"Wrestling with an Angel" The Book

Wrestling with an Angel is also a book endorsed by Joni Eareckson Tada, Noel Piper, Russell Moore and others. It is available in print, audiobook, and a variety of ebook formats. Learn more about the book here.

Monday, May 31, 2010

"Pay attention...something eternally beautiful is going on here".

This afternoon I was sitting on the Mall parking lot in my police cruiser taking a lunch break and meditating on a book entitled, “Radical”, wishing someone would have warned me beforehand about the dangers of reading a work like this.

David Platt’s writing drives a stake right through the heart of the cultural Christianity that America has created to satisfy their comforts and soothe their convictions. It is a wonderfully dangerous book.

From first few pages, I bonded with the author’s passion and heartache of how we have been lulled to spiritual sleep by the “good life” of the American dream while leaving behind the mission of our Master, devaluing the cost of our salvation, and losing the wild, untamed risk of our faith.

“I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.” He writes.

Feeling a bit guilty, I stopped reading for a just a moment and glanced above my book for personal reflection, while simultaneously scanning the Mall parking lot for impending trouble like a faithful sheep dog.

About 30 yards to my right I noticed a middle-aged man exit a silver minivan and then walk to the rear and lift the trunk lid. He strained to pull out a small wheel chair, sat it on the ground and opened it for use, locking the wheels in place with the safety brakes.

He then walked around the van to the passenger side sliding door, opened it and disappeared up to his waist inside the vehicle for just a few moments. As he maneuvered his upper body back out of the doorway, attached to him was a small, frail looking boy, probably 8 or 9 years old who moved in jerky, floppy motion, like a marionette with the strings cut off.

The man, who I assumed was the boy’s father, carried the child to the rear of the van, placed him in the wheelchair and strapped him in for better control. He then wiped the sweat from his brow and unlocked the safety brakes from the chair. The child’s arms and legs began to flail wildly, either in the excitement of the moment or from the cerebral palsy he was obviously afflicted with—or maybe both.

I watched as the weary looking dad then shut the van doors and pushed the wheelchair carrying his son across the hot asphalt parking lot disappearing into the front entrance of the Mall.

For obvious reasons, I am very sensitive to scenes like this. I am also very sensitive to the possibility that God sets me in certain strategic places and then opens my eyes to observe things that most people don’t get to see.

An inaudible whisper often comes with these divine glimpses, “Pay attention…there is something eternally beautiful going on here, much more than you could imagine, and I’m inviting you to be a part of it.”

I’m not sure what David Platt’s book has to do with what I observed, perhaps nothing—or maybe everything.

Most of us feel something when we see the plights of an average family struggling with the challenges of raising a disabled child. Some of us feel pity, while others feel sympathy. Still others sense some kind of thankfulness as they place into perspective the smallness of the problems in their own lives.

I also experience those thoughts, along with the empathy that comes from the bond of being a fellow parent with a disabled child. But more than that, I feel the strong desire to act. I want to offer assistance, give advice, share some encouragement, or pray for specific needs.

Sometimes I feel the overwhelming desire to simply place a hand on a shoulder and say, “I know how tired you are, hang in there. God is faithful and there is so much more going on within your circumstances than you can see right now.”

Being in a police uniform and carrying a gun typically stops me from acting in any of those capacities unless prompted by dangerous circumstances or a divine appointment. It does happen, but usually in an obscure moment with little or no follow up.

But as I sit on the parking lot today, I find myself in a different season of life than the father I just observed. My son is now grown and gone, being cared for by others in a way that I can no longer care for him. My life, once very radical, is now very comfortable.

This is a good place to be—for a season. It is a very dangerous place to be—for a lifetime.

I have enjoyed the rest and peace and shift in priorities in my life, but I don’t want to be lulled to sleep by them. Our family has never been a “normal” family. And now we have the chance to live this American dream to the fullest and do all the things “normal” families do. It’s tempting.

At the same time, we also have an amazing opportunity to live radically once again, impacting the lives of many through the grace of God given to us in such a steady supply over these years.

Raising Jake has been an adventure. It has also been an education—a training ground for ministry. God has spent this time equipping us for something great. I will not waste it on comfort and ease while so many around me continue to struggle in desperation and despair.

I suppose this is where my blog and my life take a different turn, perhaps not so much “different” as “evolutionary” or even “revolutionary”.

I hope that you, the reader, will continue to follow this adventure. There is a book coming soon, Lord willing, that will expand on the blog stories of raising Jake and the lessons of grace gleaned from his life. I desire that it will honor the gospel, glorify God and magnify Christ.

I also pray that the book will serve to extend the message of hope and grace to the many hurting families struggling through disability, as well as those who are simply struggling with life and hopelessness. God’s grace is sufficient for all things, and in great weakness there is found great strength from a great Savior. This is the true message of the book, and this is the true hope for all our disabilities.

The blog itself will begin to take on a new role as I attempt to tell the stories of grace in the lives of so many others who wrestle with angels of their own. God’s grace is all around us, waiting to be unveiled and marveled at in the celestial circumstances of life.

