The simple wording of Luke 1:3 grips me: "It seemed good to me to write to you an orderly account." (NKJ)
The Bible is filled with orderly accounts. In the book of Revelation, for example, God told the Apostle John on the island of Patmos, "what you see, write in a book" The writer of Acts also speaks of writing an account. And the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk was told to write plainly on tablets so that those who read his words would be energized and encouraged.
Author Lana Yvette Williams has also written an orderly account. Under the Shadow is a spiritually thoughtful and powerful documentation of the aftermath of an unthinkable tragedy that occurred on December 8, 2001, when an underage drunk driver (more than triple the legal limit) crashed head on into the car driven by her son, singer and songwriter Mark David Williams.
In the four long and grinding months of rehab that followed, Lana stayed by her son's side, caring for and encouraging him. In the earliest days of that dark time she also began to journal. According to Lana, she was supplied with God's strength to make entries nearly every day, no matter how exhausted or bereft she felt. "I was passionate that the details be chronicled in honesty," she writes. "The very act of writing down that which was too painful to wrap my brain around was a step toward healing. By entering words to describe the circumstances of the day I was able to believe that we would read them in a better time, with the nightmare behind us."
As Mark gained strength, he began to participate in the journaling experience as well. Mother and son agreed that the goal of journaling was not only to be understood by others as they navigated this valley of the shadow of death, but also to illustrate the all-sufficient grace of a loving God during this intense spiritual journey that would change their lives forever. "How could we not share our journey when every moment of it was saturated with heavenly grace, mercy and provision?" she writes. And they needed to tell anyone who would listen about the powerful force of prayer.
Although centuries removed from John the Revelator on Patmos, mother and son were, spiritually speaking, also on their own island of grief and suffering. They, too, heard the unmistakable trumpet-like voice in their situation, saying, 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,' and, 'What you see, write in a book" Like the apostle, they turned to see with their eyes of faith, and Lana carefully documented what they saw.
I thought I had a realistic understanding of Mark's level and intensity of suffering (our circle of friends include the Williams family) but it wasn't until I read Under the Shadow that my eyes were fully opened to the cruelest of pain and anguish that this dead and dying world offers to the victim of a horrendous drunk driving crash. The story is straightforward and factual, raw and transparent. Bleakness surrounded and engulfed the Williams on all sides, sometimes even in the person of a mean spirited and hostile caregiver. Yet, they consistently chose to be yielded clay vessels in the Potter's hands.
Lana, a wonderful writer of hope, states that their journey through the valley of the shadow of death resulted in triumph, victory, restoration and purified faith for both mother and son. Like Habakkuk, she has written an account that will spiritually energize readers and encourage them in their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ as they turn its pages and allow her to write on the tablet of their hearts. Under the Shadow boldly confronts this generation with the reality of the loving presence of the Ultimate Healer in the deepest despair.
Today, the Williams continue to work toward even fuller recovery in all aspects of their lives as they allow the Savior's blood to be their balm. Enflamed by God's love, the mother of Mark David Williams has written an amazing and awe-inspiring orderly account of surrendered suffering. The Shepherd's voice is as a scarlet thread throughout the book's 300-plus pages. Under the Shadow must surely be as a precious crown placed at the feet of Jesus.
(Update: Mark is now married to Leah, and they have twins, Jude and Estella, who are approaching their 2nd birthdays in October. In 2006 Mark was selected to be Director of Music at his church. His web site is www.markdavidwilliams.com)