Friday, September 15, 2006

Okay, I did not get into too much trouble. More apprehension than actual animosity. Yay!

Seriously, I tremendously appreciate your encouragement Deanna's way. It did make her smile.

While I would never wish for another to have to walk in our shoes, I suppose it is inevitable. One of the things that happens as a result, is how your perspective changes. It changes in many ways I suppose. How you view life. How you view death. How your anticipation of heaven changes. How you view your walk with the Lord. How your attitude towards the time you have left is altered. Even in how your mind shifts a bit when you read and contemplate Scripture.

When the life of your child is so completely sold out to Christ and then they lay it down and make the ultimate sacrifice, or even when you begin to see within them that they no longer are motivated by worldly pleasures, it impacts your own perspective. It causes your foundation to sway a bit, if that foundation is not as it should be.

I remember the words from a little over a year ago so clearly. Even though at the time, I thought he was being overly dramatic. The doctor at the hospital had just delivered the news to us that he was extremely ill, and would need to be transported to a hospital with pediatric intensive care so that he could be put on a ventilator when necessary.

The color drained from my face. My knees went unstable, and I thought I might fall down. In those moments of being exploded into a decimating reality, BJ calmly and lovingly looked at me and said (while struggling to breathe), "Dad, I know you're scared. I believe the Lord is gonna deliver me through this, but if he doesn't, I'm going home to be with Him and that's okay with me."

How could he be so strong when I wasn't? It was his life in the balance. How could he have such peace?

The peace of God is an amazing thing! That peace comes in times of trial and suffering. That peace would come to us in the upcoming tide of hours, days and weeks. It is not that He was not with me in that moment of shock, it was that He was surely carrying me in my momentary unbelief. Not unbelief in Him, but in what I was hearing, in the experience that was coming at us with such extreme velocity.

During the 6 weeks he spent in the hospital, 31/2 of them were spent on ECMO. While on this lung bypass system, his body had to be elevated about 6 feet or more off of the ground. This was achieved by placing his ordinary bed onto a motorcycle lift, and jacking it up to whatever height produced the best results.

This meant we had to climb metal stairs to stand at his side, to stroke his hair, to offer updates on what you, the body were doing in response to his situation.

Every time I walked into the room, I was reminded of a story from the Word I had always struggled with as a father. Each time I approached him, and saw him elevated is such manner, I was reminded of Abraham and Isaac. How was it that Abraham had the strength, the courage, the visceral fortitude to bind his son, and place him on the altar of sacrifice? What kind of father was he anyway?

How could any human patriarch allow such extreme violence to his own hand? What kind of obedience was this? If "obedience is better than sacrifice," what in the world was this? Obedience that is also sacrifice? How could that square?

The first and each ensuing time I saw BJ up there, I thought about the conversation that surely took place between father and son so many years ago. What must Isaac have said as dad began to bind his hands. What form of madness would find a father building and altar utilizing the labor of his son and then boosting his son into the seat of agony? How Isaac much have squirmed and fought against his ropes.

Yes, dad had said, "The Lord will provide." Did that mean He didn't, and so now the only option was Isaac?

The Lord recently reminded me that the evening of BJ's first day on ECMO, a spontaneous prayer meeting occurred outside the elevators, in the middle of the hall of the PICU. During that time, I surrendered him to the Lord. My words were something along the lines of, "God, it appears you are setting up a platform for BJ's ministry. If you will receive the most glory through this, then You know this is what we prefer. However, if you will receive greater glory in his death, then take him home, he is ready."

The more I have thought about Abraham and Isaac, the more I believe I was wrong. My perspective has changed. I believe the peace of God prevailed upon this most difficult of situations.

I believe in those moments atop the rocks, just before the sacrificial knife was raised over his body, Isaac looked deep into his father's eyes and said, "Dad, I know you're scared. I believe the Lord is gonna deliver me through this, but if he doesn't, I'm going home to be with Him, and that's okay with me."

Isaac was delivered, and God was glorified.
BJ was taken home, and God was glorified.

"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord."


I return to FBC Snellville this weekend to participate in the closing of their Global Impact Conference. Please continue to pray for this body as they seek the Lord in missions!


