Jul 4, 2007

A testimony

I gave a testimony to the kids at youth camp of how God has helped us through this difficult experience. I hope it encourages you. Steve

On Saturday, September 30, 2006, I got the worst phone call of my life. Actually, it was a phone message and not a live person. The caller identified themselves as a social worker at UPMC Presbyterian and said, “Ian Scott Murphy was in a very serious car accident. He’s currently in surgery, and it would be good for relatives to be down here. Please call…”

For a brief period following that phone call fear took hold. But, remarkably, that was the only time I’ve really been able to identify fear in my heart over the last 8 months since the accident. I know myself; no one could convince me that the peace I’ve experienced is anything but the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s transforming grace and the work of His sustaining grace. Over the years as a believer, fear and anxiety have been regular visitors, frequently overstaying their welcome. Don’t misunderstand. They have certainly been a temptation, and grief and weariness have taken turns standing on my chest.

Two days after the accident things looked grim. His brain functions were dying; at one point Ian’s body had failed 3 of the 5 tests for brain death. The doctors had suggested he had hours or perhaps days to live, so we signed the organ donor papers and called a funeral home. But, we were at peace with him going home to be with Christ.

The next day, a doctor we had never met appeared in his scrubs in the waiting room where we were waiting for the news of Ian’s departure into heaven. Unbelievably, this doctor told us that Ian seemed to have gotten over the hump. I said, “I didn’t even know there was a hump for him to get over.” It was so unbelievable we even questioned his credentials – out loud – and he was the medical director for the ICU!

So began a journey down a long, difficult road filled with treacherous twists and turns in Ian’s condition, a fog of grim opinions by the medical staff, and the sounds of our own temptations to fear and unbelief. Scripture says that His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The lamps the writers had in mind were oil lamps that literally only lit the few feet in front of them. I found that I had to just focus on the next step in front of me, even the next moment. Every day, it seems, I’ve prayed at some point during the day, “Lord, what do you want me to do next?”

Throughout this journey, I’ve recalled with gratitude so many examples of Ian’s faith and character and of our growing friendship. We’d had so many conversations about sin in his life and in mine and about the kindness of God; I’ve been so grateful for the times of genuine, biblical fellowship. I’ll never forget how grateful I felt when Ian came to me to ask me if I thought he was ready to pursue a relationship with a girl. He had someone in mind, and he came to me before he had approached her about his interest. When I asked why he was interested in this girl (whom I didn’t know), I was grateful to hear woven through his answer how important spiritual conviction and character was to him. Since the accident, I’ve gotten to know even more about Ian’s commitment to Christ as I’ve heard Larissa recount remarks he’d made to her and as I’ve observed her faith and character.

My relationship with Ian wasn’t always so good. Years ago, he wasn’t in a good place spiritually, and there were areas in my parenting where I was negligent. As a result, our relationship wasn’t as strong as it needed to be. There were many times when there was tension between us. I remember the night here at youth camp, though, when Ian came to me after a meeting filled with guilt over his many sins, and I knew the Holy Spirit was at work in his heart. The months and years that followed weren’t smooth sailing, but it was clear that the Holy Spirit was wrestling with him. Eventually, his repentance was genuine and thorough and so was mine. Gradually, as we talked a lot, things improved between us, and following the accident I felt the impact of that progress. I’ve been so grateful.

The biggest surprise on this journey has been the impact of the blog on the lives of so many people. In the beginning, almost 1,000 people a day visited the site. For decades, we’ve prayed for the salvation of so many people or just for opportunities to share the gospel, and the blog has opened up doors. So many who are unsaved have heard the message of the gospel. My son, Ben, said Ian might even have volunteered for this assignment if he had known how it would impact people.

This has been without question the hardest thing we’ve ever experienced. But, I believe the Lord will be faithful again just as he has been so many times in our lives. I believe he will show himself strong and God will be glorified.

Pray for Ian.


Anonymous said...

Thanks just doesn't seem like enough to convey how your revealing of your heart blesses me. I read what you had to say hungrily, relating to everything you shared. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, but my heart (I hope in grace) will choose to say, blessed be the name of the Lord. Your heart has encouraged mine this evening.

Anonymous said...

You are right about reaching so many through this blog. I was given this link through a friend. I do not know your family or Ian. However, I am encouraged often by your strong faith. And often challenged by it.

Praying for Ian. And praying for your family.

Thank you Ian.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Steve!
God bless you, my friend, for sharing your testimony with us "oldsters" who weren't at "youth" camp!
You are so transparent about your shortcomings. How it glorifies God for you to point to Him as the One who is transforming you and Ian into His Son's image!

Still Praying!

Mary Ann K.

Tim said...

Steve - Once again, you have blessed me. TimK, Wellspring Church, San Leandro, CA

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve for expressing your heart. I read the blog every day and Ian is in my prayers, as are all of you. May God bless you and be with you through all of this. I know He will.

Anonymous said...

Steve, as the tears continue through the joy of the Lord in these hard times, I continue to reflect from the day I got the call until now. I remember discussing with you a long time ago about suffering. Thank you for continuing to remind us all, to remember that the suffering cannot be compared to the glory to be revealed. With you daily, at the feet of our LOVING Father, Eileen

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this Steve.

What an excellent testimony of God's unfailing grace.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct in how impacted people's lives are as a result of this blog...which is a direct result of Ian's accident. Every morning I check the blog for anything new; at night, when I come home, again, I check to read the updates, etc. I am always, always blessed and encouraged in more ways than I'm able to adequately articulate right here. You may never, ever know this side of heaven, what has happened in the lives and hearts of those who read this blog, of those who have become acquainted with Ian and all of you as a result of this tragic accident. But surely, all of you--and all of us--will definitely resound that God has caused all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Lord is taking this horrific event and transforming it into a beautiful trophy of His grace. Continue to be encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, and please continue to post these wonderful, Spirit-saturated posts. To GOD BE ALL THE GLORY!

Praying with and for you all,
The Morris Family in Columbus, GA

Emmie said...

Your blog is a joy and encouragement to me. As a grandmother of an Ian, I was drawn to this blog. I am praying for you and your loved ones. Thank you for sharing the journey. May Jesus Christ be praised! Yours and His,
Emmie in Central Texas

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your testimony and your heart. This blog truly is a regular encouragement and challenge to me and I praise God for how He is sustaining Ian and all who care about him throughout the days of this journey. Thank you for your faithfulness to Jesus. I know you all will reap beautiful rewards. God bless you. You continue to be in my prayers. Darci in Ft. Myers, FL

MikeQ said...

Thanks for being open about the rocky times in the relationship between you and Ian. I'm encouraged that you both were able to improve it with the help of the Holy Spirit.