Mercy, Grace, and Suicide :: By Hope Wingo

My son Robbie died sixteen years ago. It was suicide. It was intentional.

He was 21.

The pain of knowing he had gone to his death without accepting Jesus as his Savior was more than I could bear. He had made it perfectly clear that he wanted nothing to do with “Bible thumpers.”

Even after the initial shock faded, the following months were hard. I was angry at him.

A few weeks after his death, I gathered up all of his photos and stored them in a closet. I needed to distance myself from the tormenting thought that he had just entered eternity without God, and from the guilt that I had not done more for him.

One morning at dawn, eleven months later and out of the blue, I had a dream of him. I’m not compelled to share all of it, but this is its outcome:

In this dream I saw him as a three-year-old, gleefully bouncing up and down on my bed. As he bounced, he began to sing broken lines of the old gospel classic, “I Saw The Light.”

I got busy with my day, but hours later with the dream still vividly in my thoughts, I began to reflect on the possibility that it might have been initiated by God. Robbie had seen the Light… Jesus… literally!… is how my mind had interpreted his song. That could have meant only one thing… that Robbie was in Heaven with Him!

Was it possible that he had talked to the Lord in his final hours? What a thought!

At first, the dream pestered me to the point of annoyance. It simply would not go away. Hours later, I found myself in absolute awe at the possibility of God wanting me to know that Robbie was with Him. Finally, I heard myself asking Him for a confirmation.

My prayer was this: “Lord, if this dream came from You, and my interpretation that Robbie is in Heaven is correct, let me hear the song “I Saw The Light” sometime during this day.” (I had not heard it in years.) “If I do not hear the song this very day, I will consider this to have been just another dream. Period.”

The sheer bluntness of the prayer confirmed my small expectations. Then I added, “I didn’t ask for this dream. The thought of Robbie being with You hasn’t even crossed my mind, so I ask that You make the confirmation so definite that it cannot be questioned or mistaken to mean anything else.”

I refused to exaggerate an answer.

This dream occurred within the waking moments of a Friday morning. At the time I worked as a retail store cashier. I had to work that night. Friday evenings were always hectic, and this particular day was to be no exception. Shortly after I arrived at work, both the dream and my prayer were forgotten as I dove into the craziness of the weekend checkout crowd.

A few hours later after being relieved for my lunch break, I headed for my locker in the back hallway to retrieve my purse. Normally, the locker area would have been a loud, hectic place as store employees pushed past each other in their race to the break room, bathrooms, and time clocks.

This day was different.

I found myself completely alone in a deserted hallway, surrounded by a quietness so unusual that I could almost feel it. As I stood at my locker in that stillness, faint music from an overhead speaker caught my attention. It was unusual that the store’s satellite radio could be heard at all in that area.

A country song was playing; and although I couldn’t understand the lyrics, when the woman reached its chorus, out came a resounding “I saw the light.”

Instantly, the dream came back to me, and in a mild state of shock, I stood motionless as I waited to hear its chorus again. I wanted to be absolutely sure that I had heard what I thought I had heard.  Again… “I saw the light.”

The hair on my arms stood up.

For me to have been completely alone…in a quiet place; an eerily silent hallway on the busiest night of the weekend…precisely within the time span of a three-minute song…and to have heard the radio at all, much less that one line with perfect clarity, could not have been a coincidence.

I walked out of the hallway in tears that day knowing that Robbie had surrendered himself to Jesus within the last moments of his life. I also realized, almost by revelation, that if he hadn’t had that ‘alone time’ with the Lord that night that, had he lived, the opportunity to get real with God probably wouldn’t have come his way again.

It’s the “thief on the cross” story all over again. God will pursue us to our very last minute; and forgiveness is ours, simply for the asking, at any stage of our lives.

That is mercy! That is grace! And His mercy and grace are truly amazing!

One month later, I celebrated Robbie’s one-year-in-heaven anniversary. Oh, the joy!!!

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