At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your family has been on my mind a lot lately -- a lot more than usual. But know that each time your names run through my mind, I say a prayer for you.

Recently I found myself also thinking a lot about Isaac and found your words helpful in my "study" on him. This past March, I had to write a paper on Romans 12:1-5 (most of my paper was on vv. 1 & 2 though) and the idea of offering ourselves up as a living sacrifice made me think of Isaac. Even though Isaac did not die that day, I am sure that he left a chaged man.

Laura Allyn

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless you...
Greenfield, Indiana

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless You Family
Inianapolis, IN

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brent and Deanna, just wanted to say hello and that I still read your blog often. It's my favorite time here at the camp right now and the leaves are already beginning to change. I know this is a tough time right now but God is keeping you both so busy. This is also close to my time of loss. Your family has so many beautiful memories of BJ and they are so precious. I have a card from my son that is addressed to Mom and that is the most precious thing to me, a piece of yellowed paper, because you know that I am not his biological mother but I loved him as my own child and I know that he loved me. I still miss him so much but what a comforting thought to imagine he and BJ know each other. What a happy day it will be when we're all there together and we won't have to miss each other anymore. Praise Jesus we will have that day. I'm praying especially for you Deanna. Johns daughter is a new teacher this year and is in a very similiar situation. It's because your both loving caring teachers and I thank God for you. Have a great weekend and God bless. Miss you much.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Oh my gosh all those memories of the year past come flooding back as I read todays post. Memories of updates and memories of the body of Christ joining together as one voice lifting Bj up to the throne room of grace.

I believe that BJ had so much in common with both Abraham and Isaac. Abraham was sold out and trusted and relied 100% on God, Bj did exactly the same, he put his trust in the Lord. Abraham loved the Lord with all he had and knew that Isaac was a gift from the Lord, he was the Lord's first, before he was Abraham's, and Isaac trusted both his earthly father and his Heavenly Father and was willing to be the sacfrice if it brought glory to the Lord.

BJ showed us what it was to have the faith of Abraham and the trust of Isaac.

And you Brent and Deanna showed us what it was/is to be a family dedicated to the Lord's will.

I pray your time back at FBC this weekend will be fruitful for the working of the Lord, that hearts will be softenend and changed by the work of the Holy Spirit, and that you too, Brent will be ministered to in a powerful and mighty way.

In His Love

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen Brad

At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tonight I was reading the write up in the MercyMe cover and my curiosity got the best of me. I got out of bed to get on BJ's website. As I read today's entry a flood of emotions came over me. You see, I have worn these shoes myself. Me & my wife unexpectantly lost our 8 yr old daughter Zoie Samantha Willeford to Juvenile Diabetes on August 19th, 2005. Zoie was a christian through & through. Just as it seems with you (from BJ's life) we have learned (and still are learning) so much from Zoie's life. We have become closer to God because of Zoie's death. We don't understand how or why she could be taken from us but trust God that this is the way it is supposed to be. Zoie's death has made us better christians and she has had an amazing impact on our community. We can tell from BJ's story that he had an impact on the world. We will keep your family in our daily prayers for we know the difficulties of daily living when you lose your child. I have always prayed that I could be more like Jesus and when Zoie died I added to my prayer that I could be more like her also. I will now add BJ to that list. He seemed to be like Jesus. May God bless your family and may we all come closer to Jesus in these trying days. Darrin, Trudi, Jot & our angel Zoie Willeford.

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incredible. Thank you for that.

At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I purchased the Mercy Me album today because I heard the song 'So Long Self' on the radio last week. For some reason I decided to read the liner notes and read of BJ's website.

Through his blog and the things he spoke about regarding living a life completely surrendered to the Lord, he helped me to remember my beginnings as a servant of the Lord.

I thank the Lord, Mercy Me, BJ and all of you for helping a worn out soldier of the Lord come back to joy, peace and trust in God's sovereignity and the joy of serving Him.

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes obedience can be a sacrifice, but to sacrifice is to obey.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Jacktopher Meils said...

Can you give me your address? I'd like to send you some stuff.

Email it to me:


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