In May of 2008, Grammy winning Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman's family suffered an unthinkable loss. PEOPLE Magazine reported at the time:
Chapman's youngest daughter, Maria Sue, was hit in the driveway of her family's Franklin, Tenn., home by an SUV driven by her teenage brother, the Associated Press reports. The brother, Will Franklyn Chapman, apparently did not see the girl.
Several family members witnessed the accident, according to the AP. Maria Sue later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Laurie Holloway said.
The incident was ruled a "tragic accident."
"Just hours before, this close knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman's completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out 5 candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago," Chapman's manager Jim Houser wrote on a blog dedicated to Maria that was set up for condolences. "These words are unthinkable to type."
A young woman I know (herself the victim of tremendous pain and tragedy) had been so badly scarred by abuse and abandonment that she blamed--and shamed--herself, feeling she was at fault for the wreckage of her past. Having just recently come to faith, she shared her devotional thoughts about the Chapman's tragedy:
I was watching Steven Curtis Chapman and his family talk about the tragic day their daughter passed away after being struck by her brother's vehicle in their own driveway. I was in tears the whole time. But what was encouraging my tears to flow wasn't just the tragedy of the death of this beautiful little girl. Rather, it was what the family said happened next.
Will said that moments after the tragedy, he just started running, because he could not face the reality of what just happened. He didn't get far, though, before his brother tackled him to hug on him, love on him and pray over him.
It was in that moment, as his driver was speeding him away to the hospital, that Chapman rolled down his passenger window and screamed as loud as he humanly could, "Will Franklyn, your father loves you!"
Chapman said he doesn't even remember saying it because his adrenaline was kicking so hard. The only reason he even knows it happened was because his driver recalled it.
I still get choked up when I think about that.
My friend continues:
I'm in awe of how God was there, in the moment of tragedy, loving on that family. I later couldn't help but get a picture in my head of how, in my own life, when I make terrible mistakes or think I've sinned so badly that I can't help but want to run away, God calls out to me, "Amy (not her real name), your father loves you!"
I sometimes focus so much on my shame that I fail to see a loving Father standing with his arms wide open, calling out for me to come to Him.