Wednesday, May 16, 2007

both and

Well, this is as good as law school gets- done with finals and not aware of your grades. I’ve got a one-week class right now that started on Saturday. Let’s just say one week has never seemed so long.

There’s a brief school break coming after this class, and we are excited to put more time into our idea of helping out special needs families. Ginny has been busy making jewelry. She has a show in St Louis weekend after next; then we are headed to Louisiana for a little downtime.

Right now we have been accumulating information from some churches and organizations already doing great things. This information has been really helpful, and we are excited to turn our efforts toward hosting a respite night.

Two weeks ago, I attempted to discuss how my heart had turned a corner in some regards. I intended to continue that dialogue last week but opted for a Mother’s Day moment. With that said, here’s the sequel.

When life is turned upside down, as it sometimes is, and everything held dear is tested, weighed, and held suspect- then certain issues that have long been fringe are shifted to center and await resolve. These questions, doubts, and wonderings can haunt, screaming out for answers; but answers to such do not come easy, if at all.

One such God-query has become my unwelcomed companion since losing my son. The discussion of such yields much better to a conversation over coffee than through a screen- but here goes.

We found out that “Baby Mooney” (we didn’t know it was a boy ‘til birth) had Trisomy 18 at thirty weeks of pregnancy. This discovery brought with it many crises. One of which was how to broach the subject with God.

The archives of this blog will surrender our approach. We asked for healing. We hoped for our own miracle. Thus, our prayers allowed for God’s sovereignty while, in no uncertain terms, asking Him to intervene, to act, to heal.

** I must digress to say that I, by no means intend to indicate that we did it right. Having come to know many others who have walked a similar road, I could never stand in judgment of anyone who has journeyed down this terrible path. I only desire to relay how we felt and what we learned; not to say, that the way we approached this news is the correct one.**

As is known, God did not do that which we asked. Days since Eliot have left me asking of God what he wanted from me. It seemed to me there were two distinct options for us at that time, both seemingly true yet completely in opposition.

First, scripture seems to provide ample things one can do when faced with difficulty:
Pray in Jesus Name (John 16:23)
Fast (Matthew 6:16)
Group Prayer (Matthew 18:19, 20)
OK, there are many more, but you get the idea. Generally, the tone of scripture seems to encourage us to ask for big things, believing for big things. Because God cares and wants to know our heart’s desires. Thus, we are not left to throw up our hands and say, “what will be, will be”; rather, we can bend the ear of an omnipotent God who actually wants us to approach Him with such requests.

Sounds good, but, now the flipside. Scripture also reveals a God who is in control. A being who is not surprised by occurrences such as Trisomy or terrorist attacks or whatever. The picture painted is of a deity who is able to work within horrendous circumstances for good, but His own hand controlled all along.

I must admit, that in the weeks beyond my son, and even still, I wish the second God was the whole picture. Why doesn’t He just say, “I am in control. What will be, will be. Just trust me.” But, oh no, He goes and tells us to ask, to believe, to have faith.

Buying into the definition #2 would have been much easier at the outset. I could have determined that my son had a fatal disease and that was the end of the story. I would have still believed in God. Accepting this as His plan, and taking whatever He gave. But this would not acknowledge that my God claims he can raise the dead.

Well, an occurrence at my church- which I will save the details for anyone who wants to take me up on the coffee offer- finally allowed me some resolve.

My God is a “both and” kind of God. His ways are not my ways. Thus, two things at odds in my head can be true in God. Are true in God. I have come to believe that my Father can perform miracles. When difficulties come, he has no problem with us asking if this cup can pass, and He is able to make it pass, whatever it may be. Simultaneously, we must acknowledge that He is always in control when He asks us to bear the cup.

I do not know why God has us ask when He knows what lies ahead. But this I know, I will ever more boldly ask the impossible of my Father. And, thereafter, surrender to His control of all things.


Barb said...

Dear Matt and Ginny,

A friend sent me your YouTube video yesterday. I have not been able to get it off my mind since then. I have passed it on to my circle of friends, starting such discussions as hope, love, faith, pro-life, celebration of life. I am blown away by the love and hope you had shown. I was encouraged to be grateful for the health of my teen daughters and my grandson, Gio, born just one day and one month before Eliot. For us, all are healthy, but because my daughter is single, living with us and a freshman in college this year, there are all those other complications that in the light of your story, are just so small. So thank you for sharing.

