In a Perfect World

Words cannot describe what Joe and Kateena LeForge felt when they received the phone call no parent or grandparent can bear to imagine. Joe’s six-year-old grandson, Gabriel, had suffered a tragic accident and was being rushed to St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri. For the next four days his family never left his bedside—and neither did God.

After Gabriel’s funeral we asked Joe for permission to share the words he wrote for his grandson’s service:

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“My favorite interaction with Gabriel always began with me asking him, ‘Who’s my buddy?’ Then he would reply with, ‘I am.’ Then I would say, ‘You better believe it.’ Then came my favorite part when he would say, ‘I DO BELIEVE IT.’ The way he said it was just so precious to me.

“On May 23 I walked into St. Louis Children’s Hospital feeling like the most unlucky man on the planet. I knew that I would be losing my grandson, I knew that I would have a daughter who would be losing her son, I knew that I would have a granddaughter who would be losing her brother, and I knew that I would have a mother who would blame herself, in a blameless situation, simply because he was with her.

“However, God has a way of giving us a different perspective. They put Gabriel in a room at the far end of a very long corridor. If there were a hundred rooms he was 99, so we had to walk by every one of them every time we went to his room. After seeing all the little ones in those rooms and the shape that they were in, not to mention the fact that most of them were by themselves, I began to feel like the luckiest man in that hospital, and that he was the luckiest little one there. He was there four days and I don’t think there was a moment that someone didn’t have their hand on him; prior to that he was made over every minute that he was alive.

“There were many wonderful families there all supporting each other, all praying for each other. Then someone said something that I couldn’t let go of. They said, ‘In a perfect world you could go back and do things over.’ Well, if you are someone who knows me, you know that I am someone who, if I am building something I plan every aspect of it before I build it. If I say something, I think about it before I say it. So after that phrase landed on me a couple of times I began to dissect it. I thought, in a perfect world, little ones would never get hurt or sick, that applies well. Then I thought about that whole ‘do over’ thing and started to find flaws in it. If we could do everything over we would never move forward. That is one thing I tell my kids they have to do all the time. I kept applying that phrase to many different scenarios ending with this one. In a perfect world there would be no divorce. In that world Gabriel never would have been born, he was the product of a second marriage. If he had never been born, his organs could not have saved the lives of three little ones on that very corridor that we had been walking, and one in North Carolina, which happens to be one of the places where the calls with prayer for us came from. Then I came up with what I believe is the only perfect application of the phrase, ‘In a perfect world.’

“It’s in God’s Word that there is a perfect world, IF YOU BELIEVE IT. So here it is: ‘In a perfect world “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ’ Revelation 21:4 (NIV).

“So my prayer is that God will allow me to join Gabriel there.

“And Gabriel, ‘I DO BELIEVE IT!’ ”

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