Home > Uncategorized > 07.18.11 The One Year Mark

07.18.11 The One Year Mark

A year has gone by. One year ago next Thursday, Peter drove to do a morning’s yard work for a widow in our church. He was earning a little pocket money for college expenses. Doug and I went to work out at the fitness center; we would see him later in the day. He never made it to her home. Instead we got a call from the hospital telling us that our son had barely lived through a horrific car wreck and might not make it through the day.

Now he is in our home. He and his brother Andrew, both history buffs, once tried to stump each other on hard questions: “Who was the French king who went on the fourth Crusade? Which Roman Emperor was a Stoic?” Now, Andrew shows Peter flash cards, hoping he remembers what a cat and a horse and a duck are.

Last year, he was eager to spread his wings and live as a young man, managing his own stuff and schedule at school. Now we dress him and feed him every day.

Last year, he was looking forward to sharpening his debate skills on the college debate team, for which, though an incoming freshman, he had earned a varsity scholarship. Today, we pray to hear him speak again.

So day after day, we continue therapy. We try to do one or more hours each of speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, and cognitive therapy every day, for a total of four to six hours daily, depending on how much sleep he needs that day. We continue to see small improvements.

You know, the Christian religion, contrary to what many believe, does not fit into that great American ideal of pragmatism. We got that from Ben Franklin, not Christ. We don’t follow Christ because “he works” to solve all our problems. We don’t trade in our obedience for present-day rewards. We get this notion in our heads that if we can just pray with a certain amount of faith, or obey all the “Christian” rules, or live our lives by certain “principles,” we are guaranteed the Lord’s blessings in tangible, earthly manifestations, in the timing we think best.

But this is not about “what works.” In fact, the Bible is pretty much a story of believers not getting earthly rewards for their following of Christ. See Moses, Joseph for years of his life, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Paul, Peter, and many other first century disciples. These people suffered great hardships throughout their lives, some without relief, even while doing what God had given them to do. The message is much more: you do what’s right and leave the results to God.

That ethic guides how we approach Peter. So Doug says that no matter how much recovery Peter ever attains, he would still do mat session daily. We would still keep him beside us and talk to him and read Scripture to him and play Mozart and Rachmaninoff for him and exercise his hands with his basketball. I guess you could call it our version of Martin Luther’s idea that if he knew that the world were coming to an end tomorrow, he would still plant a tree today. We do it because he is our son and it is right for us to do this for him, not contigent on any way Peter can pay us back for our investment in the future. Nothing that we do that is beautiful and right and obedient for Christ can ever be wasted.

“Duty is ours; results are God’s,” claimed that beloved but defeated military general. The tricky part is to do our duty by Peter in the midst of great grief, keeping hopeful spirits upbeat, even while we miss fellowshipping with him so much. As Andrew says, we can never let our sadness drive us away from Peter. Rather, in our sadness we move towards him and keep loving him. For that, we are daily dependent on the Lord’s grace.

Next week, Andrew will return to Notre Dame, to pick the academic thread of his life back up and resume the pursuit of his professional calling. He has been a full partner with his parents in this struggle; we have worked together daily to keep each other encouraged in the truth and to comfort each other with the Corinthians comfort of the Lord (2 Corinthians 1). I tremble in my boots over this, though Doug daily reminds me to put my trust in God. We lose not just a hard worker, but a dear and precious friend-in-arms with his absence. What has Andrew received for his labor? From an earthly perspective, a year’s lagging behind on his PhD, a herniated disc in his back, a depleted bank account, a disabled little brother–not very results-friendly. But oh, from the heavenly, so much, so much.

Last night, our church family gave Andrew a going away reception in our little fellowship hall, encouraging him and thanking him for the example of sacrificial love he had displayed to all of us. It was a close family time with tears and tender words, attending to something that had afforded us all a glimpse of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Hebrews 6:10


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. MaryBeth Seal
    July 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I am speechless after reading this log today. Our hearts go out to your family. I am looking forward to meeting you. As a nurse, a care-giver myself to my elderly mom-, and a Christian, I connect with your writing today. “It is to this you were called; to follow in His footsteps….” II Peter 2:23—-to follow in the footsteps of our Lord to the cross………

    MaryBeth Seal

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