When the car was available for release, I didn't want it brought back to our house right away. I was concerned that the boys would see the familiar white sedan coming down the road and think Daddy was home. Brian and Elaine Mumau volunteered to have the police deliver it to their house temporarily. When the car arrived, I asked if they would go through it and put Todd's personal belongings in a box that I could sort later.
They agreed and tackled the sad job. I'm sure they threw away gum wrappers, coffee cups, and gas receipts as they packed up his sunglasses, CDs, suit coat, notebook, and Bible. One item they found, however, was intriguing. In the armrest tray between the front bucket seats, Todd had some Scripture memorization cards that he used while driving.
The top card on the stack, the one that he might have read on September 11, was Romans 11:33-36:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
It was the exact passage of Scripture that had helped me through my questions following my dad's death; the same passage I'd been reminded of at Wheaton College; and the very passage that had been my memory verses for the Bible study I was preparing in Rome, the week before Todd died. Seeing that card reminded me that God is always speaking to us and giving us just the words we need for the events he knows lie ahead.
It was a short drive to the Core States Arena in Philadelphia, and nearly 130 women from our church planned to join about 25,000 other women for two days of speakers and music meant to encourage us in our faith. None of us ever imagined when we made our plans in May that I would be on the platform.
When the sponsors of the event discovered that I was attending, they asked if I would share a few words with the audience. I had wanted to remain as inconspicuous as possible, but Mordecai's rejoinder to Esther--"Who knows? Maybe God has you here for such a time as this"--echoed through my mind. I agreed to say a few words.
The emcee introduced me, saying, "Since the events of September 11, many have questioned the love of God. But many who know him well have not. One person in particular has not questioned his love. Her name is Lisa Beamer. . . ."
The crowd of women burst into applause as I walked onto the platform. They kept clapping and clapping, to the point that it was embarrassing. Just by scanning the faces in the crowd, I knew some of these women had faced far worse circumstances than I had. . . . Who was I to talk to them?
I confessed to them that I had originally signed up to get away from my husband and kids for the weekend. "At that time in May," I said, "September 11 was just another date on the calendar for all of us. Now, when we hear that date, it brings to mind all sorts of things, from fear to anger to sadness to--for the thousands of people in my shoes--thoughts of all the loss that we have experienced personally. We're left with choices about what we will do with those feelings. The choices for people like me--and for many of us in this room--are to look at all the things we've lost or to look at all the things we have; to become bitter or to become better; to live in fear or to live in hope.
The crowd interrupted me with a burst of applause, which I appreciated, but I didn't want anyone to misunderstand the source of my strength. "The reason I've been able to do that is not because I'm a strong person. I don't want anyone to go out of here thinking, Wow, she's so strong; look at her! The reason I've chosen to live in hope is because of the heavenly, eternal perspective God has given me. That tells me that fear comes from feeling out of control, and if September 11 has taught us anything, it is that we are never really in control. Todd and I were two people who planned for the future; type A's who had all our ducks in a row. And yet we were not in control on September 11.
"But hope comes from knowing who is in control. Hope comes from knowing that we have a sovereign, loving God who is in control of every event of our lives. . . . In the book of Jeremiah (29:11) it says that God has a plan for me, a plan to prosper me and not to harm me; a plan to give me a hope and a future. And that is what holds me together every day when I get out of bed in the morning: to know that is true, and it has been proven true in my life to date. It was true on September 11, and it will be true for as many years as God has left for me, and for whatever he has in store for me . . . and for my children.
"It's a time of uncertainty, and many people are looking for something to cling to. I hope for you that you can cling to the one who has all the power, and all the love, and all the care, because he's the one who's really in charge."
The "Women of Faith" gave me another rousing standing ovation and sent me soaring home on a cloud, with my faith built up. Good thing, too, since over the next few months my faith was going to be sorely tried in the nitty-gritty of daily living. We were about to enter the "mean" season, the season of birthdays and holidays . . . the first without Todd.