Sixteen Candles


I was the second person to ever gaze upon my son Jon Alex.

The doctor let me assist in the final seconds of his birth, and I still remember watching in wonder as this 7.7lb 19inch little boy entered the world.

I say I was second because while he was still in his mother’s womb, his Creator knit him together. God’s eyes saw his unformed body. That same God who spoke stars into creation, that same God who created everything out of nothing- that was the same God who wove Jon Alex together and gazed upon his form in that secret place while He created his innermost being.

And then moments before Jon Alex entered this world and my arms, God opened His book, ordained all the days of Jon Alex’s life, and wrote them down before one of them came to pass.

And in that book, He wrote of a sacred purpose and a plan known only to God Himself.  Then He gently whispered “My son, always remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, for all my works are wonderful.” He breathed life into my little boy, and Jon Alex opened his eyes and entered this world.

What I didn’t know then, but have come to realize over the past 16 years, is that God had given me…His Self.

Now it’s Jon Alex’s 16th birthday.

The world sees a non-verbal young man crippled by cerebral palsy, challenged cognitively, and affected by autism. The world sees a boy who cannot talk, cannot walk, and cannot function independently.

I don’t see that.

I see a beautiful masterpiece.

I see a tapestry of God’s grace, God’s beauty, and God’s love woven together on a human canvas.

The world sees paint on damp plaster.

I see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. 

The world sees a broken vessel.

I see Michelangelo’s  “David.”

For God takes broken vessels and He uses them to make beautiful things from which He reveals Himself to us.

God has used my son to teach me the essence of unconditional love. God has used my son to show me how to embrace my own brokenness and accept my vulnerabilities. I have finally understood grace, and in doing so, I have tried to become as good at giving it as I am at accepting it.

I have learned that I am completely dependent upon God for all things, unable to do anything without Him.

And I finally realize I will not find contentment, purpose, or joy without Him.

He has taught me that I don’t have to understand God completely to obey God fully.

He has taught me that He really does have a plan and a purpose for everything and everyone, but I may not ever know or realize what it is.

He has used our son to teach us to revel in the simple things, find pleasure with a few things, and hope in all things.

And God has shown Himself to me and demonstrated the essence of our own Father and son relationship through my experiences as a dad to my own son.

Our life is been excruciating difficult at times. We have suffered and been though more challenges than we could have ever anticipated or imagined. We have cried oceans of tears and battled the deep waves of anguish. We have ached in our despair, and wallowed in the dark pit of hopelessness.

We have wandered among the stalagmites in the cave of autism, looking for a source of light, and we have wrestled and become entangled in the snares of cerebral palsy.

We have questioned God, doubted God, and pleaded with God.

And from all that, today we stand in knowledge of one simple truth.

God is good.

All the time.

When we hurt….God is good.

When we doubt…God is good.

When we don’t understand…God is good.

And when we cling to that which we cannot see…God is good.

All the time, God is good.

God makes beautiful things out of broken vessels.

God creates nothing but masterpieces.

I have this beautiful son with a contagious smile and an infectious ability to bring joy and light to everyone around him. I have this living picture of how God uses the ordinary for the extraordinary. I have this breathing temple of God in my own house- the sanctuary where I see the presence of God.

I have a masterpiece.

Happy birthday Jon Alex.

You are my masterpiece.