Saturday, June 09, 2012

Ahh, Great Master, come soon!
"In this world"
You said,
"In this world..."
we do, our master, we do have trouble
great trouble as the heathen rage in vain
as your people stumble in the darkness
children of light, when the day is gone
"Take heart"
You said
"Take heart"
And we do, master, when our hearts fail
we take heart, even as they are sorely tried
as they are sad, we dig as through mud
to find the ore of your promised hopes
"I have overcome the world"
You said
"I have overcome the world"
We do not yet see it, yet the star has risen
In our hearts, your morning star - and also
the words of your apostles, your prophets
Master, you tasted dying, and now stand crowned


Yet we still live among thorns,
and these are still our crowns
Master, keep us from stumbling
faithful, for the crowns of life.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

If I am complimented on my faith, Lord, what should I say?
You know, You see, my faith is nothing but waiting
they seem to think that it grows flowers
but it's dry, so very dry.
It's a flat dry ocean, for miles and miles
the ground is nothing but curled chips of dry clay
and that's all, that's all, just that and waiting
for a rain that will bring flowers
a rain that may come
but we've been waiting so very long,
since before I've been born
and why should you come tomorrow?
why not in a million years?
why not a trillion?
if your soon is so different
God, would you have me hope?
I do hope, inasmuch as I am alive
I hope, yes, but the widow's bones
are dry outside the judge's house
she's still waiting.
You'll find faith, sure enough
I cannot do anything else
if you do not answer, 
then there's no use going home
so let our bones dry out
at your doorstep
I will not be surprised
when you come,
but I will not be surprised
when you don't either.
we are brought very low
please excuse us
if we are only bones
these bones are faith,

Friday, June 01, 2012

What can I write for your funeral, my son?
What can I tell our friends? Our family?
Why do people go to funerals? For the "deceased"? For themselves? For the family?

I know nearly no one really knew our Baby, Elias. We kept him mostly to ourselves.  What you know of him is probably what you've seen in videos we've posted.  So I'd like to tell you a little about him, and about our story with him.

When Brandy convinced me to have another child, I was apprehensive. I kept telling her "If three is good enough for God, it's good enough for me" (referencing the trinity).  My secret fear, which I shared with her, was that something could go wrong. A journal entry from around that time reads:

"I'm always paranoid whenever she's pregnant that something will go wrong with the pregnancy/baby, so pray for me. That's part of my fear of having more children, I feel like all the ones so far have five fingers and toes, and we should quit while we're ahead. But God has spoken..." 

When she was pregnant though, I was happy, all my hesitation was gone but I still was concerned for my child who was coming. We prayed and prayed for his health, for his safety.

Elias was born. Minutes later he was diagnosed with TEF. Holding him, from that first sweet little cry we loved him to overflowing.  I can see his sweet face in my mind as I type this.
As the news spread that he would be undergoing surgery, so many people helped and loved us, joining us in prayer! As we were bringing him to the surgical area, the surgeon anesthesiologist came out and told us stories about work done in Africa. The mothers there whose babies have TEF walk for days to the hospital, their babies are starved and near death by the time they get surgery. He reassured us that Elias would be OK.

The surgery was successful.  He recovered from the surgery, but got a respiratory illness while there.  We prayed, and it went away.
When we got to take the tubes off, hold him, and see his eyes open! His sweet blue eyes - I have a video of his first bath, we were up all night holding him. I remember how he would watch the lights in the hospital, he always liked looking at lights.

When we took him home, it soon became apparent that he had some kind of liver issue. The doctors suspected it was biliary atresia, a condition requiring a liver transplant, and often fatal.  We prayed it would go away, I even entered in my journal a covenant that if God would just make it go away as though it had not been there, I would count it as a true miracle.  The following Sunday it resolved in the middle of a church service, a miracle!

He grew and grew, always well at the doctors, beautiful boy, full of talks. So expressive! He would grab at everything, watching him reach for his toys, grab them, get more and more expressive.
The kids would play with him constantly and he knew all their faces. I would look forward to coming home each morning from the night shift to greet him and kiss him, I would wash my hands and change my shirt every time hoping to prevent passing any germs on to him. He would recognize me and if I reached for him, when he was lying down, he would arch his back so I could reach around and pick him up. Everything was such a joy, he was beginning to sit himself up in his chair - he almost always wanted someone to talk to him.  If he was crying, nine times out of ten he would start smiling and talking again if we would just talk to him. I would hold him and carry him into the bedroom where the closet mirrors were, and he would watch his reflection and start talking to it.  I could tell his lungs were congested, and he was having something like asthma attacks - we told so much to the doctors but the doctors kept telling us nothing was wrong.

Brandy called me, I came, saw the paramedics.

At the hospital we prayed! Jesus' parable came to mind, the one He told to show that we ought always to pray and not lose heart: the parable of the widow and the unjust judge - give me justice against my adversary! Death is my adversary! We didn't stop praying.  Jesus' question at the end of the parable is "when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?  I could not believe that God who had seen my son through a successful surgery, healed him from the liver issue, would now let him die.