Sharing your story, opening your life like you are doing, has a great impact. The Lord will honor your faithfulness and your love. He will hold you up.

All that you said is true. It is only a brief time, really, until you are with Eliot again. Until then, God will use this for His glory in ways you cannot even imagine.

Because you showed great love. You showed great hope. You showed great faith. And He is a great God. And a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

I am praying for direction, purpose and all the desires of your heart for you both.

rcfinley said...

Matthew, you have become an incredible young man and father. I have tried to e-mail you, but your yahoo mail comes back. Would love to hear from you!
Coach Finley

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post!!

Dara Young said...

Dear Matt and Ginny:

Greetings from North Carolina. I am a pastor's wife here and often struggle with giving answers to grieving hearts. Your latest entry is such a perfect description of our Father and our God. I have been seeking answers in my own life and your posting about serving God out of surrender and not understanding has stayed with me ever since I read it. Thank you so much for letting God use you to be the strength I needed to travel this past mile. You are always in my prayers and I am so thankful to have "met" you.

FunkyMonkeyJunk said...

I have several athiest friends. And it is in these type of crises (life, faith) that I can do nothing but witness by my faithfulness to my Father. It's unexplainable unless you've walked in the believer's shoes.

I have no doubt that one of the (many!) gifts of little Eliot's life, is how deeply it's ministered to those witnessing your struggle...believers and unbelievers. It may not make the pain any better, but may allow a tiny glimpse into His grander purpose.

Please know that many months ago, you ministered to me in the midst of a very deep faith crisis. I lost a pregnancy after 10 years of infertility. Needless to say I was a leetle angry at God and His timing. But learning your story reminded me how Sovereign He is and what I need to focus on - not my pain, but His Goodness and Faithfulness. A thank you is so insufficient for my gratitude towards the two of you! But thank you nonetheless!

Mandy said...

You continue to offer us inspiration and hope through your posts. Thank you for continuing to pray for our family and Madeline. We know God is using you to help us through this trying time. Thank you for so openly sharing your story.

Mandy and Brian Hopkins

Kim said...

Thank you for this post and your encouraging words. I have loved your Eliot video. I pray it encourages many. What a beautiful picture of life and God's sovereignty.

We love wearing our Eliot necklaces and will always remember.


Anonymous said...

where is the show in st. louis?!!

kelandalaina said...

Thank you (again) for your transparency! What the Lord is doing in your lives is affirming the truths he's taught me through my own journey...I'd love to take you up on the "coffee" suggestion, but since I'm in Michigan that probably won't happen anytime soon! Know that you and Ginny are in our thoughts and prayers, and as you offered to me in a recent email, if there is anything myself or Tiny Purpose can do for you guys, know that you just have to ask!

Alaina Hiatt

Anonymous said...

Thank you for pondering this thought that I have often had myself. I've never written, but have been keeping up with your family since before Eliot was born. I pray for continued peace, understanding and healing to both of you. Our God is an Awesome God and He has used Eliot's story in an Awesome way. He leaves a legacy many 90 year olds can't even touch!
What a precious angel he is.

Sue said...

Thank you for being so open, I found you through Kim's blog.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Donna said...

There have been so many times that I have pondered the two opposing mindsets you mention here. Thank you for your eloquent explantion- it makes so much sense and has offered me a sense of peace. I will continue to pray for miracles, knowing that He is in control and that my ways are not His ways.

On a side note, I am so touched by the 99 balloons video. I can't put into words yet how exactly it (and your blog writings) have touched my life, but hopefully one day soon the right words will come. When they do, I'll share them with you so you will have one more story of how God's love has revealed itself through Eliot's life.
Thank again for sharing...

Anonymous said...

