Catching Your Breath
About the Guest
What does it mean to trust God in all circumstances? Today Robert Rogers recounts the awful flash flood that claimed the lives of his wife and children. Hear Robert share how a mustard seed of faith and his resolute trust in a sovereign God carried him through his family’s tragedy.
What does it mean to trust God in all circumstances?
Catching Your Breath
Bob: How long into this process did your mind take you to Job chapter 1 and chapter 2. The biblical account of a man who had lost his home, his family, his children. And whose wife turned to him and said curse God and die.
Robert Rogers: Almost immediately. And I think my neighbors and others almost expected me to abandon my faith. They saw me in press conferences on television speaking words of hope. Reporters asked my neighbors what’s this guy really like? They said that’s him. He loves his family. He loves his God and you’re seeing who he is. Life is like that. It’s almost like a tube of toothpaste. When you get squeezed by life whatever comes out is going to be what’s inside of you.
I’m thankful to God it was that faith and I had to exercise that immediately like Job the day after my family’s funeral. It was on a Saturday so a full week after the flood we had five caskets in front at church and I buried all five of my family members. I can scarcely attach words to it.
I try to in the book but the next morning my parents and my seven siblings and I all attended church and I would usually play piano before the service for some prelude music so I could be with my family during the service and I said, I have to go up there. I have to play. I have to worship God and I played a song Ron Canolly used to sing called You Turn My Mourning Into Dancing again just because I felt like I had to kick the devil in the teeth. And say I may have lost my family but I haven’t lost my joy. I haven’t lost my faith and you’re not going to take that away from me.
I found that as I did that and poured myself out through those emotions and tears God filled me up with the presence I cannot explain. The presence of almighty God. As I’ve shared my story so many times over the past five years in churches of all denominations I see people who are trapped by their pain. Paralyzed by their pain. Stuck in their scars because they are mad at God. Or they are mad at the world. Or their boss or their spouse or whoever.
Dennis: Instead of being scars that are holy scars that God is doing the healing the scars are open wounds. And they are filled with bitterness. It would seem to me there is hardly any middle road here. You either turn to God in faith or you turn away from Him and you question everything about the scripture and everything about Him. You live life on your own and you compartmentalize it and you become angry and bitter and full of resentment.
Bob: You talked about through three years of grief counseling following this tragedy. Again I think of Job who went through a prolonged period of what we might call grief counseling with his three buddies who were not doing a very good job of grief counseling with him. You said it was invaluable for you tell us about that spiritual journey and how it helped you heal from what you had experienced.
Robert Rogers: It was like scraping my heart out with a scalpel literally it felt like because I’d already hemorrhaged. It was like my heart was amputated. Now I had to get all those emotions and the pain and as an engineer the details I kept trying to wrap my mind around what happened that night. How could this have possibly occurred? Just get it from the inside to the outside. All that stuff on the inside I had to release. Certainly counseling helped immensely. I highly recommend that.
Worship—just getting on my knees and crying to God and singing songs of praise and serving through telling my story. Traveling around the world to Haiti and India after the tsunami and Russia and ministering to orphans worshipping God that way by emptying me of myself filled me up with Himself. It gave me an immense sense of peace because we can spend our lives griping or we can spend them in gratitude. I found that as I thanked God for what He had given me for a life of no regrets. A marriage of no regrets. A family that was just phenomenal.
As I thanked Him and offered them up to Him and offered my pain it was as if a smile from His face just came upon me and said, Robert it’s going to be okay. I’m going to take you and I latched onto a verse in Psalm 119 after it says forever oh Lord Your word stands firmly in heaven and then it says for everything serves Your plans in verse 91. If Your law hadn’t sustained me with joy I would have died in my misery. I’ll never forget your commandments for you use them to restore my joy and my health. That is truly what has helped to sustain me and restore me is by clutching the word of God.
Dennis: There was a time when in fact not many days after the accident you drove back to Jacob’s Creek and you revisited the site where your family perished. You did something there as I read about it in your book, Into the Deep I wanted to hear the lullaby that you began to sing that you used to sing to your children. For some reason you started singing as you walked down that muddy embankment where the spot where your van had been hit by that wall of water—that tsunami. Would you mind singing it? Is it a song or is it a poem? That lullaby—would you share that with our listeners?
Robert Rogers: I’d be honored to. It’s based on Psalm 139 and I call it the Psalm 139 lullaby. Ironically Psalm 139 also says that all of my days were ordained and written in this book before one of them came to be. So He knows our day of birth and our day of death. The song goes something like this: Oh Lord You have searched me. Oh Lord and You know me. You know when I sit and You know when I stand. You know when I lie down and You know all my ways. You knit me together in my mother. You hem me in behind and before. I praise You because I am wonderfully made. You wove me together in the secret place. When I awake I still am with You. Search me oh God and know my heart. How precious are Your thoughts Lord how vast the sum of them. If I were to count them there’d be more than grains of sand. You have laid Your hand upon me. Lead me in Your ways everlasting.
