yler Roth shared this with me and I asked him to get permission so that I might share this with you. This was a message delivered by a man of great faith at the funeral for his grandson. It is a brazen testimony about the value of every human life. The author lives under the shadow of the cross. Because of our Lord's suffering and death on the cross we have hope and peace in the face of everything even when someone we love dies. Celebrate Elliot as you read his Grandfather's loving words of faith.
"I have the blessing of being Manda's daddy and thanks to the Lord, I began seeing myself as Taylor's father when they were married four years ago this coming June. I am one of 6 living grandfathers of little Elliot Andrew Bonnesen. I am privileged this morning to promote the value of Elliot's short life here on earth and to honor the suffering and pain that Manda and Taylor have endured, and will carry, and to lift up the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
I've had the honored position of watching Psalm 23 come to life, even though normally it is used to bring comfort only in times of death. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." I now see a different meaning in the powerful promises in this verse as I have seen the Good Shepherd guide and comfort Manda, Taylor, and Elliot, as they walked through this difficult valley. I have had the blessing of walking closely behind them through this difficult time; watching as The Lord led them through this valley. I would not have chosen this walk for them. I would think no earthly parent would choose this journey for their child. But I knew that our Heavenly Father had chosen Manda and Taylor, and Little Elliot, to bring purpose to our lives and to show us true joy that can only be displayed in the midst of pain.
Just as in the book of Genesis when little Benjamin was chosen by Joseph to carry the cup in his sack, foreshadowing the cup that Jesus would be given to drink from and suffer for the good of all mankind, Manda and Taylor's suffering was chosen by their heavenly father, for the good of us all. They received this difficult cup from their heavenly father's hand and made a decision that by His grace, no matter the outcome, this valley would not be traveled through in vain.
My initial attitude towards the Lord in regards to Elliot's diagnosis was somewhat like Peter's in the garden when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. As Peter pulled out his knife and tried to fight for what he wanted, the Lord asked Peter, "The cup that my father has given me, shall I not drink it?" I just wanted to help God along. To show Him the way that He should use this situation to bring glory to Himself. After all, 25 years earlier, He had chosen to hear and answer many prayers when Manda was diagnosed with terrible things in her mother's womb. So what a great story I thought He was writing of His healing power and love and grace. So, we prayed and believed that He was certainly able to heal Elliot. I quietly planned on Him doing so, but I also quietly feared, because I knew that He knew what was best, and that might not be what I
wanted, or what any of us would have wanted. From the beginning of Manda's life, the Lord has used her to change me. As I walked along near enough to know if she was just propping herself up on spiritual sounding cliches, it became very clear that she and Taylor both were truly okay with their heavenly father healing Elliot; or not. Like the Lord Jesus told the Father as he raised the cup to his mouth, "not my will but yours be done", I witnessed Manda and Taylor not just saying that, but living that. Their resolve to live for their Heavenly Father's will and to sacrifice their own was what allowed Psalm 112 to become the truth that it can be for us all, as it speaks of how those that trust in Him do not have to fear bad news because they confidently trust in Him to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly! I witnessed in them the truth of Psalm 34 speaking of the joy of those that take refuge in the Lord. Their joy became very real to all of us that walked closely along with Manda and Taylor.
Anyone close to their daily walk knows that I can not over exaggerate the misery that Manda endured daily while carrying Elliot. They of course did not have to choose to carry Elliot to full term but because Jesus did not have to leave His place in heaven and suffer in this world for them, Manda and Taylor chose to live their life in honor of Him and to make life possible for Elliot. They chose to enter the fellowship of His suffering, knowing that without a miracle, Elliot would be with Jesus. They made it possible for me to appreciate at a higher level than before, how the Lord Jesus suffered for us all so that we might receive eternal life through Him.
So the day of Elliot's birth drew near. I watched Manda and Taylor quietly prepare to bring little Elliot Andrew home with them. In the final days, I watched 1 Peter 1:13 be lived in real life as they girded up their minds while hoping in the grace that was brought in Jesus Christ.
Little Elliot had the Lord's tenacity as his little heart beat so strong through a long and trying delivery. The Lord chose for Manda and Taylor to have him for only a moment until he was brought into the presence of the Lord. Those of us that witnessed the next few hours will be forever changed. As we watched the love of our Savior glowing from Manda's face towards her little one and we saw our heavenly father's pain in Taylor as he sacrificed his son and was left only with the hope that God would be glorified. I will never forget their pain and suffering which gave me a clearer understanding of what my sin cost, to be paid for fully by our heavenly father sacrificing His Son for the good of us all.
In the following days, I witnessed the reality of the promise when the Good Shepherd said that He will be with us and He truly has been every step of the way. The outpouring of love and compassion that I witnessed toward Manda and Taylor has been a shower of grace and mercy from God. They have been encouraged, strengthened, and enabled by the Lord's presence and provision. God has proven to be to them everything He promises to be, because they put all their hope and trust in Him.
Matthew 18 records the words of Jesus and says that Jesus called a little child to Himself, set the child in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. So whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Trust is the foundation of any relationship. To be like a child is to trust like a child. To have made the choice to not need to understand "why" is the act of humility that allowed Manda and Taylor the peace and rest in their soul to inspire us all to be forever changed.
When the questioning ends and we just simply whisper, "I trust you Jesus", we can know that the Good Shepherd will take us by the hand and lead us through the valley that we find ourselves facing. His promises are for us all. Whatever you are facing today, please, place your trust in Jesus."