imagined conversation

When Joey came to our Joni and Friends Family Retreat, people were just drawn to him.  He had this  inexplicable joy, a quick and frequent smile, a deep and understanding heart.  He came into our lives for a very short time and we feel so very blessed for ever knowing him.  Joey passed away just two months after his family attended our camp.  He was only 13.  Often, when we meet someone like that, and then, they are taken to their eternal home,  we wonder what God’s purpose is and we ask Him if they shouldn’t have been here with us longer, but perhaps because their time is short, the Lord uses them to touch our lives in a very profound way.

While thinking about Joey one day, I imagined a conversation taking place between our Heavenly Father and his precious Joey in the days previous to his birth. It went something like this:

Taking the tiny chin in his big, protective palm, God looked into the purity and innocence of the face before him.

“Joey, I want to talk to you about this plan I have for your life.  You’re not going to be born into a typical family.  Your birth mother will not be able to raise you and you will be placed into a foster home.  But I am doing this because I’ll be preparing a very special family for you, one who will soon be ready.  I have chosen you to stretch their hearts and stretch their home.  By the time you come to them, they will be ready to love you and care for you as they do their very own and very shortly after that, they will open their hearts and lives to others who need a forever family too.

“Then, one day, I’m going to take you all to this amazing camp where you will deeply affect the life of a young man named Clay.  I want to change Clay’s heart.  I want to open his eyes to see the needs and gifts of my other precious children like you.  I have a very special plan for Clay’s life and I’m going to begin to prepare him for it through you.

“And it will just so happen, that at this camp, I will have Joni’s photographer there, her videographer, and her writer.  They will interview the two of you.  Your story will be one so special that it will deeply move their hearts even though they have done this many times before.  Your smile will touch everyone around you.  They will look at the bond that I create between you and Clay and know that what I have given to the two of you is very unique.  Your story will then be put into Joni’s Newsletter.  It will go out to touch thousands across this nation and it will even go on to touch many lives throughout the world.

Just a few months later, your sister will  travel all the way  to Thailand with your very own wheelchair.  She will search for several days and then, I will bring her just the right person that I have chosen to receive it.  There is a young woman who needs your wheelchair because her chair is so old that  it can hardly move, but more importantly, she also needs to know my love.  Jasmine will give her your chair and share with her this story and it will be because of you that she will come to know my love and many others will come to know me as well.”

God could see the excitement building in Joey’s eyes.  But then, his tone grew very serious, “Joey, there is a catch to all of this.  Your body won’t be the same as other kids, you won’t be able to use your legs, and your health isn’t going to be very strong.  You are also going to have to spend a lot of time in hospitals but the thing is, even the doctors and nurses there will be touched by your life because you will reflect me and they will grow to love you and care for you in a way that will deepen their love for others.

“If you are ready for this task, Joey, I can use you to touch the lives of your family, teaching them of the greatness of my love, and they will learn to reach out and touch so many more.  I in turn, will teach them more about my faithfulness.  I can use you through this disability  to touch everyone within Joni and Friends, reassuring them that what they are doing is impacting many lives and that they are being obedient to what I have called them to do.  Through your disability, I will use your life to touch your mom and dad, your brothers and sisters, Clay and everyone who comes to know you, in a way that could not be achieved through anything or anyone else but you.  People will learn to look past the disability to see the abilities that I have given you.

“There’s one more thing, Joey.”  God said, Joey’s eyes had grown a bit moist but looking right into the face of his Father, he listened intently, “I’m going to have to bring you back home after just a very short time.  I’ll bring you back to this place where I will wipe away your every tear.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.  You will dance and leap and run!  And in the twinkling of an eye, your family and all of those precious friends that you will make, will join us here in heaven too.”

The smile returned to Joey’s innocent face.

“What do you think, Joey, are you up for it?”

Without hesitation, without further thought, without considering what he would have to lose, only thinking of what others might gain, Joey nodded his head in quick agreement,

“Yes, I think I am.”



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  1. dnkjelr2 says:

    joey, like a brother to me; boy did he have that light and joy like no other. that story is awesome, that is exactually what he would say and do.

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