- Posted January 16, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Why I Choose to Raise My Children with God
My wife and I stood over our son's body, bitterly wiping and attempting to comfort each other as best we could. One question continued to come back: "How could this happen? What would make a healthy thirteen-year-old athletic boy suddenly collapse from a heart attack?" As we both gently caressed his arms as his body lay on the hospital bed, I noticed his eyes weren't completely closed. In his pupils, I could see the absence of life. I wanted his eyes to focus on me, look around the room, and I wanted to hear his voice say to me, "Daddy, I'm alright." Wishful thinking, but I knew it wouldn't happen. So I slowly reached down, and gently closed his eyes.
My wife, nine year-old daughter, and I huddled in a small hospital room for privacy and continued to cry on each other's shoulders. My daughter said something that cut to my heart, through tears she mumbled, "I won't have anyone to play with anymore."
Then it came. The anger swelled up in me. Being a Christian since the age of eleven, I knew and understood the promises in the bible and the goodness and mercy of God. But in that moment, I lashed out over what I saw as a senseless death and frankly, a betrayal from an unconcerned God--if this so called God really existed. In a moment of bitterness I looked up, grinded my teeth, and said, "God, I'll never forgive You for this!"
In the days afterward a fierce battle ragged within me. "How could I have believed in the fairly-tale of God?" I reasoned. "If there really was a God, why would He allow this to happen to a good son like mine? In fact, how could He allow all the bad things in the world to happen to so many good people?" I kept my distance from this so called God--refusing to pray and neglecting to read the bible.
On the day of our son's funeral, we sat in the front row of the church. Our son's body was only a few feet away from us. My wife, gazing upon his body, completely shattered into pieces—grieving uncontrollably. In the midst of trying to comfort her and my daughter, an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair gripped my entire being. I couldn't think. I felt completely numb. "Is this all there is?" I pondered.
I decided this was do or die. This would be the defining moment of whether I continued to believe in God or lived out the rest of my life as if there wasn't. One last time, looking through tears as I peered up, I silently prayed, "Father, if You're real, I need You to speak to me. I need to hear Your voice--to feel Your presence. You promised to give me the peace that goes beyond human understanding. I need You to step off the pages and be real."
That very moment something amazing happened to me that has never happened since. I felt the most comforting of presence, almost like warm oil that began to be poured from the top of my head until it reached my entire body. I felt an incredible sense of peace that I'd never felt before. All of a sudden my mind was completely clear and the hopelessness and despair had been chased away.
When it was time for me to do the Eulogy, I stood in front of a packed church filled with people who were wondering if I would denounce God for allowing such a terrible thing to happen or if I would keep the faith.
I gazed at them, then at my wife and daughter cuddling together for comfort, and said, "I know you're wondering why I’m not crying. I want you to know that I've been down in the valley. I've stumbled around in the darkness. I've had my moments when I've felt as weak as water, and I've cried till I've ran out of tears. But I want you to know that my God has come, and He has strengthened me. He's picked my feet up out of the valley and placed them on a mountain top." With those words, the entire audience burst forth in celebration.
In the weeks, months, and years following, my heavenly Father spoke to me, explaining things I didn't understand. Sometimes His voice came in a dream, sometimes when I was wide awake, and even when I was pondering something. He touched me in ways that are indescribable.
Some people ask me why I choose to live my life believing in a God that THEY can't see, hear, or touch. Or they go on and on about their hypothesis of God's parenting skills or the hopeless conditions of this world, that to them, prove there is no God.
As for me, I can sum it up in three points: Because of my heavenly Father, I now know who I am and where I came from. Because of God, I now know my purpose in this life. And because of God, I know my future: that I will be in His beautiful presence after death, sharing eternity with others who believed. But even beyond these points, there is the fact that I know, from my personal experiences, that God is present, can be seen, touched, and heard. But only if we choose to practice the humility of setting aside our sophistication, self-elevation, and our uneducated swipes and criticisms of a God that most haven't taken the time to really learn about.
I went along with the story of Santa Claus when my children were small. I knew they would eventually find out the truth--that's it's only a fairly-tale. What do I tell my daughter about my heavenly Father? The truth: that He's an ever present help in a time of need. I do this not because I'm forced or coerced into doing it. I do it because I choose to. After all, like Santa Claus, I know she will find out whether the Father is real or not--just like I did.