On October 24th, my 17 year old daughter, Macy, was given the opportunity to speak at FCA’s “Fields of Faith” event at AT&T Jones Stadium here in Lubbock. Over 8000 were in attendance. Macy spoke about the grace of Jesus Christ, and how that grace has given the Watts family strength since her brother/our son died on May 13th. 3 pics: (1) Me, Macy & Michelle before the event, (2) Macy & her friend praying with FCA Regional Director, Terry Kinard, minutes before Macy spoke, and (3) Watching Macy speak from the End Zone.
There are 8 recorded cases in the Bible – in addition to the resurrection of Christ – where a person is raised from the dead.
I always thought these stories were intriguing before. But now, since May 13th, I think afresh of how the families must’ve felt when their loved one was brought back to life. For instance, i think of Jesus walking up to the funeral procession in the city of Nain (Luke 7:14-15) and telling that grieving mom, “Do not weep,” then telling her dead son, “Young man, I say to you, ‘arise.” Luke writes that the young man “sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”
In my mind’s eye, I think of what would have happened had a man named Jesus walked into Lakeridge Chapel on May 15th, placed his hand on Jordan, and said, “Young man, I say to you, ‘arise.” As Michelle and I were greeting guests, I can imagine the commotion that would’ve began erupting as witnesses would’ve seen Jordan sit up in that casket, step out of it, and make his way into the main greeting room – fully alive.
Am I sad this didn’t happen? Yes. And no. What Scripture gives us from the example mentioned in Luke’s gospel, as well as the other 7 biblical occurrences, is a preview of eternal life made possible by Jesus Christ, giving us the ultimate preview in the bodily resurrection of Christ, Himself. Would i love to have Jordan back? I can’t articulate how much. But, today, according to Scripture, he’s more alive than we are. He is a holy citizen of Paradise, free from depression, suffering, disease, sadness,…. But, more than anything, he’s in the arms of the Lion who is the Lamb, Jesus Christ, the Almighty.
As David said after the death of his son, “Can I bring him back again? (No.) I shall [one day] go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:23) I thank You today, Jesus, for the cross and the empty tomb.
Through a mutual friend, Southern Baptist Executive Committee President, Frank Page, learned of Jordan’s recent suicide.
Page’s daughter, Melissa, took her life, as well.
Last year, Frank published a book entitled simply, “Melissa.” He sent me a copy with a sweet note.
From his introduction: “I’m not over Melissa’s death. I admit that. I’ll never be over it. That twenty-seventh day of November changed everything. The earth shifted under my feet. The fog rolled in and wouldn’t lift. Accomplishing the simplest daily activities suddenly required dogged effort and resolve. But I can say this: I am on my way through it, and I am still in one piece. And the ‘peace of God, which surpasses every thought’ – I’m here to tell you it really can ‘guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,’ (Philippians 4:6-7), just the way the Bible says. If I didn’t know it before, I certainly know it now.”
Page addresses his readers who’ve been where he’s been as “fellow travelers on this unwanted journey.” I praise Christ for bearing this burden for me, Page, and all others who’ve been forced to endure this “unwanted journey.” As Page writes, “I am on my way through it, and I’m still in one piece.”
I visited with a friend yesterday about the stories of Gideon & Samson (their stories are recorded in the Old Testament book of Judges).
Possessing polar-opposite personalities, their stories are as opposite as they are similar. In a nutshell, Gideon was a weak man that God made strong. While Samson was a strong man that God made weak.
The not-to-be-missed common denominator, though, is their weakness. Only when they were broken & weak could God truly use them. The great Bible teacher, A.W. Tozer, once said, “God cannot use a person greatly until He has first hurt them deeply.”
Paul, the author of most of the New Testament, put it this way: “But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 NIV)
My wife, Michelle, wrote this as Christ brought fresh insight/new mercies (written in parentheses) to the lyrics of Laura Story’s song, “Blessings.” Below Michelle’s post is a picture of us with Laura Story and her daughter. Laura learned of Michelle’s blog and, when doing a concert here in Lubbock, wanted to meet Michelle. nw
I have loved the song “Blessings” for a while, and always wondered at the meaning of the last line…”…are your mercies in disguise.” As Melissa sang it at Jordan’s memorial service, God breathed new meaning into my heart as I listened to every single line. Here’s what He said to me…
…All Jordan’s life…
We pray for blessings, (…for a healthy pregnancy, and delivery…)
We pray for peace. (…let his life go smoothly.)
