Three years ago today, a little girl died because her big brother didn’t see her coming.
She needed help getting onto the monkey bars, and there he was, driving home. Twenty-four hours later, many people’s lives had changed forever.
Several different people definitely not given to “seeing things” would independently tell her family that they saw an angel take her into his arms.
I’m speaking of course about the daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman. I first heard the news on the radio. I knew who Steven Curtis Chapman was because I’d heard and liked a few of his songs, especially “Cinderella,” which was already a successful single (though it would obviously have much more success after the accident). So when the DJ announced the tragedy and then proceeded to play the song again, which, he remarked, “had new meaning” now, I was shattered. I wept all the way through the song, then literally ran into my closet, because the horror of it all was overcoming me, and I knew that I had to begin praying for this family.
For about a year, God placed this family’s pain on my heart in an intense way. I thought about and prayed for them constantly. It was difficult to do so without weeping. Meanwhile, I learned about who they were. I discovered Steven Curtis Chapman’s music and realized I had missed a lot. I learned that Maria was adopted, which led me to learn about their heart for orphans. Later I would watch the progress of the “Big House” they built in China for disabled orphans to receive the care they needed, in honor of Maria. And day and night, I kept praying.
But I remember wondering whether my prayers did any good. I knew there were numerous other people around the world praying with me, and that helped, but anyone could see that Steven and his family were completely broken. I knew that no matter how hard we prayed, we could not take away the crushing pain. When they would tell us that they could feel our prayers, in my heart I wondered what that really meant. But they were absolutely serious. They said that without our prayers they did not know where they would be.
The thing that stays with me the most is their incredible dignity under all that they went through. I remember wincing when I saw Good Morning America literally come into their home mere months later and do an interview with the parents and the older kids. They were so gracious in answering the reporter’s questions, even though I could not possibly imagine what they were going through on the inside. Later they did an interview on Larry King Live that was even more painful to watch. But it was also inspiring because their faith was still so obvious and so strong. I believe Larry was truly taken aback by what he saw in that family.
Today I want to honor them by playing Steven’s 2009 Dove Awards performance of “Cinderella.” This was a little less than a year after the accident. Prepare to be moved: