There is no way of getting around faith. Faith is essential to the life of a Christian. Not blind faith but faith nonetheless. God didn't leave us without a mountain of tangible evidence to support our faith in Him but there is something deeper beyond that which satisfies our logic and intellect. When tragedy comes to us in this fallen world it is of little use to us to know apologetics. Instead we need faith to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is on His throne, that He is in control and that He is personally and intimately involved in our lives. We need faith to have the assurance that God loves us completely and will not leave us and that what is happening to us will ultimately be worked for our good and for His glory.
5 weeks ago Chris Norton injured his spine in a football game and he initially had paralysis from the neck down. He is a freshman at Luther. I worked with his mom for 3 years over a decade ago and became a friend of the family although we have lost touch over the years. My mom brought this incident to my attention and I have been following his progress at the Mayo Clinic with daily updates through CaringBridge. The Norton family loves Jesus. They are living our their faith beautifully in the midst of something tragic. Chris is already progressing well ahead of his initial diagnosis. I just want to share excerpts of some of the postings from his dad because I think they are beautiful and poignant and words that are edifying and inspiring for all of us to read. I have always loved this passage:
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:8-9
And finally I want to thank God. We do not question "why" this happened. We will never know. This battle has only just begun. But we face tomorrrow without fear in our hearts. I pray that Chris will have a full recovery and for the strength of our family. I also pray that this battle will not be in vain. I pray that somehow through this that others will rexamine their relationship with God. That people will hold their families a little closer to their heart, that wounds between friends will begin to mend and that we all look a little closer at what is really imortant in our lives. That is my prayer.
Tuesday night when I was home (we came up on Wednesday) I was flipping through my bible and came across a Daily Bread that I had tucked in the leather cover. On the front was Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God". It brought such a sense of peace over me. When I arrived in Rochester I shared this verse with Deb. I told her I felt the most calm I had felt since this had happened. I felt so positive about what was to come. The next morning Chris wiggled his toes.
There was an article in the DM Register today. It was nicely done. There was however one quote I heard Chris say that I wished would have made the paper. Chris responded to one of the questions, "it is tough, but I know God has a plan for me." To have an 18 year old son have that kind of faith? I can honestly say it was one of the proudest moments I have had as a father.
The first week after Chris' injury I contacted Steve, one of my best friends, that I needed strong Christian men to pray for me as a father. The following day he had 24 guys assesmbled in a room to give me support on a conference call. That has turned in to a men's support group that meets once a week for an hour and call me. I shared with them last week that many of them had known me for 15-20 years. I told them I have seen miracles. Whether it is people taking us in to their home to stay at no charge, providing us with financial and prayer support, people we didn't know before coming to our aid. People like Greg, who have provided us with support when we needed it most. And I have seen healing and strength in my son. There are no coincidences.
5 weeks ago today my guy friends and I did not hug or express that we "loved" each other,
5 weeks ago today little, petty words and slights separated me from some of my friends that have all now become meaningless
5 weeks ago today I took things for granted and did not give "thanks" for every blessing bestowed upon us,
5 weeks ago today I did not realize how many of my friends, co-workers, and others around me are Christians (why are we afraid to express that?)
5 weeks ago today I stressed about little things like bills, work, our lawn, sports, etc
5 weeks ago today our Faith was tested and our lives have been changed forever
I should be in bed trying to get some sleep but I had some things on my mind. I was thinking about the word "faith". Sometimes we like to use words that sound "catchy" but really have no substance or meaning to us. I have been involved in sports all of my life and have watched people who talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. They use words like "heart", "competitor", "winner", but what I have found is that we all look good and sound believable when things are going well. It is easy to talk about these things when things are going our way, and we are "front runners". But where these words really have meaning is when things don't follow our plan, when things don't go like we want them to, or when we are truly faced with adversity and the wheels are falling off. The world is full of good "intentions". When I talk about "faith", it is not a general I have faith in the future, or faith in good luck, or faith in my own abilities. My "faith" is based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And because of this faith, I welcome what tomorrow has to bring for us.
Romans 5: 3-5
"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that sufferings produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
I keep telling Chris that he is been tried by "fire" and will come out steel. I asked him what could he not accomplish after this? I leave with this last thought. As I watch Chris in his occupational therapy try to feed himself and it literally exhausts a person who was in the best shape of their life until they can't raise their arm anymore, I think about all of the complaining I have done in my life about meaningless things, and all that I have taken for granted in my life, I think we all need to give thanks for our blessings each and every day, and appreciate all that we have.
Chris and I were talking about a specific bible verse last night and he reminded me that is what he had written on his shoes during basketball season. Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." People ask us how we are able to have such a positive attitude as we face each day. We have a positive attitude because we believe His word to be true.
As a parent, this is the toughest thing I have ever had to deal with. I see so many posts from parents, and I think we all have a common bond. I would step out in front of a truck to protect my children, as I know all of you would. I can honestly say without my Christian faith I have no idea how I would be able to get through this. Nights are the toughest because they are the toughest on Chris. We read posts from this site, read scripture, and talk. I have no doubt what the power of prayer can do. I have witnessed one small miracle after another, whether it is an unknown person stepping forward and offering their home, or family and friends helping us with taking care of our pets at home, chores around the house, and fund raising. We have had people call or send cards at times we have really needed it. I believe there are good days ahead. I have already seen the impact on our family in terms of our Christian walk and the love that has grown stronger between all of us. I pray for continued strength for our family, and all families who are facing struggles in their lives as well.
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you.
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.