Not Sure About Jesus? Meet Tyler...

Today, we have officially hit the 4-week mark with Tyler still not ready to come home. My wife and I are trading off living in an ICU room with our son and it is wearing on everyone. Most of you know that our family deeply loves Jesus. But many of you that I love…don’t share our convictions. Make no mistake about it: I love you because I love you…end of sentence. Whatever you choose to do or not do with Jesus will not change my affection for you. With that being said, I would like to offer up my son’s life as an apologetic for so much of what I believe.

Tyler Allen Coleman has spent the entirety of his life in a body that betrays him, unsuitable to rightly sustain him in this world. These last four weeks my wife and I have cleaned him, helped him breathe, fed him, medicated him, comforted him, and advocated for him.  All things he is unable to do himself, as he and his body are so fragile. The Bible uses the metaphor of a “tent” for our body, describing it this way:

“…𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲…𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐧, 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐝𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠…” (𝟐 𝐂𝐨𝐫. 𝟒/𝟓)

If you’ve ever been camping, you know that a tent is meant to be temporary. It, too, is fragile. Some tents are better than others at handling the harsh conditions of the environment, but none are meant to be permanent. For example, let's say you go camping for the weekend and your tent fails. For some, they might consider that a wasted weekend, especially if it rains. But for those whose tents did not fail, they were free to stay more long and enjoy more full. They just got lucky, I guess. Right?

Without Jesus…Tyler’s life is a waste. His tent failed him. He received the short end of a very unlucky stick, if you will.  In this world, his life is wasted when juxtaposed against others who get to live longer, fuller lives (that's true for all of us, actually). No other conclusion can be reached if we are being intellectually honest. To put it bluntly, there is how his life should have gone and how it actually went. Sorry Tyler, that’s how the chips fell for you. And unlike ruining an incidental weekend camping, there is no the distress is exponentially greater.

But what if….

What if that’s not true? Not in a way divorced from substance…but in a real, weighty sense (2 Cor. 4:17). My love for Jesus doesn’t allow me to see Tyler’s life as a waste. Instead, the Bible assures me his life is worthy of dignity, meaning, and value in the sight of God. Jesus is the reason that everything “wasting away” can look forward to a “heavenly” redemption. In a Kingdom economy, Tyler’s life is not tragic.  Quite the contrary, in a Kingdom economy:

“𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐞 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐆𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝, 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞.” (𝐑𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝟖:𝟐𝟖)

Did you catch that? All things? Yes, all things! Hard things! Painful things! Seemingly wasted things! This includes your hard, painful, and seemingly wasted things! Jesus has given all things redemptive capacity. Tyler’s life can matter here and now because of the “heavenly” implications. Perhaps some of those implications are happening in your heart right now as you read this. God is doing that. He is using Tyler’s condition to do it. Tyler’s life is having real meaning, in this moment, because you’re reading this. Jesus gives meaning and dignity to the lives of people like Tyler Coleman, Ryan Sweeney, Quinn Bartrug, and Mike Saitta. They groan in these tents for a little while and, as they do, their lives point to something more permanent and heavenly. Even though their tents failed them much too soon, their lives are not wasted. Nor is their redemptive capacity of their suffering diminished. Isn't this good news? Someone should call it that. 😏

“𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐨𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐞, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫. 𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐨𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐲. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐭𝐡. ” (𝟏 𝐂𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝟏𝟓:𝟒𝟐-𝟒𝟑)

Thank Jesus for this…