"Wrestling with an Angel" The Book

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Friday, October 28, 2011

How Will He Not Give Us All Things?

"He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

Thursday we made the 10 hour round trip visit to Romney to see our son, Jake. This time we surprised him at his school, Hampshire High School. He jumped up and down with his arms in the air and then hugged each of us for the longest time. His teacher, Mrs Sczabo, was so excited to show us everything they had been working on and Jake was so proud to display EVERYTHING he had learned.

We are truly thankful to God for this amazing teacher, the people of Romney, and the Potomac Center where Jake lives. He is so happy and progressing so far beyond all of our expectations.

As we walked the hallways of the high school with Jake, we were overwhelmed by the display of love and kindness towards our son. He is a very popular kid at this very typical high school. Every teacher we met, to include the vice principal, took the time to personally thank us for sharing Jake. "He is such a joy to be around," they told us.

We left the school with our excited son, who was just a little disheartened that he didn't get to ride the big yellow school bus that day (one of his top 10 favorite things to do in life), and carried out our usual strict routine of dinner at McDonalds and shopping at Walmart.

At McDonands, Jake walked up to almost every table in the dining room and greeted the patrons, shaking hands and giving high fives. His non-verbal display of happiness was met with warm smiles and surprisingly appropriate responses.

"He's never met a stranger." I tell them as I follow my son around the tables, keeping a safety grip on the back of his shoulder.

The people of Romney are so kind and patient with our son. Very few people stare in this small town where the two largest buildings are The Potomac Center for Disabled Children and The Romney School for the Deaf and Blind. Most openly embrace Jake as one of their "different" but friendly fellow townspeople.

Jake's true personality shines in this town. There are no outbursts of anger or emotional meltdowns. There is little frustration and no anxiety. The time we now spend with our son is a wonderful experience that bonds our family closer together each time we visit.

On our drive back to Jake's residence we passed by several old houses for sale in the surrounding area of Romney. "Maybe we should just move up here," I said quietly to my wife. "Maybe we should," she replied. "I could work at Walmart or McDonanlds," I half-joked. "Jake would love that."

The drive back to the Potomac Center residential home is usually very quiet and somber. Conversation is replaced with deep thoughts of mixed emotions.

Our strongest desire is to be close to our son, to care for him and to be an intricate part of his life, but he lives 250 miles away and because he is non-verbal, he can't even "talk" to us on the phone. Our involvement in his life is a trip to McDonalds and Walmart every couple months. It breaks our heart to live like this.

However, we are most blessed that our totally dependent, disabled son lives in a small town full of traditional people where he is well educated, well cared for, thriving socially, and loved by all. We could not ask more for Jake than what he has been given over these past three years.

But there will come a time (in about two years) when we will be forced to find a new place for Jake, possibly in some other far off town.

When he turns 21, his eligibility for the Potomac Center and the Hampshire County school system expires. He will never ride the big yellow school bus again. Our hearts absolutely break when we think about how difficult this time will be.

There are no facilities in the immediate area where we now live that are suitable for Jake's care. Even if there was, a move that far would mean a drastic shift in his structured routine. A new place, new facility, with new people, new rules means chaos and anxiety for our son.

All of this separation, heartbreak and uncertainty continually reminds us of of one thing--our desperate and absolute dependence on the One who cares for our son better than we could ever care for him ourselves.

God has proven one thing to us over and over again throughout Jake's life: He loves our son more than we could ever love our son. And what encourages us most is that God's amazing and continual love for this vulnerable boy is not only seen in the difficult life of our son, it is ultimately seen in gospel--the sacrificial death of God's Son.

Romans 8:32 is our promise that God's love and care for Jake will never fail.

As wonderful as Jake's current setting is, our hope is not in the Potomac Center, the Hampshire County school system, or the city of Romney. Neither is our hope in the circumstances of the future.

Our hope is in the gospel of the Father who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us. With this continually on our minds and in our hearts, we ask the comforting, rhetorical question, "...how will He not also, with him, graciously give us all things?"


  1. It's amazing how those same verses and those same truths about our Father have been the exact comfort to me in our journey of raising our son. We are just barely beginning (our son is 4), so it is a tremendous encouragement to see how the Lord has met you, met Jake all these years. I trust He will continue to do so...abundantly. Thank you for sharing and reminding us all of the Lord's great love for us and for our kids.

  2. Thanks Greg. I needed to hear this message of grace and God's unfailing love today. Our journey is so similar to yours in many ways, and every time I visit your blog, God meets me and reminds me that we are not alone in this journey. Blessings to you and your precious family. :)

  3. Thank you for your constant reminders of God's great care and providence! I will pray for Jake. Blessings!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story, and for the reminder of God's kindness and the Gospel at work in our lives.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. It encourages me that our son's life may not be what we expected or even wanted, but that the Lord's plan is perfect and His grace will be sufficient for us each day we are on this unexpected journey.

  6. Thank you for sharing your heart so transparently...that alone is something I struggle with in trusting the Lord.

    Your words are such an encouragement.

  7. I read your book this past summer and words fail me to describe how much your words and your family spoke to my heart. We have a special needs son as well as 3 "typical" daughters. Our son is 15yrs old and my life's greatest challenge. I am humbled beyond words by my son. He was given to us for His plan. It is incredbily comforting to read His word in your book and to be able to translate moments of His grace to our daily lives. Moments that are painful and trying yet also full of grace. Thank you so much for your honesty. Thank you for writing your book and this blog.

  8. Greg,

    I occasionally stop by to see what is going on with you, Jake and your family. Merry Christmas to you and yours, and thank you for sharing your story.

    "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

  9. I recieved your book as a Christmas gift and just finished reading it last night. It was a beautiful book. Thank you for being honest about your son, it was good to hear from someone who knows. Our son has down syndrome and apraxia of speech, so your chapter on asking God for your son to speak really hit home to me. The chapter on salvation for your son also touched me. That is something I think about daily. Do you have any good resourses or ideas for teaching our children about the bible and christianity? I'm having a hard time finding something that makes sense to him. He's 10 and is at a 4-6 year old level cognitively depending on the subject. Abstract things are very hard for him to understand. I'd appreciate any suggestions you have. Thanks again for a wonderful book and for following it up with a great blog!

  10. Thank you for posting so regularly. Your words give us strength to go on. In the sometime difficult exhausting times, God uses others words to encourage and uplift us. Yes, God is amazing! I was just talking to our Jason this morning and telling him how special he was. How thankful we are that God gave him to us to take care of us. I said, "Mommy is so lucky!" He said, "Mommy, lucky!" Thank-you God that in your wisdom so beyond our understanding, you chose us to be the parents of this special child!"