O Little Town of Montague

A couple of months ago, I came up with the idea of a Postal Prayer List for at work.  This is actually the next step in some other things that a couple other Christian letter carriers and myself have been doing.  On the National Day of Prayer, we stood out in front of the Post Office by the flagpole and prayed for our country.  This past September on See You At The Pole Day, we did the same and had more who joined us.  We have shared prayer requests between a few of us who have good Christian testimonies, but I had the idea of starting something that would be a bit more extensive.


So last month when another carrier came up to me and asked if my church had a prayer chain, I mentioned that I was contemplating starting a prayer list right there at the post office.  She began sharing how her 13 year old nephew had been battling cancer.  So I took that and began working on a format.  I spoke with two other carriers and a clerk (they are all Christians) and then we started.  I printed up a prayer list for the month of October, distributed them to those three, and let them give them out to others.


Then this past Thursday is when it all happened.  My hometown is the little town of Montague.  (Where in the world is Montague, Michigan?)  Two different people shared with me about a rural carrier in Montague whose son was in a very bad car accident.  The impact was so great that the motor was thrown from the frame of the car.  The 17 year old junior who attends Montague High School was hurt so badly that they thought they would have to amputate both of his legs and he would most likely be paralyzed from the neck down.  Read about it here.


The mother of this boy also attended Montague and it turns out that her younger brother was in my graduating class.  The people who were sharing the prayer requests certainly wanted prayer for the mother whom they both know quite well, and for the son.  These are not people that I believe ask God for daily guidance about decisions in their lives, or thank Him daily for blessings.  Yet they are turning to the Christians who have a Prayer List and are asking for help.


Then when I got home, I found out from my grandmother that my 20 year old cousin (second cousin) who was a college student had been found dead in a car in the woods along with another college student.  She also is from Montague although she had been attending college in a nearby city.  All her family lives right there in the little town of Montague.  Read about it here.


So that night I began typing up the next Postal Prayers list.  I included what had been requested concerning the son who had been involved in the accident.  I also included a prayer request for my cousin who had lost her daughter at such a young age.  The next morning I had the opportunity to talk candidly with someone about the situation.  She mentioned that they did have to amputate both of his legs and one of his hands.  There was also a good chance that there is brain damage.  She was obviously choked up.   I felt like a little clip of a Sara Groves video that I saw.  She went to Rwanda and was told of the mass murder tragedy that occurred.  She became choked up and said, “What do you say?”  That’s what I felt like.  What do you say to someone who has had both legs amputated and will spend the rest of their lives disabled in this way?


One sad thing is that so many people will not remember any thing else about this young man.  All they will remember is that this was the kid who crashed his car and wound up with his legs being amputated and confined to a wheelchair.  They won’t remember that he likes watching a certain sport, or gets mad when a certain political topic is brought up, or has a goofy sense of humor.  This accident will define the rest of his life.  And that’s sad.


As I gave the prayer list to one of the carriers who distributes them, I mentioned that I wanted to get this done quickly in light of the car accident tragedy that had been shared the day before.  This carrier then said that she was also shocked to see when she got home about the two students who were found dead in a car.  When I shared that one of them was my cousin, it was as if she had one of those “What do you say?” moments.  In disbelief she asked me if that really was my cousin that she saw on the news.  I said that it was, although I didn’t really know her and hadn’t spoken to her mother in several years.


These events really shatter the illusion of control that we fool ourselves into thinking that we have.  We turn to God to try to find some sense in life.  We ask “why?”  We want healing.  We want things back the way they were.  Yet in our turn to God, we are acknowledging that this is all His territory.  These things that we cannot control are not outside of His control.  The things that we don’t understand, He understands completely.  By praying, or asking others to pray, whatever the case may be, we are acknowledging in some way that we believe in the sovereignty of God.  All things are under His authority.


The little town of Montague is not doing so well right now.  There are several hurting families.  Yet life will continue.  The little town of Montague has a high school football team that won their game in the playoffs on Saturday so they are on their way to the dome.  (That means they will play for the state championship in their division for you out-of-towners.)  So while many are sad in Montague, some are jubilant.  I am happy for my hometown team having been rooting for them all year.  I feel like the Steve Bell song Never Mind which has the lyrics in sort of a limerick style:


My buddy died the other day.

