A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

No Words

March 10th, 2010

It was January of 1994. The first night of my first ever seminary class. I sat down at a round table and shook hands with a guy I knew went to the same church I did, but had yet to meet.

“Hi, I’m Greg.”

“I’m Todd. Good to meet you.”

Dr. Oberholtzer opened the class by asking everyone to introduce themselves. When it came around to our table, my new acquaintance said, “I’m Greg Tonkinson…and I’m scared out of my mind.”

I liked him right away.

We were all scared. But Greg voiced what everyone was feeling. How can you even begin to see the end of a 94-hour Master’s degree on the first day? We had no idea what was ahead.

The unknown becomes known, one day at a time.

Over the next few years we spent tens of hundreds of hours together riding back and forth to seminary classes, sitting in class, talking ministry and theology over coffee, working on staff together at FBC-Tempe, planting a church, and playing in worship bands together.

Today my friend Greg is once again scared out of his mind. His beloved wife Leigh Ann was killed in a car accident on Saturday night. Leigh Ann was only 35 years old. I don’t remember ever seeing her without a smile on her face. A kind and gentle spirit, she was a nursing supervisor at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. More importantly, a godly wife to Greg and amazing Mom to three children.

Everyday we drive our cars and trucks down streets and roads and freeways, and almost always our minds race faster than the wheels we ride on. Schedules, work assignments, kids, to do lists, errands to run, and people to call. We multi-task at 60 miles per hour and our thoughts are almost always focused on what we are going to do next.

Only a series of painted white and yellow lines separate us from life and serious injury. Or life and death. We count on the fact that the other person will stay on their side of the line. And when they don’t it all comes to a tragic screeching halt.

And life is never the same.

Can I say it? Even Bible verses sound trite in times like this. Romans 8:28 promises that “God works all things together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.” True. And I believe that. But I hope no one says that to Greg for at least a year. Because from where he stands it’s impossible to see how losing your wife and best friend and mother of your children in a horrific accident could ever be worked into anything positive.

Psalm 138:8 promises that “God will accomplish everything that concerns me.” True again. Yet this side of heaven how can anyone who knew Leigh Ann comprehend that God accomplished everything that concerned her when she leaves behind a grieving husband and three young children?

Inherent in God’s sovereignty is that it will rarely make sense to us.

God’s promises are there. And they are true. And we take comfort in them. If not now, eventually. Yet for now, in these moments and days of stunned shock and disbelief, there are no words.

My friend and Pastor Duane Cross is no stranger to grief. He and his wife Sheri lost their 10-year old son Tyler in a car/bicycle accident. A couple of their closest friends were missionaries in Africa and were unable to return for the funeral. They sent a letter of condolence in which they said that within the African tribe they were living with, their word for “grieve” means “to sit in tent with”.

How profound. No words. Only “to sit in tent with”.

My friend Greg is scared out of his mind. How can you even begin to see the end of the rest of your life on the first day without your best friend? He has no idea what’s ahead. He will need people to “sit in tent” with him as his unknown becomes known, one day at a time.

Leigh Ann’s death makes no sense. There’s nothing good about it and everything bad about it. In our anger and sadness and confusion and agony and grief…God and His promises are there.

Even, and perhaps especially, when there are no words.

Greg, I love you, brother. I promise to keep you and yours in my prayers every day.

“God is near to the brokenhearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

Todd A. Thompson – ASliceOfLifeToGo.com