Thursday, November 28, 2013

Making My Son's Death My Own

The farther away in time we get from Micah’s death, the easier it is to become re-absorbed into the world. How much easier it is now, more than 4 years since Micah’s death, to grow comfortable again, to regain personal, professional and family ambitions. We have enjoyed the opportunity to be parents to our three living kids, and all the activities that come with parenting. From an outside perspective, one might say we have a “life” again. But while the world, and well-meaning friends, may applaud us for this re-engagement, a complete re-engagement would mean the loss of one of the great legacies to us of Micah’s death. For in the emotional and spiritual upheaval created in my heart following Micah’s death, I experienced not a physical death, but a death to my own ambitions, dreams and hopes. Since Micah was (and even now is) an integral part of the hopes for my life, in Micah’s physical death I experienced a death in my life’s ambitions. In those weeks and months following Micah’s death, we gained an eternal perspective on our lives and Micah’s short life, a perspective that put all of those ambitions, worldly cares and worldly concerns that I now spend some much time upon in their proper place—buried six feet under along with my oldest son’s remains. I think this type of death, this loss of self-absorption and personal ambition, is precisely what Christ calls us to, as His disciples. Jesus calls us to death—not merely physical, but to our own comforts and ambitions. “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24. About this verse, the Wycliffe Bible Commentary says, “Death is the key to spiritual fruitfulness.” In death, we have no choice but to follow after Christ, to trust in Him, and find His strength sufficient for us. Jesus says that “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:25. Will you join me in attempting to lose my own ambitions, in the hopes of gaining real and true life, in Christ?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Micah at 5 Years Old

Today marks our son Micah's 5th birthday. As in each of the past few years, we will mark his birthday later today by birthday cupcakes eaten by our living children, and after a birthday song, birthday candles blown out by Micah's exuberant (although somewhat confused) younger siblings. It's also typically marked by a visit to the grave and by a few tears. With each passing year, we've grown increasingly certain that while God has already used Micah's life and death to accomplish some good and noble purposes, we can't hope to possibly understand all those purposes on this side of eternity. As with most grieving parents, we yearn to know what those purposes are; to be able to offset the pain and anguish we have experienced by reason of his shortened life and death with tangible and noteworthy eternal purposes. We have already greatly benefitted from the knowledge of certain blessings that have arisen by reason of Micah's death. But we groan to know more. We groan to know what blessings have come to us and others by reason of these present sufferings. In one of the passages that Heather and I most frequently recite to one another in encouragement, Paul tells us, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God....And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved..." Romans 8:18, 19, 23. Tonight, if you were in our home here in Minnetonka, you would hear the sound of children celebrating a birthday. But the overriding theme here is not one of celebration, as is the case with our other birthdays, but one of groaning. Just as in Paul's letter to the Romans, we have a heartfelt desire for what is ahead. For every human suffering through this present age, Christ is our only hope. For at that great day of Reunion, when Christ meets us face to face, we will have our greatest appetites for glory met in God, our thirst for significance in suffering fully satisfied in our Savior. We will see how all our sufferings, both large and small, were worked out in these past few temporal earthly days, and that our son Micah's short life on earth accomplished more than we can ever currently possibly conceive.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Update on Hope for the Mourning

This past Saturday, Heather and I hosted about 100 people at Nokomis Community Center in honor of Micah's Fifth Birthday. We were so appreciative of everyone who was able to attend. This year’s celebration was a significant milestone because it would have been his 5th birthday. How we wish he could be here to celebrate his own birthday with his three younger siblings. While nothing on this side of eternity can make up for his loss, we are always so encouraged by the friends and family members who attend in Micah’s honor. Once again, we feel so grateful for your love, encouragement and support. As most of you already know, Heather and I created the Micah Wessman Foundation in 2009 in order to assist other families grieving the death of a young child. Since October of 2011, the organization has been administered through the Hope for the Mourning website. The website includes a significant amount of teaching for parents grieving the loss of a young child, and includes links to outside resources. Additionally, the website provides the opportunity for grieving parents, or friends of grieving parents, to request that a care package be sent to them. This care package includes three books written on grief, all from a Christian perspective, and for those receiving gift cards in the United States, two restaurant gift cards. Since January 1, 2013, Hope for the Mourning has sent 63 care packages. While most of these care package requests come from the continental United States, we also have received requests from all around the world. By reason of these care packages, we have been blessed to communicate with numerous grieving parents. Now with three living children in our home, and my busy law practice, we wouldn’t be able to manage the logistics of the care package ministry without the support of my mom, Karen, who has taken on the responsibilities associated with the care packages. Thanks to her work, grieving parents from around the world are receiving care packages. Lord willing, we will continue to operate Hope for the Mourning and the care package ministry. As you might imagine, sending this number of care packages comes with significant costs. (One care package costs approximately $100). As always, the organization would be happy to receive donations of any amount, which of course are fully tax-deductible. Whether now, at year-end, or at any time in the future, please keep our organization in mind. On behalf of Heather, Owen, Brendan and Kinsley, thanks again for your love and support!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Casualties of War

