My first exposure to Nathan was in the summer of 2006, when his family began attending our church. It wasn’t just the wonderful red hair, or the blue eyes, or even his smile that captured my heart. It was something much deeper than that, though I didn’t understand at the time. Nathan was a treasure in a not-yet-five-year-old body because of Whose he was. He was my brother, but I came to know he wasn’t my “little” brother at all.
It was only when a new baby had been added, and Nathan’s physical problems had gotten much more severe that the Lord opened the door for me to be more involved with his family. I was privileged to spend much time with them over the course of the next year – time that produced much fruit in my own life, not just theirs. Though Nathan couldn’t talk to me, I learned so much about him from his mother and all the pictures with their great stories. Nathan playing golf. Nathan all dressed up for church services. Nathan asking Jesus into his heart. Nathan playing baseball. Nathan smiling in the hospital. Nathan praying for others. Nathan giving to those who had nothing. Nathan worshiping and praising the Lord and trusting Him and His Word. Nathan quietly listening to all the preaching and teaching and acting on what he heard.
Before I would go spend the day at Nathan’s house, I often prayed and asked the Lord how He would have me pray for or over Nathan that day. Usually, He was very specific about different parts of his body to pray over. One morning, however, He surprised me by saying He didn’t want me to pray for Nathan, but with him. Since Nathan wasn’t able to communicate at all at this point, I wondered how this would work, but I followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. I sat down by Nathan’s side and told him what the Lord had directed – that I wouldn’t be leading the prayer, but that I would let my spirit hook up with his, and we would be hooked up with the Holy Spirit. Then I took hold of his hand and rejoiced to find his fingers and thumb curling lightly around mine.
Jesus told us to come to Him as a little child, but I really didn’t grasp what that meant until I prayed with Nathan that day. What simplicity there is to be in prayer. What Nathan had been experiencing when he couldn’t communicate with us was constant communication with the Father – unbroken. The moment we connected hands, my spirit was connected with Nathan’s, and we were immediately in the Presence of the Lord. It wasn’t because he knew the Bible backwards and forwards, but because he knew Jesus. Nathan remained a child in heart, trusting and resting in His Savior, no matter what happened in his physical body, but he was growing into such a mighty man in the Spirit – far-surpassing me, yet encouraging me to come up higher, too.
When the day came that his body finally quit, Nathan decided to stay with Jesus, forever unhindered by his physical body, and continued revealing more of our Father’s love. Yes, He sent His Comforter for all of the family and friends left here. It was bigger than that, though. Because of God’s amazing love, He will not override our wills. He wants us to know Him and love Him because we choose to – not because we have to – and it carries over to all our other decisions, as well. That’s the plan He set up from the beginning, and He didn’t change it, no matter how many of us stood in faith, believing for the miracle of resurrection. God didn’t lack the power to bring Nathan back, nor did we lack the faith for it. No, Nathan’s will was to stay with Jesus in heaven, and God honored that, just like He honors ours. I believe it probably went something like this: God asked Nathan if he wanted to stay here with Jesus or return to his family on earth. After thinking a moment, in that precious voice of his he said, “I think I’ll stay.” It was settled, and Nathan was forever free.
As we celebrate the completion of the first year of Nathan’s total freedom in Christ, we pay tribute* to his life on this earth, and the lasting tribute to the Lord he left with us. Nathan was truly effective and of great worth in his life, even in his death, which brings tribute to his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Nathan Tyler Dawson
August 11, 2001 – February 18, 2008
1 Corinthians 15:53-55 (AMP) “53 For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us, this nature that is capable of dying] must put on immortality (freedom from death). 54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
* tribute – proof of the worth or effectiveness of the one in question