I tried to cry the pain away. 

Still at the same time,

My sister had her very first child.

On one hand there was loss the other gain.


When I went online to look at the news headlines about these two tragedies, I was surprised at a new facet of the internet.  I guess I knew this happens since I have been to news websites before.  But now these are stories that I am connected to.  It seems with the progress of the internet, now anybody can leave their comment concerning their opinion about my dead cousin right on the news website.  Granted, some of them probably knew my cousin a whole lot better than I did.  But many of them are probably just people looking at the news with no personal connection to these people.


I don’t want my blog to be just another set of opinions about things I really don’t know anything about.  I want to point people in the direction of God.  Specifically, I want to point them to faith in Christ, the Son of God.  Some of the readers of my blog know me personally, having met me in person.  Others of you only know me from my posts here and on some other message boards.  One thing I would like you all to know.  The LORD reigns among the nations.  He is above all.  We must submit our lives to Him.  Why is there sadness at tragedy?  It’s because God did not originally design the world this way.  This is the result of sin.  We have brought a curse upon ourselves by being disobedient to our Creator. 


Yet when there is tragedy, we must realize there is a time for a holy silence.  There is that moment when we struggle with “What do we say?”  Most of us will fill up the silence with empty words, or give a reasoned response as I have just done.  But deep down I know that there are some things that I just don’t understand.  I don’t have an answer to why Brenen will live the rest of his life the way he will.  I don’t have an answer to why Amber died at age 20.  All I can do is turn to the sovereignty of God.


O Little Town of Montague

May God’s light shine in you

May you know the LORD doth reign

And grant you comfort in your pain




P.S.  Go Montague Wildcats!  When Leslie High School meets you next week at the dome, they’ll probably be thinking, "Where in the world is Montague?"  Wait, I’m not sure I know where Leslie is.

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2 Responses to O Little Town of Montague

  1. John says:

    I have read of many churches celebrating Christmas with Pageants that include an actual baby portraying the role of \’baby Jesus\’.  Our first child Ruth, was born December 12th, 1981 and was chosen to be \’baby Jesus\’ for our church\’s (Reba Place Fellowship) Christmas Eve service.  Last year, our grandson, Charlie, born on Oct. 19th 2008, was chosen, also at Reba Place Fellowship.  But in prison no such ritual exists.
     I wasn\’t even thinking about babies being in Christmas plays back in 1972.  This was yet another year in prison the difference being this was my first Christmas as a christian.  The Christmas service held new meaning for me as we sang the traditional Christmas Carols bringing with it a hope for a new life with a redeemed future.  Christian volunteers were apart of our service at the U. S. Medical Center for Prisoners in Springfield, Mo. 
    As our service wound to completion a cry was heard.  The faint whimpering of a baby.  My first thought was that I wasn\’t hearing what I thought I had heard.  I had been in prison for many years and had never even seen a baby inside of a prison (not counting my infrequent times in the visiting room.)  But there it was again, a baby crying.  Someone, a volunteer,  had brought their baby into the service wrapped in a blanket unnoticed by the guards.  I then thought, there was our \’baby Jesus\’. 
    The parents of the yet unknown child were the children of an older couple (Lloyd and Nita Colbaugh) who had only a few years previously began their ministry to the prison.  Even the great-grandmother (Mom Carter) was a volunteer and had played a significant role in my own conversion, telling me that God had a plan for my life. 
    Life would go on and the incident of \’baby Jesus\’ coming to prison would fade to a memory, until the baby grew up and now is known throughout many countries far and wide as acclaimed singer/songwriter Sara Groves. 
    I hope this story adds to your appreciation of the life of Sara and her family.
    John C Thomson
    PS: I\’ve added this moment a prayer for you and your family.

  2. Darrin says:

    Hey John, that is a great story.  Thanks for sharing your personal involvement in that moment that obviously affected so many.  I\’m sure you\’ve read that Sara Groves is my favorite artist.  But long before she was anything to anybody, God had set her apart for a ministry which began by simply crying as a baby.  Our God certainly is mysterious.
    Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
    -The Orange Mailman

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