Without taking my eyes off the screen, I turned my face to the side and took another sip of coffee while refreshing Boundless.org for the 10th time. It was every Thursday morning of my undergrad sophomore year in 2004. I was waiting for that week’s three new articles to be uploaded to the site and was hoping for more wisdom from Boundless co-founder Steve Watters; his wife, Candice; and their team to help me test and approve God’s will for my life. Chris Tomlin had just released some new song called “How Great is Our God,” Napoleon Dynamite had only a cult following, and I was one of the first few thousand members of a burgeoning MySpace competitor that was exclusively for college students. Its URL was “www.thefacebook.com.”
Boundless was massively influential on me during a phase of life that was permeated with formative life decisions, and I thank the Boundless team immensely for their faithfulness. I remember the launch of the “Define the Relationship” assessment. It was the first of its kind. When it was fashionable to give vague and ethereal advice (as a means of escaping accountability), the DTR dared to give concrete, pragmatic, nuts-and-bolts wisdom, and it is still offered at Boundless today. The term “pulling a Ruth” became a part of our vocabulary in my church’s college ministry, the interview with Joel C. Rosenberg inspired me to become an author, and part 7 of Scott Croft’s Biblical dating series, “From ‘Hi’ to ‘I do’ in a Year,” was released precisely one year before my wedding day. I read it Oct. 18, 2007; asked this crazy hardcore missionary chick on a very intentional date five days later (whilst sporting a righteous mohawk); proposed six months into our well-defined relationship; and married her Oct. 18, 2008. Providentially, I went engagement ring shopping on my first attempted jewelry store’s annual one-day diamond sale. Today, my bride and I are ecstatically married and have had four baby boys in just six years. Her second pregnancy was with our twin boys, Asher and Aiden. The exact moment we stepped out of the building after seeing the ultrasound that revealed we were having twins, a skywriter finished writing “Thank You, Jesus” in perfect alignment with our perspective in the sky directly over our heads. We have had four baby boys, but only three of them are still with us.
My wife is my gold refined by fire — the fires of trauma and bereavement. Aiden died after three months of miracles, anguish, elation, knee-scraping prayer, and ground-breaking medicine. He was born without a trachea and breathed through a small fistula that connected his esophagus to his bronchi. We felt the clear conviction to forego our prerogative to privacy and to open our story up like a book so that people all over the world could be a part of it through prayer. The act of praying for Aiden filled people with faith including many of my (now formerly) atheist friends. It brought one older couple back from the very brink of mutual suicide, and it brought life-saving wisdom to an international convention of surgeons. It brought revival to our church, and it brought me into a new season of ministry. Now, I’m the guy you call when someone’s child dies. I simultaneously love and hate that. Looking back in the years that preceded it all, I can now recognize the unseen hand of God readying my heart for the furnace. In 2007, John Thomas wrote an article answering a question I emailed to Boundless. That article about God’s sovereignty and the womb prepared my heart for what it would face when Asher and Aiden were born. Aiden’s story is available in greater detail here on my website.
My fellow Boundless readers from the Oughts decade, I hope you have been well. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities God has given me, and I give Him all glory for the fruit of my ministry so far. Entirely by God’s grace, I have written three books for B&H of LifeWay, have spoken around the world, and have been a pastor to thousands of amazing people. God began preparing me for it all back in my college dorm room where I read Boundless every Thursday morning as a percussion performance major. Boundless team, do not grow weary in doing good because we as your readers know for certain that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Now, I’m stepping into my 30s, a Ph.D., my new position as an curriculum writer, and another book: it’s titled Praying for Aiden.
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