Your days of mourning will come to an end, the smallest family will become a thousand…at the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen. – Isaiah, Chapter 60, New Living Translation
Jeanette Witherington was watching her young adult son Ryan play a varsity game of basketball and she knew that something wasn’t quite right about what she was seeing. “When did Ryan start playing basketball?” she asked herself. Football, she remembered. But not basketball.
And why was Ryan wearing all white? It didn’t make sense.
Apart from general “Mama bias” was the odd fact that Ryan seemed to be the only player Jeanette could see. His teammates were like blurred out stick figures, faceless names. Ryan was the main player making all the plays.
Though the entire experience was surreal, after the game Jeanette went down to the court to congratulate Ryan. “Mama, you saw that I made the goal, right!?”
When Jeanette’s eyes opened from the dream, she knew. Her son had gained his Heavenly reward. God gave her a wave of peace over her entire body and mind, one that had been a long time coming after many months of grief.
It was several months prior when two police officers entered the reception area and asked for Chandler Witherington as the alarmed assistant told them he was on a hunting trip. When she asked if she could help, they only said there was news of an urgent nature and they needed to get in touch with him immediately. “There’s been a serious accident in his family. Could you please have him call this number?”
When Chandler Witherington received the news, he rushed back home in search of his wife and kids thinking the worst. Little did he know that his parents were also about to receive the news about his brother Ryan.
Meanwhile, Jeanette and Roy Witherington were living life to the full enjoying time with close friends while traveling in an RV. From a stopping point of Fairhope, AL to Marietta, GA this group of retirement-minded boomers chased a little road time that brought them from the Gone With the Wind Museum to a grocery store parking lot where they were getting ready to gather some groceries for the campsite.
When the phone rang, Roy answered from the front seat where Jeanette could hear the horrific cries and yelling of her sister-in-law back home, even though she was in the back seat. Roy’s face was in disbelief.
He hung up the phone and looked at Jeanette with the shock of having to deliver the worst news a parent ever has to digest. “Our worst fears have happened. There has been a wreck and Ryan didn’t make it.”
Jeanette and Roy’s camping excursion ended immediately with them getting back to Fairhope that night and resting at their friends’ home where they had left their vehicle. Once everyone bedded down after the long day of horror, Jeanette realized that the only solace would be to draw comfort by reading the Psalms. Her Bible was in her car outside and she didn’t want to wake anyone; therefore, the quiet darkness and tears were the catalyst that forced her into a place where should would have to hunker down with the Lord for survival over the next days that turned to weeks that turned to months. First of all, she didn’t feel like she should be in the position of picking out funeral clothes, but she wanted to be the one to do it.
In those next months, Jeanette felt the dream about Ryan’s basketball game was a confirmation that he was with God in Heaven. A local pastor confirmed this to her about discussions they had held in the months prior to his departure from this earth. But, Jeanette still grieved daily for her son and missed him very much. During her prayer time she would just speak honest feelings to God and say, “Lord, I know that Ryan would not want to come back here now because you’ve given him glory, but it sure would have been nice if you would have set up visiting hours with those who have gone before us.”
On her birthday following his death, Jeanette dreamed about Ryan again. “He came down from the sky to get me in a car. He was a teenager. We drove all around the sky where we visited, laughed, and hugged. When the day was done, Ryan set the car down on the driveway. Mom, it’s time for me to go home. He hugged her and drove off toward Heaven.”
When she was awakened, she rested in her soul and her period of turmoil was no more. From that day forward, God covered the hours of her pain and wondering about him. She felt this was a set time of releasing this tragedy from herself.
Seven years later, the pain of Ryan’s death was still there at times, but Jeanette was able to live an abundant life. She was handling some business on what would have been an ordinary day when she walked into Files Insurance where she introduced herself at the reception desk and carried on her transaction.
Once finished, she was outside where the young receptionist followed her into the parking lot. Thinking she had forgotten something, she looked her way.
“Mrs. Jeanette…are you Ryan’s Mom?…I know this is going to come as a shock and I understand if you don’t want to talk with me…but I am Ryan’s daughter. I am your granddaughter. My name is Morgan.”
The only words Jeanette could say were… “Really?….?…I didn’t know he had a daughter.”
The young girl, who was so nervous she was shaking, had lived with this secret since she was about twelve years old and it was only a week prior to Ryan’s death that he had reached out to her mother saying that he wanted to meet her. The meeting never happened. Morgan never spoke of it again after her mother revealed that he had tragically died. That is, until this very moment.
“I just wanted to introduce myself to you,” and they parted ways. Once Morgan was back inside the office, the entire office staff who knew what was going on pretended to work while Morgan gathered herself in the restroom.
When she returned to the reception desk, the office door opened.
“Could I take you to lunch?”
This was the day that a new chapter began for not only Jeanette, but also Morgan. Ryan’s brother Hollis agreed that Morgan looked so much like his brother. She offered and did take a DNA test to confirm her identity, but once meeting her, nobody in the family thought the test was necessary. Her eyes confirmed that she was Ryan’s daughter before the DNA test did. Ryan’s family sat in a prominent place of honor at her upcoming wedding in place of her late father. Everything that once belonged to Ryan now belonged to Morgan.
This story of a once lost heritage and legacy in need of redemption reminds us of the Ancient Words that when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
When the set time had come….there was a set time. For everything in creation, there is a time and season. Take heart and be encouraged in your place of waiting, for the set time is drawing near.