This morning, while I was jogging on my lonesome-ownsome, I kept thinking about a sliver of good news, or rather, a bit of a wow moment, within the tsunami of sad news that flooded social media the past weekend.
The reason this tragedy struck me so deeply, is that I grew up in Vanderbijlpark. I didn’t attend school at Driehoek, but I did teach maths there for six months when I did my H.E.D. Some of my friends still teach there. What triggered me mostly, however, was that my mother, who’s a pastoral counsellor at one of the local churches, left a sad message on my phone about what had happened. They had to perform mass counselling for traumatised parents and children. So, I cried for everybody involved this weekend.
Back to this morning. The news I heard, was that one of the boys who died, Royden, had saved two girls’ lives by pushing them out of the way. I have a vivid imagination and I even tried to mimic the action he had to have performed, and I was stunned. He made a definite and clear choice that morning. A choice to rather save his friends than himself. That slab of cement and steel must have come down fast. He must have seen it and chosen to rather push them, because he wouldn’t have been able to push two people away AND jump to safety. Impossible. Momentum would’ve pushed him backward. He willingly died for them.
What any parent would ask, myself included, is this: “Why my child?” Royden’s father gave an inspiring speech, testifying on his son’s behalf that he’d loved Jesus and had a great relationship with Him. That push pushed him straight into the arms of Yeshua his Messiah. I believe he didn’t feel any pain, just sudden freedom and light and Love.
The ripple effect of his brave deed will be felt in multiple dimensions and layers into the farthest future. I believe, while I was jogging and sweating, God gave me a glimpse of a diagram, indicating the ripples Royden made through space and time and matter, much like a family tree with branches that have branches that have more branches. Those two girls will have the opportunity to live lives that will honour his legacy. Hopefully they will testify and possibly bring others to Christ – as his father is also doing, which is also adding to his “tally” in Heaven, also adding to the ripple effect in many other people’s lives. What if either of those girls, or the generations after them, who will now live and see the light and tell the tale because of Royden, find the cure for cancer or become the next president or even more important, the next Billy Graham?
I know all this sounds like a cliché, but it’s not. The positive consequences of his action will probably far outweigh the positive consequences had he NOT made that decision. Before you shoot me for saying this, think about it. Royden would’ve been be safe, his parents happy, but two other sets of parents would have lost their daughters, asking: “Why my child?”
I don’t think this would offend Royden’s parents at all. They knew their son. Royden’s father already testified that his son was spiritually saved. Of course, it doesn’t make it all okay. Of course, they are heartbroken, and would rather the slab didn’t crumble and all three of them would still be alive. But, it did.
But, what if one or both of those girls weren't spiritually ready to die? What if Royden chose to keep his own life and KNEW in his heart he could’ve saved them? Which he has proven to us that he did know. The kind of selfless, noble guy he was… I think he might have fallen into a deep depression after such trauma. Feelings of guilt might have driven him away from God. To get really extreme… He might even have ended it all himself later. I know it sounds hectic, but it’s not impossible.
Now, of course, this is me and my vivid, philosophical imagination, and its not my child and I might get slaughtered for bringing all this up. Maybe it's just me trying to make a little bit of sense out of something that seems so utterly senseless. But God knows all the what-ifs. He worked it in Royden’s heart to push rather than jump. He always sees the bigger picture. (Rom 8:28) And thankfully Royden is in Heaven now. Watching and waiting in anticipation to see what will happen next. He is now a member of the cloud of witnesses cheering us on. Cheering those two girls on. Cheering his beautiful parents on.
Thank you, Royden, for your sacrifice. You are still changing a lot of people’s worlds.
May we all think about the far-reaching ripple effects our choices in life can have.
RIP, brave soul.
John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."