized how far I had strayed from the Lord.
We never know what lies ahead down the road–the twists and turns it will take and how hard some of them will be to navigate. And we don’t know how much our journey could mean to the people we’ve met along the way. But Someone knows all these things. He goes before us and cheers us on. He’s even preparing a great feast for us when we finally reach the end.
I hope I get to stand by Jacob in the buffet line.