I have recently been reading an historical account about the American military campaigns in North Africa and Italy in World War II. In it, much discussion centers around the decisions made by the American leadership, and whether the high level of "casualties" suffered by the Americans in various battles were worth the strategic benefits obtained. Until recently, I found it curious how a "war casualty” is calculated. A “casualty of war” is defined to include those killed, injured or displaced by war. I previously felt that the casualty of war figure was misleading because, in measuring the impact to a particular side of a particular battle, the number of soldiers killed is an altogether different impact than the number of soldiers injured or taken prisoner. But having lost a child (albeit not in a war), I believe that the "casulty of war" definition is in fact appropriate. As the particular account I have read demonstrates, the collateral damage to war extends far beyond simply those who died. Those suffering physical injuries during a battle (a) might not be able to return to battle at all and (b) regardless of whether they do, the impact of their physical injuries will impact them for the rest of their lives. Apart from physical injuries, how many thousands of war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, either diagnosed or not, by reason of their involvement in the war. Trully, the negative impact of war experiences lasts a lifetime. Simillarly, it is nearly impossible to calculate the emotional and relational impact that a child’s death has on friends, families, communities. Just as I ignorantly limited a “war casualty” to a solider killed in battle, so also would it be ignorant to think that the only persons adversely impacted by the unexpected death of a child are the immediate family members. Grandparents of the deceased are left powerless to bring their child back from the dead, or to fully assuage the grief of their own children, the greiving parents. Friends and family members, who might previously have enjoyed close relationships with the greiving parents, lose the same ability to relate to their friends, the grieving parents. Work colleagues of the parents lose the drive and desire of the grieving parents as the mom or dadd shift their mental attention away from their careers in order to grieve. Even the physicians treating the child wonder how a life could have been saved had the child been treated differently. As we seek to minister to our fellow greiving parents, I think it is helpful to remember how broad the death impacts the communities and, as a result, be open to how the Lord is not only using a child's death to work on the hearts of the parents (certainly one "casualty") but also the broader community, many of whom are also "casualties" of the death of the child.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Redemptive Memory

Many grieving parents tend to “live in the past.”  They hold on to everything about those moments, now gone, that they shared with their children. If there is nothing outside of our selves, then I suppose this is right—those fleeting moments are all we have with our children. Unfortunately, as we can attest, if we focus exclusively on those wonderful, sweet memories of times with our children, we are also likely to focus at times on the circumstances surrounding the death of our child, including the terror and great grief.

But God does not view history the way we do.  In his book, A Grace Revealed, theologian Jerry Sittser describes the importance of using “redemptive memory” so that we can try to understand, at least in part, how God is using our history to shape us more like him.  “Redemption is worked out within the framework of time, which is why it is important to examine how God functions both within and beyond it.”  Sittser, Grace Revealed, 153.   Sittser, who himself lost his wife, mother and daughter in a car accident about twenty years ago, was able to come to the point where, while certainly not glad that the accident occurred, could see the numerous blessings to him and his family, from an eternal perspective, that arose from the accident. 