Dear Matt and Ginny,

Eliot was so blessed to have a Mom and Dad who truly loved him. Looking through your blogs it is clear you made every day of his life a celebration. My wife and I lost our 3rd child about 15 years ago. He had a birth defect called Potters Syndrome and only lived 6 1/2 hours. We named him Seth. Seth changed our lives forever. I can tell you that God can turn tragedy into triumph. I can also tell you at almost 15 years there is still times when it hurts. I can also tell you that it does get better day by day. I can still remember the first 6 months after he died. I would go to work and drive to a quiet place on my lunch hour and cry the whole hour. It was sort of my time of grieving and letting it out of my system. But like I said earlier the hurt gets a little better everyday. You're just going to have to keep the faith in Christ going strong everyday. Since Seth died we went on to have 4 more children. Every year as a family we set aside his birthday and spend it celebrating it just as if he was with us. I'm sorry for your loss and wish God would have healed your little boy. I also know that the time you did have Eliot will change you for a lifetime. Even though a parent losing a child is probably the most difficult thing you can experience. I would do it all again. May God richly bless you both and strengthen you day by day.

ashli said...

I'm sorry this is one of many comments in the comments section of a blog. It would have been better if I had written you directly. Even better if I had called you on the phone. Even better if we sat and talked over coffee.

I'd order a nice venti latte (eleven sugars, please) and tell you that my sweet husband and I lost our first child too. In infancy too. Over an illness that neither of us expected too. We got broadsided by life's whammy too. We would talk. I would pour more sugar into my latte and more of my heart into the conversation.

And nothing would change.

In spite of the beautiful things that have come (for so many) from the lives of our children, the heavy weight of their deaths is still our burden. But after talking, maybe we'd share the load a little.

Maybe something meaningful and/or comforting would come out of the conversation. Maybe we would have another one later. And another and another until we were old friends. Good friends with a closer, more lasting relationship. Who knows... maybe eventually it would undergo the ultimate inner-circle evolution: regular Canasta night at our house with guacamole and chips! (And coffee!)

Maybe this is partly why God tells us to ask. Because when we ask we're talking to Him. And when we talk to Him, it strengthens the relationship. Just think...God says that He already knows what we need before we ask, so why do we even need to ask? I don't think it's a trick. The more we sit down and have coffee with God...the deeper we go, the closer we get. That He wants a relationship with us is amazing to ponder.

Why the blind man was healed and why Paul wasn't...well that's another cup of coffee, isn't it!

Mayhem And Miracles said...

Matt, you are going to make an amazing lawyer. You have such a gift for presenting facts, without a lot of flowery language, and relaying your thoughts with such beauty and poignency. What you have described here is something I have spent many years pondering, but could not put into words to ask the wisdom of others. Perhaps I just didn't have the context of such a life experience to know how. Thank you for being willing to share not just the questions, but the possible answers you are learning. It is a bigger blessing to me than you will ever know.

Jeff, Abbey, and Reed Land said...

What a wonderful story of love! I am not sure what denomination you are, but LifeWay Church Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention is doing some wonderful work with special needs children, adults, and families.

Anonymous said...

you are so awesome matt mooney!!

GrannyGrump said...

99 Balloons rocked. I'm sharing it left and right.

One of the most important people in my life was a developmentally disabled man I worked with for less than a year. He, like Eliot, never said a word. He, like Eliot, was a lowly thing in the world's eyes. But, as you said, it pleases God to use the lowly things to reveal His glory. I'm going through a spiritual crisis and 99 Balloons came at a time when I needed it. I watch it again and again, just absorbing. It's like I have a festering wound in my soul and that little video is the healing bath I need to soak it in.

Go figure. God never does things the way anybody expects Him to.

GrannyGrump said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ivey Elizabeth Sirmans said...

Dear Matt and Ginny,
This is somewhat belated, but I hope that Ginny had a wonderful Mother's Day. She is a mother.
Two, your strength is commendable, so is Ginny's.

GadgetMan said...

That is quite a touching story. It just shows that God has an amazing awesome effect on our lives, that we can't really comprehend. Sometimes, curve balls will come at us in life which will make us question why this is happening. But the key thing is to have faith in God, and let God be in control not us.

I pray for both of you during this difficult time, and commend you for having the true faith in God. You exemplify the example that Jesus laid for each of us.

Anonymous said...

Dear Matt, thank you so much for sharing your story with us, I to have just become a dad, you have really encouraged me. You are a remarkable man rich in humility and the love of Christ. I read your last post and I wanted to share with you a theologian I know to have a helpful theology on suffering - Greg Boyd has a book called "Is God to Blame" and takes up the seeminly distinctive 2 views of God you mentioned from the Scriptures. I hope this is of some help. Blessings, Phil in London