In June, 2012, I met Nettie Kelsey at a speaking and writing conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Both Hoosiers, we connected at the opening session. As I have gotten to know Nettie, I’ve had the privilege to hear her story. It’s one every person needs to hear who needs hope in difficult circumstances. Nettie’s authentic joy after unbelievable heartache is a testimony to a God who brings peace when peace seems unreachable. It is my honor and privilege to share Nettie’s story. If you would like to read her entire story now, click here. If you have limited time, I am posting it in three parts. Part II will post this afternoon and Part III Sunday morning. Please share this story with others who need hope in hard circumstances. Nettie’s Contact information is listed here.
In His Grip By Nettie Kelsey
Where are You, Lord: Part One
Where are you Lord? Lord where are you? We’re going this way. Where are you Lord?
These words burned in my mind. It was September 6, 2002, the birthday of our two youngest sons, Justin and Jason, who were three years apart. We heard the judge sentence my oldest son, Josh, to two counts of involuntary manslaughter with a twelve year sentence, six of which were suspended. Josh was handed this sentence because he was the driver of a fatal accident that took the lives of our middle son, Justin, and a friend. He was also charged with having drugs in his system even though he wasn’t under the influence at the time. He was to serve three years for good behavior and was to complete Teen Challenge, a Christian rehabilitation program.
Our family was faced with two choices – trust in the Lord to get through this nightmare or try to get through it on our own.
We chose to trust God.
Before Josh went to court, I contacted Teen Challenge hoping they could admit him so he would avoid prison. I was trying to take control of the circumstances. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to handle Josh going to jail. I spoke with Pastor McClain explaining the situation to him. “I’m sorry but legally we cannot accept anyone with felony charges,” he responded. My heart sank. Then he said “Would you mind if I prayed with you?” I don’t remember the prayer now, but I remember after saying “Amen” he said, “Would you mind if I sent out an acceptance letter today?” While the Lord opened this door to Teen Challenge, I felt He had closed the door when I heard Josh’s sentencing,.
“How could God be in this? It didn’t make much sense” I wondered. The Lord allowed me to panic for a while, reminding me He was still in control and I needed to depend on Him.
During this time, I thought God would not allow us to go through anything that we couldn’t handle (I Corinthians 10:13), and I didn’t think I could handle Justin’s death and a prison sentence for Josh. I thought it wouldn’t happen to us because I wasn’t strong enough. But I failed to read the rest of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says God will help us through our trials. The Lord proved to our family He is truly faithful because when we were not strong enough, He was strong enough to bear it all.
These thoughts were not the only ones going through my mind on that day in court. My head was spinning yet I was distraught at the same time. I couldn’t believe the words the judge spoke. Standing on the court house steps, everyone was talking all around me but I heard no one. “Lord, you opened the door to Teen Challenge, and now we are heading to prison? This can’t be happening to us. This is my baby who made some bad decisions. And because of these decisions I’ve already lost one son, another family has lost their son, and now you are taking Josh away from me?
Where are you Lord?”
The Lord answered that He was still in control and I was to trust Him. He told me He was going to use this heartache someday. But all I could think in the moment was, “Where are you Lord? We’re going this way. Where are you?” I felt like God had forgotten us. How could anything good come out of something so terrible? Then the Lord spoke these words to me, “You prayed from the time of the accident until now that my will would be done not yours.” I said, “Okay, Lord, You are in control. I give it to you, and I will follow you.” Though I didn’t understand any of this, I never forgot He had a purpose and plan for our family.
Part II will be posted Saturday afternoon.
You can contact Nettie Kelsey at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nettie Kelsey, P.O. Box 204, New Ross, IN, 47968. Kelsey is willing to share her story with your church, women’s group or youth group.