Elias was anointed with oil by several pastors, prayed for by hundreds, maybe thousands. Yet he was taken! Some people say God did it, that He took our son...yet death is the final enemy!

Can prayers be unanswered? Psalm 50 God reassures us:"Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will save you, and you will glorify me" Is this true? Many would twist this in a desperate bid to justify God and say that death is a sort of salvation.

Many prayed for "God's will to be done".  I never did. I knew that in most people's minds, "God's will" in that phrase is used as an equivalent to the death of my sweet helpless son.  But I don't believe that. God's will for infants is clear to us: "It is not the will of my Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."  Jesus said that.

Is God ever on the side of death?

As his young daughter died in his arms, Martin Luther reproached himself because God had blessed him as no bishop in 1000 years, yet he could not find it in his heart to give God thanks at the death of his daughter Magdalena. Rather he said:

"You will rise and shine like the stars and the sun. How strange it is to know that she is at peace and all is well, and yet to be so sorrowful!"

READ THE GOSPELS! - Did Jesus ever pat anyone on the back and send them away? When infants were brought to him, did He ever say "Sorry, God wants this one" and twist their necks? No! Did he agree with Martha about delaying her brother's resurrection 'til the last day?  Is it for nothing that his apostle John tells us that "The Son of Man came to destroy the works of the devil."?
When was it ever Jesus "Will" to withhold healing from someone brought to Him?

And Jesus says "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."

Luther was right not to thank God for his daughter's death.  As in the parable of the tares: "An enemy did this!" Death is an enemy. God calls it the final enemy. It is to be thrown into the lake of fire along with Satan.  God receives the souls of His own, including the souls of those little ones to whom belongs the Kingdom, but He does not wish their deaths.

I hate death! Brandy and I want to hate what God hates, and love what He loves. We would have taught Elias to do the same.

We show you the best that we can. This whole funeral -the songs, the clothing, our son's clean white casket- is not to make death (my enemy and God's) "pretty"; rather this is warpaint.
We are flaunting the gifts of life and love in the face of the enemy, passing the blade of God under his nose - preparing our feet for the day when God crushes him under our feet!  I love my son and will never stop! I will always pray for his resurrection, until the coming of Christ, if it takes that long.

So...if death is an enemy, why does God allow it?  Why does God let Himself "lose" in the losses of His saints?  Why are we allowed to cry out without answer? Like the Psalmist: 

" have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil..."

And lest Job's friends come to say that this sort of thing is ours as a payment for some secret sin, the psalmist and I continue:

"All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant."

There was no praying, no fasting, no scriptural instruction or condition not met for my son's healing.  Sometimes I believe all life of saints on earth between the Fall and Christ's second coming is a commentary and repetition of the book of Job.
God allows his servants here sometimes to be harassed and tortured by Satan without answer except those moments (Like the end of the book of Job) when he reveals Himself for a moment, and we repent in dust and ashes for any ill thoughts of Him. But it is better to have been appalled at this state of things and expect better from our God as Job did than to (like his "comforters") say that God's in His heaven, and all's right with the world.

"After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."

Will we curse God and die? How can we? He still has the words of eternal life.
Can we still trust in His goodness in the face of this? He is all our goodness!  I think of my son, my Elias, my beautiful son, and know that all his sweetness and Goodness is an overflow of the goodness of God, a God who brought him into being and promises his resurrection.
We have been promised a regeneration of all things - even the prophets did not receive what had been promised - I will wait for the day of restoration and judgement.

There is a hole in the universe - my son!  What is this universe, a universe without Elias? It is a foreign place, and I never want to get used to it. May I never be false to my God or my Son and proclaim a false recovery from a wound that cannot be healed until the regeneration of all things at the Coming of our Lord,  Jesus Christ.

What would you do, if you were told to answer 5-2=, and if you were told that you could not answer "3", for there was no longer any "3" to put in that place?  You could only wait, and hold the place until the right answer could once again be given.

Our Son! We cannot be healed - not until the restoration, we can only be sustained in the midst of ruins, trusting in the Goodness of God and the sureness of His promises.  So that's what we do, we patch the hole with promises until the day we receive them.

We know we are not the first ones to have lost a dear baby, and we likely will not be the last.  Most have not had the love and support of friends and family as we have, most have not been given the ever-present help of Christ in the hands and help of so many as we have. We are humbled by all of you, humbled at how you have all rushed so quickly to help us, and keep us from any of the myriads of associated indignities and hassles that surround something as horrible as the death of a loved one.  We have been uniquely blessed and freed to fight in prayer for our son until his spirit left to the Father, and then freed to grieve and pray and hope.

And you, our friends, our family, who have joined us in suffering and prayer, please join us in hope!  Your suffering and prayers are not, were not, in vain.  All the promises are in Christ "Yes and Amen", even if we have to wait until His coming to be vindicated, our prayers will be brought to remembrance, and answered, and on that day it won't be us, but rather death who will be robbed and humiliated.