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep, (…no bad dreams…safe travels…)
We pray for healing, (when he had a cold, or when he almost bit his tongue in half, or when he had the chickenpox, or when he was diagnosed with clinical depression, we trusted God would use the doctor to make him well.)
for prosperity (Let him be successful with his art and music.)
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering. (“Please God… fast-forward time, so the pain of my child’s suffering and death, will not be what I think about every second of every day.)
And all the while, (Every minute of every day.)
You hear each spoken need. (He hears my second-by-second cries of despair…He hears my HUGE sighs as my body tries to rid itself of the weight of grief…at the movies, eating dinner, riding in the car, visiting with friends…yet, He KNOWS what I REALLY NEED.)
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things. (He loves us so much. He sees the ENTIRE chessboard…He KNOWS that our NEEDS are more important than relief from our human emotions.)
‘Cause what if your blessings (Growth in my knowledge of God’s character.)
come through rain drops (They definitely do with the Watts Family)
What if Your healing comes through tears (Jordan’s healing came through tears alright-Nick’s, mine, Kelsie’s, Macy’s and hundreds of others’.)
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near… (I’ve had exactly 40 of them…a thousand is a lot more to go…but while I’m up, I say verses in my head, I talk to The Lord, I ask Him questions…I KNOW He’s here.)
What if trials of this life, (Jordan’s depression, and suicide…)
are Your mercies in disguise…(Were you merciful to me Lord, by taking my son at 19? What if Jordan continued to decline, but instead of dealing with his death, we had to, on a daily basis, deal with the continual torment of wondering where he was, if he was ok, if he was cold, if he was hungry, if he was alive…although it’s a small comfort, at least we KNOW that now, he is NONE of those things! He is whole, happy, and in the presence of Jesus Christ…he is NOT suffering…)
We pray for wisdom, (How do I use this as a testimony for God’s glory when the pain is so great?)
Your voice to hear. (Sometimes I can’t hear it, because the grief drowns it out.)
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near. (I scream and groan aloud from the depths of my soul.)
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love…(Strangely, I’ve never doubted these.)
As if every promise from Your word is not enough. (God’s promises are literally ALL I have to hold on to.)
And all the while, (Even when I doubt in your very existence…a dichotomy, yes…compare to the previous two stanzas. How can I hold on to God’s truth, and doubt His very existence? Because I’m human, and I DON’T understand WHY. I don’t have the mind of Christ…His ways are higher than my ways.)
You hear each desperate plea…(I’m very desperate, and each breath is a plea.)
And long that we’d have faith to believe…(Just like an earthly father who longs for his child to trust that he’s got them…”Go ahead and jump into the deep end, I’ll catch you, I PROMISE!”)
When friends betray us…(I naively thought this was the worst pain I would ever feel in my life…)
When darkness seems to win…(satan thought he won the war when Jordan died.)
We know that pain reminds this heart…(I’m so very grateful for this reminder, even if it comes with pain.)
That this is NOT, This is not our home…(Oh, thank you, God.)
It’s not our home…(Jordan is truly “home,” and I WILL see him again!)
What if my greatest disappointments …(Jordan will never meet the girls of his dreams, never have his own family…Two of the most important things he wanted.) …
or the aching of this life…(My body LITERALLY aches from grief…it feels exactly like the flu.)
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy…(…the longing for God’s perfect kingdom.)
What if trials of this life…(…seeing the pain of my amazing husband, and beautiful daughters, Jordan’s friends, and other loved ones..)
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights…(…the SUICIDE of my precious boy…)
…are your mercies in disguise?
HERE is my understanding of the last line…
…All of these things have brought me to a level of truly KNOWING God in a very real, and SUPERNATURAL way. Now I “know Him, and SHARE in the FELLOWSHIP of His SUFFERING.”
THAT’s God’s mercy in disguise…closeness with the God of the universe.