While we are stuck “inside” time, God views time as occurring instantaneously.  If we view human tragedy the way that God does, we cannot define a particular event based upon its impact at any one particular time. God is working for our good through sequences of moments that are intended to make us more like him.   Consider how water drips on a rock.  At any one particular point in time, there will be no felt or seen impact of that water on the rock. But over many years, and certainly many hundreds of years, the water will change the shape of the rock.  Similarly, God is using our history, both the tragic events, as well as the mundane, day-to-day trials, to make us more like him. 
The great news of the gospel is, among many other things, that we are part of the larger redemptive story and that no one event, however, tragic, can and should define us.  The cross, in itself, is the most egregious event every perpetrated on another human.  But Easter Sunday morning, and then Pentacost, and then two thousand years of the working of the Holy Spirit, and then our testimonies, demonstrate that the legacy of the Cross is not just the unjust sentence, the inhumane torture, and death.  It is the redemption of those who are called by God.  

In our case, the idea of “redemptive memory” does not mean that we should forget the great grief of how Micah died—how if, in any one of a number of instances, things would have gone differently, he would still be with us today.  But at the same time, it is far too early for me to write a definitive account of Micah’s life and legacy.  The way in which Micah died cannot be viewed as a self-contained event having meaning within itself.  It must be viewed along with the various and numerous grace-filled blessings that have arisen in our lives by reason of it. Just as the Cross of Christ cannot be viewed outside of its redemptive impact on human history, so also we grieving parents must view our child’s death in light of what God has done, and continues to do, by reason of his or her death.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yesterday at the Cemetery

It was 4 years ago yesterday since Micah went home to be with The Lord. We miss him terribly, but are eternally grateful for the promise, in Christ of seeing him again!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Aware of the Loss...Grateful for the Outcome

Jerry Sitser is a professor of theology who, a number of years ago, was involved in a car crash in which his mother, his wife and one of his daughters were all killed.  Sittser has written about his grief journey on a number of occasions, including in his most recent book, “A Grace Revealed.”  In it, he reflects on the absence of his daughter and its impact on him and his family. 

He writes, “Her presence would affect the entire dynamic of the home, no doubt for the good.  Then again, her absence has done that too.  It could have turned out tragically, and I could be writing words of lament right now instead of words of gratitude.  But it did not turn out tragically, not in the long run anyway, though event itself was, and still is, tragic.  We feel sorrow, to be sure; but it is a sweet sorrow.  We are aware of the loss but grateful for the outcome.  It is a tension we have learned to embrace.” Sittser, A Grace Revealed, 240-241. 

Next week, our family will honor Micah on the four year anniversary of his death.  Like Sittser, I have seen numerous blessings arise from Micah’s absence.  To be sure, we’d take him back in a heartbeat.  I would not go so far as to say that I am “grateful for the outcome,” as Sittser writes.  I am, however, grateful for how the depths of great grief in my life have removed some of the deeply-rooted self-dependence in my life and required greater dependence on God.  This, in turn, has led me to consider how other, smaller and seemingly less significant trials might be part of God’s plan for creating greater dependence upon God, in my life and my family’s life.  If Joseph told his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good,” can we not trust that all of our trials are similarly for our own good? I hope that you, too, will consider the power of God to use trials to accomplish His purposes in your life. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rejecting the Idols of the Immediate

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4.
In this passage from Ephesians, the Apostle Paul calls us to reject a focus on “this” life and instead focus on matters of eternal significance. How difficult it is for most of us to “set our minds on things above,” when it seems that 99% of our waking moments are consumed by thoughts of what I refer to as the “idols of the immediate.” We spend most of our time thinking about good things--workplace pressures, financial needs; family matter. In our case, we are knee-deep in crying babies, changing diapers. Others might spend time thinking about social life, sports, or entertainment.
Regardless of what interests and background we have, we tend to surround ourselves with people who think the same way we do, value the same things we do, and reinforce for us, in our own minds, that same value system as to “idols of the immediate.” I recall a humorous conversation with a client of mine about how certain professionals in my industry (attorneys) value themselves and their work. It became clear to this client that the only people who were concerned about certain titles within our industry are the attorneys themselves—our clients don’t care. Similarly, I wonder how much we consider “important” in our minds or our own social circles are just idols of the immediate—that is, empty promises of satisfaction that, if followed wholeheartedly throughout a lifetime, will only lead to disillusionment and then ultimately destruction.
Every once in a while, I re-discover a continuing, ongoing blessing from Micah’s homegoing. When a great calamity strikes, such as the unexpected death of one son, it is such much easier to pick up on those idols of the immediate and reject them for what they are, and then refocus our lives and energies where they ought to be--on the eternal. I’m certain that, in the absence of Micah’s death, Heather and I would be more closely tied, in heart, thought and action, in achieving what we want on this life (“things on this earth”). For us, Micah’s death meant that we could more easily focus on matters of eternal significance.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Currently Unknown Recipients of Grace

