I first heard the term "the furious love of God" in one of Brennan Manning's books. It struck a chord in my soul. When most people think of the love of God, the image I believe they see most often is of a warm, gentle, tender, kind of love. Images of God's comfort and care are what most people see. It is why they struggle so when things don't go the way they would like. They want God's love to be a warm embrace; strong arms that will protect them from all hurt. Sometimes God's love is like that, but the greatest example of God's love was anything but sweet and gentle. When Jesus died on the Cross, it was the clearest picture of God's love for us we will ever see. It was a furious love and that is the love of God that Carla and I have experienced most of our marriage. Nothing has been easy. From the beginning, God has used the turmoil of life, especially the birth of our first born in 1985, to mold us into His trophies of grace. When God gave us Zach, He forced us into positions where we had no choice but to abandon ourselves to Him.Before Zach was born, Carla and I had dedicated him to God. We had been married for two years; I was serving in my first church as a youth pastor and Carla was a registered nurse. We had all the dreams young couples have as they are starting out. With the innocence of youth, we eagerly awaited the arrival of our first child.On September 18, 1985, Zachary King Morton came into the world. We were ecstatic. Our joy soon turned to fear though as the doctors told us they suspected Zach had pneumonia and needed to be transferred to another hospital. The fear that gripped us soon turned to despair when the doctor told us, "It's his heart." Zach was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. His heart had multiple defects, the most serious of which was the absence of the pulmonary artery to carry blood to his lungs. After two desperate surgeries in his first 18 months, Zach was alive, but he had a heart defect that needed correction and two lungs damaged by the surgeries. All of our dreams of a normal life were crushed. Nothing would ever be routine again. Our lives were filled with visits to the doctor and emergency room, endless treatments, huge medical bills, and very little hope that Zach would ever live a normal life. The doctors were not sure Zach would live at all. In spite of the obstacles he faced, Zach grew into an extraordinary young man with a deep love for God, his family and friends, for sports, and for life itself. Zach grew up in a close knit family surrounded by his two younger brothers, grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Zach's brother, Kemper, grew into the athlete Zach dreamed to be, but never experienced because of his physical limitations. Cole, Zach's youngest brother, shared a special bond with Zach as he, too, was born with a defective heart. Zach loved all sports. He hoped to be a coach someday since his frail body would not let him play the sports he so loved. Zach got his nickname, "Z-man," when he started calling a local radio talk show when he was 15. The radio show was live each week during football season. Zach called on a regular basis and they ended up dubbing him "Z-man" and getting his "upset special" of the week. The nickname stuck and he was affectionately called "Z-man" at school and across the community. For years, Zach defied the expectations of doctors who gave him little chance to live beyond the age of six without a corrective heart surgery. Despite visits to heart surgeons around the country, no one was willing to operate. "It's too risky" they told us. "Just enjoy the time you have left with him." In 2003, when Zach was 18, we were given our first ray of hope. Dr. Frank Hanley, a world renowned heart surgeon at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California, agreed to evaluate Zach as a candidate for corrective heart surgery. The surgery, if successful, would give Zach a pulmonary artery, provide blood flow to the lungs, and strengthen his weakened heart. Zach would finally have the chance to do some of the things he had dreamed of doing. Barring a miracle from God, this was Zach's last hope. Without surgery, Zach's heart would soon give out. Zach's life was an example of how God's furious love can produce something awesome. It was never easy. Zach went through pains and discomforts we will probably never know. And yet, it was those very struggles that made Zach the unique person he was. He lived life fully because he knew how fragile it can be. He was determined, I believe, to live every moment to the fullest, because he never knew what tomorrow would bring. It was the furious love of God that made Zach the vessel of love and grace that he was! As we were preparing for our trip to California, we were introduced to a website called CaringBridge that would allow us to stay connected with family and friends during the train trip to California, Zach's surgery, and his stay in the hospital. CaringBridge started in 1997 with one website to serve one family with a medical crisis. Since then, over 60,000 sites have been created in all fifty states and in fifteen countries around the world. Nine million messages of love, hope and support have been left in CaringBridge guest books. Zach's website, www.caringbridge.org/ga/zach, initially was meant for him, and us, to keep in touch and to hear from family and friends. But on December 5, 2003, after a successful surgery, Zach died and each posting became our journal of grief. For one year we shared our walk through the heart of grief. To our amazement we found that it was helpful to pour out our feelings onto a blank page. We did not have to talk or see anyone but we could share from the rawness of our hearts. It was a safe place to unload. The response was unbelievable. In the following pages we invite you to share in our journey of losing a son and yet, at the same time, experiencing God's Furious Love.
Number Of Pages: 170
Published: 1st October 2009
Publisher: Goose River Press
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 14.0 x 1.0
Weight (kg): 0.22