Ironically I used that very last line “lead me in your ways everlasting” on my family’s tombstones. It just felt very appropriate to tie in music that lulled them to sleep to the incident that led them into their everlasting time with Jesus our Savior. On their tombstones I have a musical treble clef and some notes and several of those words on all three of the tombstones. So it forms a thread of music and of faith woven through our family and binding us together.
Bob: A few years ago you remarried and you and your wife Inga have a young son and you’re expecting a second child. When you get in the car to go travel somewhere do you pray the prayer?
Robert Rogers: Absolutely. In fact we just prayed it yesterday on our way to here Little Rock, Arkansas to be with you.
Bob: Do you think as you pray it…
Robert Rogers: What if? ... This could be that last time. Absolutely, I know as well as any that there are no guarantees in life. God’s promises are “yes” and “amen.” If we truly believe them then we have no reason to fear like Psalm 112 that I referred to earlier. Like Jesus said I think as you referenced the wise man is the one who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.
So when the rains come down and the streams rise and the winds beat against this house it will not fall because it’s built upon the rock of Jesus Christ. So I know no matter what may come my way I can still say it is well with my soul. Like Horacio Spafford who lost his four children and wrote those powerful words after a similar type of ordeal.
Dennis: We sang that song at my granddaughter’s memorial service as we released 101 pink balloons.
Robert Rogers: Is that right. Wow.
Dennis: The only person who can say it is well with my soul is the One who knows who made the soul. If you’ve met the Savior and you know Jesus Christ and you’ve placed your trust in Him for forgiveness of sin and for right standing before God and for Him to become Your maker and master and your redeemer. Then you can say it is well with my soul because you know, you know, I’ll say it a third time, you know where you’re going to end up. You have a promise of eternal life.
Robert I want to thank you for sharing your story with our listeners. There’s been a lot of perspective regained by many of them who are facing difficult challenges. Things that are beyond their control. They needed to be exhorted to sing that song. It is well with my soul and to trust in Him who can make things right.
Bob: It very well might be Dennis that there are folks who have been listening to the program today and God has been stirring in their own heart and they’ve been wrestling with this question do I really have the kind of relationship with God the kind that weathers trials. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount that we’ve already talked about this week references the house that is built on the sand and the house that is built on the rock. Maybe as you’ve listened this week you’ve thought what is my house built on? Do I really know Christ?
On our web site FamilyLifeToday.com there’s a link there, there’s a button that you can push that talks about the two ways to live. The sandy foundation way of living and the rock foundation way of living. I would encourage our listeners if this is something you’ve been wrestling with and you’re at a point where you want to make sure that you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That my house would stand in the midst of these kind of trials. I want the kind of faith that I’ve heard Robert express this week on FamilyLife Today.
Let me encourage you to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on that link that says “two ways to live.” Just read through what’s there or if you don’t have access to the web call us at 1-800-FL-TODAYand request a copy of the book, Pursuing God. That’s a book that lays out for you what it means to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It spells it out very simply and we’d be happy to pass it on to you at no cost if you’re someone who wants to settle the issue of the authenticity of your faith. To really examine and see if you’re in the faith. And then to trust Christ and live your life for Him. Call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY.
If you’re interesting in getting a copy of Robert’s book it’s called Into the Deep. One man’s story of how tragedy took his family but could not take his faith. We have that in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and order a copy on line or call 1-800-FLTODAY.
We’ve also had a lot of people calling and asking about the book your wife, Barbara wrote with your daughter Rebecca. A book called A Symphony in the Dark. It gives the account of the death of your granddaughter Molly a year ago at this time. We have copies of that in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well. That’s FamilyLifeToday.com. Or you can call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1 800 “F”as in family “L” as in life and then the word TODAY and we can make arrangements to have whichever of these books you’d like or both of them sent out to you.
Any time we have a program like we’ve heard today I’m always thankful for the listeners who make FamilyLife Today possible. You really are the ones who make it possible for this program to be produced and to be syndicated on all stations all across the country. Without your financial support we could not sustain the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate your financial partnership with us especially in what has been a challenging season for us as a ministry. Thank you to those of you who have made donations in the past several weeks.
This month if you’re able to help with a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife Today we have a CD we’d like to send you. It’s a message that Dennis shared with our staff not long ago from Psalm 34. A message where he talks about where we can find encouragement and hope and help in the midst of trials and tribulations.
If you are able to support the ministry to make whatever donation you are able to make and if you’re making a donation this month on line and you’d like to receive a copy of Dennis’ CD of Psalm 34 all you have to do is type the word “trials” in the key code box that you find on the donation form.
Or call toll-free 1 800 FLTODAY. That’s 1 800 358-6329. Make your donation over the phone and just ask for a copy of the message on trials by Dennis or the message from Psalm 34. We’re happy to send it out to you and we so much appreciate your financial faithfulness and your support of this ministry.
We hope you’re able to worship together this weekend and I hope you can join us back on Monday because we’re going to talk to a couple who for more than a quarter of a century have been caring for a special needs son. We’ll hear their story and we’ll hear the joys and the challenges they’ve experienced along the way. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock Arkansas
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