At first these accounts may seem few and far in between since I have now obligated most of my free time to complete this book. But I will stay faithful to the prompting of the Lord and I will be observant to what He is doing in and through the lives around me.

I anticipate my calling as a police officer will continue to serve as a window of opportunity to both see and record these adventures of grace.

Thank you for your many comments of encouragement and hope, as well as your petitions and prayers. I don’t respond to all of them in writing, but I assure you that I respond to each of them with praise and thanksgiving to my Father. You will never know the incredible strength that is given to my family on a daily basis through these simple, yet profound words and prayers.

Now follow me as I follow Christ on this untamed, radical journey of grace. There will be many divine appointments along the way. Pay close attention to the eternal beauty of what He is doing. There is so much more going on than you could ever imagine…and He’s inviting you to be a part of it all.


  1. A book! That's wonderful. Put me down for a few copies! I would love to have your wisdom along with me, at my fingertips, as I flounder.

    Continuing blessings to you.

  2. Looking forward to hearing more from you (whether in book or blog form) about what God is showing you. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Excited that you are writing a book on what God has done and continue to do and teach you! Thanks for the reminder today to pay attention to the eternal beauty of what He is doing in a thousand ways around me each day.

    I will be praying as you write.

  4. Wow. I am very convicted by your clear-eyed desire to avoid the dangers of too much comfort. I confess, I'm not as far along on that road as you seem to be. But in His own way, God is nudging me in the same direction. I will keep reading whenever you post, and I look forward to the book!

  5. "Pay attention..."

    Good heavenly advice. Thanks for the reminder.

    AND...I'm happy to hear a book is forthcoming.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this. I have plunged pretty deeply into sin all for the sake of my personal comfort and to the detriment of my family. I am shaken. You provide a glimpse of a deeper reality infused with the Fathers care. Please pray.

  7. We carry a lumpy purple adult wheelchair, really a big stroller, with us in our Plymouth Voyager for when long walking spells are in the plan for our 12-year old daughter. She doesn't flail in glee - or anger - as much anymore; She just sits peacefully and joyfully, because she gets with the program. She gets it. And it's just part of what we do.....as we all head into the Penneys at the nearby Outlet Mall.

    Grateful for your posts. Can't wait for the book.

  8. I can think of no other book that I would want to read more than yours. Your insights and Biblical perspective touch my heart every time you write. Thanks so much for sharing with the world your life and perspective...you are telling my families story as well.

  9. A sweet friend sent me a link to your blog and I am so thankful! What a comfort to read your words (I've read all of them on this blog), and glean from one that has walked this road for 15 more years than we have- so much of it was familiar, the joy, the hard, the tired. I too look forward to any more posts and book!

    We are the proud parents of 6, the youngest adopted from Ethiopia has many special needs.

    I have also just finished Radical...........still processing it. :)

  10. I just wanted to tell you that you are an amazing writer!! I am an occupational therapist and work with children with special needs and they put a huge smile on my face and in my heart. I am not a religious person and still I could not stop reading your posts. Keep up the good work :)

  11. Thank you. This should all be put into a book and handed to every parent. It is real, it is life and it is beautiful. Thank you!

  12. i would buy your book in an instance
    your blog has helped me in so many ways and given me much wisdom that i would have never learned if i hadn't stumbled upon it through tim challie's blog. a source of much encouragement, wisdom, and glory to God.

  13. I read your words, and I just cry. Thank you so much for writing the words that are in my heart and mind. As a fellow parent of a special needs child, thank you so much for writing. I have your blog up on my bar and visit it often to see if you have written something new. I am also an occupational therapist that works with the elderly, and my experiences with our medically fragile child with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus have deepened my experiences in a way that nothing else could.
    God bless you for your humility and openness.
    Kathleen Froess

  14. I am also in the process of reading "Radical." I looked into buying numerous copies- it is definitely a book I will want to share with others. Speaking of books I will want to share with others - when are you thinking yours will be available. I consider it an honor to call you my friend. I am moved by your words...I always have been. Stay Revolutionary!


  15. Great thought brother. "Pay attention there is something eternally beautiful going on here." I cannot tell you how many divine appointments have happened since God gave us Ana and opened our eyes to the eternally beautiful things. He is giving us opportunities. How great is it that you are police officer and can be that type of grace to people who need "protection" of that type. God is giving you an eternally beautiful job to do whenever those moments happen. Do not worry that there is not many times much follow up. God is giving those people that you come in contact with a moment of Grace. I am really excited for you and your new phase of Grace that you are entering. I would also look forward with great anticipation a book written from this new place. Blessings

  16. I don't even know how I got or found your blog, but am so glad I did! You are a wonderful writer conveying the love of the Father in an easy to read, intimate manner. Thank you for putting it down so well...May God bless you as you finish your book...I'm a gramma in her sixties, very thankful that all our children and grandchildren are seemingly "whole" and healthy...But of course we pray they will all seek the Lord and find Him at the earliest moment. :o)