Following Micah's death, we received a kind gift of a new cherry tree in honor of Micah. When we planted it in the backyard of our South Minneapolis home in the fall of 2009, we of course had no idea whether that little tree would live.  This past winter, we sold our home in South Minneapolis and moved to a new home in the western suburbs. This week, I was surpised to receive an email from the new homeowner with a picture of the cherry tree (which Heather and I liked to refer to as "Micah's Tree.")  This year's blossoms were better than in any previous year, and the new homeowner(s) will enjoy Micah's tree for years to come. While we wish we could have brought the tree with us to our new home, I was happy that the tree appears in good health. 

In the case of Micah's Tree, a previously-unplanned and unknown recipient now benefits from the gift originally intended for us.  As God works in our lives to change us and our loved ones to be more like Him, do we really have any idea who will benefit from this?  In many cases, we have a good handle on who the recipients of God's grace will be.  But I think I often limit the reach of God's power, as if God will only impact those individuals that I currently know or see in front of me.  God is not bound by any such artificial and human limitations.  God's power is, as Paul said in Romans, "beyond tracing out," and his power beyond anything we can even imagine.  Along with numerous other grieving parents, I look forward to the day of our Great Reunion, when we can begin to realize how God used our greatest sufferings to achieve his purposes, even in the midst of great grief. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Do Christians Grieve Differently?

In a recent blog post, John Piper shared a letter he wrote to a recently bereaved mother.

Particularly if you are a fellow grieving parent, I would encourage you to read Pastor John's post.  I appreciate Pastor John's thoughtful, grace-filled response to this grieving parent.  I also thought his post would be a good answer to the question (not asked of him directly) of "Do Christians Grieve Differently?

On the one hand, we might not outwardly appear to grieve differently.  We mourn.  We cry.  We hurt like we've never hurt before.  Our ways of dealing with this grief, as Christians, are all over the board. I've known parents who go to the cemetery every day; others who have not been back since the funeral.  Most of us like to share memories of our child; a few don't.  But regardless, all of us hurt.  Piper likened our loss to an amputation, which I believe is an apt description, to the extent any description can be. 

While we may outwardly exhibit grief like the rest of the world, Christians do not inwardy grieve like rest of the world.  We are always grieving, but also always rejoicing, knowing what the future has in store.  We know, for certain, that we will see our son Micah again.  As stated in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, we grieve in hope for what is to come. For just as certainly as Christ died and rose again, so He certainly redeemed the life of our son and the lives  of millions of other children who have died as infants or young children.  The outward grief is merely a function of time--the anticipated length of time we, as parents, have to wait to see our children again, and the time of sin, disease and death that thwarts our God-given desire to raise full and complete families.  These times, however long, will ultimately pass away, and then at long last we will see our son, again, by the grace of God. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Deliverance Through Weakness

In a recent sermon, Bethlehem Baptist Preaching Pastor Jason Meyer discussed how the “twin peaks” of praise and hope can arise even from within the “valley” of suffering, if we suffer in Christ. Meyer describes how, if we turn our heart’s affections towards God, then our lives will ultimately overflow in a lifestyle of praise towards God even in times of suffering. Meyer cautioned, however, that suffering will not have this desired effect for those of us who, at various times, have felt like we needed to respond to suffering by pretending to “have it together” so as to avoid the humbling experience of receiving the assistance of others. 

Meyer preached that,

“Some of us are in danger of not being worshippers because we are not in touch with our weakness. Sometimes people feel pressure in the church to act like they have it altogether. Let me be frank. If you act like you always have it altogether, then you make praise impossible because you act as though you don’t need to be delivered—you act like you have arrived and don’t need grace or God anymore. How do can you urge someone to praise God with you and enjoy his deliverance if you act like you never needed it in the first place? Being in touch with your weakness and your need for deliverance, primes the pump for praise to come when the deliverance comes!”

