Sean’s Last Rescue

Graveside on the Fourth Anniversary. September 25, 2010.
I Didn’t Know I was Starving: My Testimony
Last week my friend Laura Boggess’s compelling words set down roots deep in my mind, tangling synapses as I tried to hear their message for me. She wrote:

It takes strong faith to plant a seed.
I remember a missionary telling us once that it was the hardest thing to convince the African people she served to do.
They were so hungry they wanted to eat the seeds right then, right there.

This morning, toweling off after a shower, the meaning bloomed in my head:

“At least those Africans knew they were starving.”

For years and years, I was starving and didn’t know it. Instead of filling myself with the Bread of Life, I nibbled at crumbs and thought I was full.

I’d been baptized as an infant, attended Sunday school just about every week, accepted a Bible from the pastor alongside the other fourth-graders, went through confirmation class, sang in the choir, joined the youth group. I went through all the motions that any girl reared in a good Christian home would go through.

Later I stood before God and pledged a covenant.

Then I broke it.

I was spiritually anorexic, choking down tiny morsels and convinced I couldn’t have more. Didn’t deserve more.

Then in 2006, Sean died. I wasn’t married to his father yet then, but I was close enough to feel his grief.

It cut deeper than words can go. Witnessing Rich’s pain was agonizing. I could not imagine his suffering.

One night I found myself pacing in a circle on my patio, praying aloud, pouring my heart out to God.

And it hit me, spelled out for me as plainly as the outline for a term paper:

  1. Rich loved his firstborn son deeply.
  2. He would have given anything–his own life, certainly–to spare his son’s.
  3. The pain of his loss is overpowering.
  4. God, being God, loved His Son better than any of us could love a child, because He’s God. He is Love. And because He’s God, He loves perfectly, because He does everything perfectly.
  5. Yet God chose to send His only Son to walk among men, to be forsaken, beaten, nailed to a cross, spilling His blood. And He did that for me. For ME. (He did it for you, too.)

Sean was an aircraft rescue firefighter in the Marine Corps when he died. So perhaps it’s fitting that an outcome of his untimely death was my own rescue, my salvation. True to His Word, God brought good from the tragedy of Sean’s death–He used it to show me that I was starving for Him.

And then He led me to His banquet.

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:16-18 (NASB) 

I’m going There and Back Again with Charity Singleton over at Wide Open Spaces. You can read about Charity’s round trip blog tour here, if you’d like to travel along with us.

There and Back Again


  1. A Joyful Noise

    That's not the way it is supposed to be! We are not to loose our children before it is our time to go. 🙁

    You had much knowledge of God by learning, and then you came to KNOW Him by experience. Wonderful

  2. Yes. Thank you.

  3. Oh, wow, wow, wow. Sheila. Such an "aha" moment. And your insight about the missionary's comment? Such food for thought! Thanks for visiting me–for going there…and back again!

  4. Food for thought. 🙂

    Thank you, Laura!

  5. Maybe God needed Sean to do a different type of rescue. I'm sure everyone who hears Sean's story is touched by him.

  6. Thank you, Red.

  7. Red…just to be theologically clear (I know you know I know..but I wouldn't want to be ambiguous):

    I know the One who died to save me and that happened long, long before I walked this earth. I think Sean's "last rescue" is an example of God never, ever wasting a hurt. It's that Romans 8:28 thing, ya know?

  8. The Portland Moderate

    I served with Sean in Iraq 2004-2005. He was an amazing person and certainly dedicated his power of a Corporal (at that time) to promote a better troop welfare. I specifically remember when he even challened are superiors for grievances we had with them and he took all the heat. His service was certainly something to remember. I can never forget such a day. . I really appreciate your post and dedication to Sean.

  9. Thank you, Mr. Moderate. I know Rich (Sean's dad) will be especially appreciative of your memories….as am I.

    Semper Fi.

  10. Curly Girl 4 God

    Oh, so heartbreaking…but I believe God's words, too, and so He won't waste this hurt. Beautiful imagery, Sheila, and beautifully written. Very thought-provoking. Many blessings to you and your husband.

  11. Thank you, Lynne. I believe we won't know all the good He's redeemed from this pain until we're with Him.