In my case, I think my own attempts to be “outwardly religious” hampered the ability of others to minister to Heather and me in the time since Micah died.  I remember specific instances of hoping that Heather might not say or do certain things because I thought they might either seem “Un-christian” or “un-spiritual” to fellow unbelievers.

This prideful, “perception over reality” approach to suffering is diametrically opposed to Paul’s Christ-centered approach.  Rather than hide his weakness, Paul heard God telling him, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).   If you are like me, you need to let pride die.  After all, what is more important to you—a perception that you have it all together, or submitting to the humility of accepting God’s assistance through others, and therefore having Christ’s power rest on you? 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kinsley Marie

Dear Friends,

Heather and I are very excited to announce the birth of our precious little girl, Kinsley Marie Wessman, born at 11:56 am on Tuesday, April 2nd. Kinsley weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces at birth.
She was 21 inches long. Both Kinsley and Heather are doing well.

As some of you know, we were expecting our oldest child, Micah, to be a girl before he was born in 2008. After Micah's unexpected death, we were blessed with two more sons, Owen (now almost 3) and Brendan (20 months). Now, with the actual (and not just expected) birth of a girl, we feel like God has brought us full circle, and that Kinsley's story will always be tied to Micah's.

Along with David, we thank God for Kinsley, the fourth of our undeserved little gifts from Him.

"Bless The Lord, o my soul,
And forget not all his benefits...
Who satisfies you with good
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Psalm 103:2,5.

On behalf of Heather and three proud older brothers, thank you for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Changing Conception of God

I have recently reflected upon how our grief following Micah’s death has begun to rid us of certain religious pretenses—certain misconceptions of God that, in light of all that has happened, need to be thrown out.  Our conception of how God works, and who He is, has changed by reason of Micah’s death. Before Micah died, we would have pat “Sunday school” answers whenever faced with a potential trauma.  Intellectually, I would (wrongly) take comfort in the (false) belief that God’s purpose in difficult personal situations would be to “rescue” me so as to avoid personal discomfort. 

In the intervening years since Micah’s death, I think our relationship with God was marked, in large part, by shock.  While we have depended wholly on God, we’ve also not really thought a whole lot about leaning on the same God whose kindness and mercy took our son away from us.

Now, as we emerge more and more from the “fog” of shock as part of the grieving process, we ask these questions once again.  This time, however, we can’t give the pat “Sunday school” answer any more; not only is this conception of God too superficial, but it just doesn’t work.  In speaking with other grieving parents, the result for many of us is a huge intellectual “void” in our lives. We don’t question the existence of God or even that He is involved in our lives.  It is that we cannot provide an answer to the deepest, most significant questions in our lives, a question that is at the forefront of the minds of most grieving parents I know.  The question, “why did God allow this to happen?” is often met with just silence. 

We answer it with a Job-like silence, a silence that (I pray) brings glory and honor to God.  We don’t know, and all we can do is keep trusting in Him, changing whatever previous conception we had of God that is demonstrably false.   Recently, I’ve tried to encourage myself that having a changing conception of God is a good thing.  After all, the Pharisees had a very wrong conception of God, and if the Pharisees had listened to Jesus and become His disciples, their conceptions of God would have been dramatically altered.  Job’s conceptions of God changed; certainly the friends of Job who gave him “counsel” had an altered conception of God through Job’s sufferings. 
The downside, of course, to a changing conception of God is that we can’t control God.  I can control a God (or, at least I thought I could) who works to provide me with good things when I want in the manner that I want.  For all of us humans who endure suffering, God uses this suffering in our lives to move us beyond the “pat” Sunday School answers to open up our minds to increase our understanding of our Great God, a God whose means are “beyond our tracing out.” 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Red Hair & Faulty Ultrasounds

Brett and Mandy Peterson are friends of ours and fellow grieving parents.  One of Brett and Mandy’s four children, Chase, died tragically a few years ago.  One of Chase’s striking physical characteristics was his red hair.  Just recently, Mandy gave birth to their fourth child, a son, Tanner.  Brett and Mandy were surprised and humbled to discover that Tanner, too, has red hair, just as like his big brother Chase.  It seems that through Tanner’s red hair, God has reminded Brett and Mandy of his continued presence and blessing even after unspeakable loss.

During Heather’s pregnancy with Micah, she had no less than three separate ultrasounds. Based upon at least two separate ultrasounds, we were told that our little Micah would be a girl.  As a result, Micah was known as “Haley” in those months immediately preceding “her” birth.  Heather had a number of “pink” baby showers, and as of the moment of “Haley’s” birth, our home was filled with a lot of pink clothes and baby items.  In God’s unsearchable humor and wisdom, the ultrasound machines (or technicians) were wrong, and “Haley” turned out to be a boy. Through Micah’s birth, death, and two more boys, we’ve held on to all those pink clothes.  Now, with the expected birth of our baby #4 just weeks away, Heather and I have remarked at God’s sense of humor.  How we’ve come full circle with those pink clothes.  In God’s plan, a plan that is certainly his, not ours, those pink clothes will be used. 

As we have endured the grieving process together, we have tried to look for some of God’s blessings to us in and through our grief.  Since we believe there are no such things as “chance” occurrences, we can attempt to discern meaning in the “small things” of life.  God is sovereign over all things, whether wars and famines, nations and calamities--even the gender of our children, their hair colors, and faulty ultrasound machines.  I think that God sometimes uses these seemingly “small” circumstances in life to provide us with a sense of irony (perhaps humor?) and to remind us of who really is in control.  For that, let’s praise Him all the more. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Abraham's Faith

Heather and I recently studied the Old Testament account of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his only son, Isaac.  God miraculously provided Abraham and his wife, Sarah, with a son, Isaac, so that God could fulfill his promise to Abraham, the father of Israel. In Genesis chapter 22, God directs Abram to take Isaac, the very son through whom God was going to fulfill his promise to Abraham, go up onto a mountain, and murder him as a sacrifice to God.  Amazingly, Abraham obeyed without hesitation and without complaint. Then, just as Abraham was about to lower the knife upon his long-awaited son, God provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice in lieu of his son. 

This is truly an amazing story of faith. The extent to which Abraham was “tested” makes the entire story seem like an ancient Greek myth, particularly in an age like ours. But rather than dismiss it as such, I’m sure there are numerous applications to each of us for how Abraham acted in faith.  For me, there are two ways in which Abraham’s faith is convicting.    

First, are we willing to follow God at any cost?  In other words, do we really love God more than anything else in our lives, even our own children? The greatest commandment is not “Love your children with all your heart ….,” but instead, “Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27).  Thankfully, we are not being called by God to bring our children to the sides of mountaintops to kill our own children.  But whether you lost a child or face or types of significant sufferings, the question remains: Are you still willing to trust in God, and love God, even after what God allowed to happen?  Christ’s death on the cross demonstrated that there is no “line to be crossed” by which we can say that the cost we suffered is too much to bear, and that we can no longer follow him. 

Second, is my faith such that I believe God can accomplish his purposes through any means?  If you are honest, I’m guessing that your initial reaction to Abraham’s action in following God, even to the point of sacrificing his son, was “what was Abraham thinking?”  That is, what was he thinking that God was going to accomplish through the death of Issac and, therefore, why should he obey God?  

But God was not “testing” Abraham’s logic; it was a test of his faith. Abraham trusted that God could accomplish his purposes through any means.  In Hebrews 11:19, the author says about Abraham, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” 

In Abraham’s case, the benefits of trusting God, even when he did not understand his ways, were two-fold.  On the one hand, he received his son back.  The earthly life of his long-sought after son was no consolation to whatsoever when, in the moment of testing, he faced the very real prospect that his long-promised son would be a victim of his own knife, his own hand, his own sacrifice.  And, secondly, he could marvel all the more at God’s sovereign work in his life.  Abraham would have not had the opportunity to worship God’s special provision for him in this circumstance had he not “stepped out” in faith. 
I pray that you will, like me, follow Abraham’s lead in loving God more than anything else.  I pray that you will trust him more, so that you can see how we intervenes in our lives to provide reason to honor, love and trust Him.    

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Greatness Found in a Short Life

By reason of God's sovereign power and wisdom, we can consider even the shortest human life to be a great work of God.  Pastor David Mathis of Bethlehem Baptist Church encouraged me this morning with his words from his message given last week at the funeral of the infant son of his good friend.  For words of encouragement and wisdom to grieving parents, see