As a father and mother we never completely understood why God chose to send His son instead of coming himself. However, in June 2010 after losing our son Tony at the age of 35 we finally understood! Marilynn and I can truly say that losing a son and trusting in their resurrection is far harder than giving or losing our own life. There are few days that have gone by since the passing of Tony that we both do not think and ask the question, 'why was our son taken home versus us?' For those who have ever lost a child it often seems so unfair to lose a child before we as parents die. Even though the agony of losing our son is at times unbearable, we can now see and understand the faith that is required to believe, trust, and confess that our Son's life was chosen and given by God for a greater purpose. God has allowed his life to be lived both forward and backward for the Kingdom of God.
God's Word is true in John 3:16 when it states "For God so loved the world that He gave is one and only begotten son, that whosoever believesin him shall not perish but have everlasting life." In essence God is telling the world that His love was so great that He was willing to bear the greater pain and sacrifice by giving His only son so that the world would have an opportunity to be saved; so God is asking 'Why Not Choose Jesus' to have eternal life.
Our Son Tony recommitted his life and chose Jesus in 1996 while attending a revival service in Pensacola FL.
Between that time and Tony's own death and resurrection, He spent his life sharing his favorite question to everyone who needed hope. That question was 'Why Not Jesus?' Tony was blessed to lead many people into a personal response of accepting Jesus, by asking the simple question. In reflection, we can see that Tony tried to replicate Christ in so many ways and means by keeping God's message simple when witnessing to the needs of people who tried everything but Jesus by simply and confidently asking 'Why Not Jesus?'
As we now look back we are able to clearly see so many similarities to the life of Christ that Tony tried to emulate and reflect. We desire all readers to take these words we are sharing and examine their own life to see many of God's miracles for those who desire to reflect the image of Christ; after all we were created in the image of Christ/God! As you read the similarities below, please be reminded that God knew each of us before we were in our Mother's womb. (Jeremiah 1:5)
- The name Tony (Anthony) means worthy of praise and priceless. Tony's life was truly priceless. Much like Christ's life, which was classified as priceless, Tony's life became priceless as he shared 'Y-Not-Jesus.' (1: Peter 2:6)
- Tony's life of ministry during his illness miraculously lasted three years. During these three years there were healings, miracles, and a true witness toward the Kingdom of God that was being prepared for him.
- Tony was healed three times during this three-year period of special ministry. In essence he asked God three times for the cup of death to pass from Him; yet came to the conclusion that God's will, not Tony's or his parents will would be done during his early portion of life.
- As Tony's father I was allowed to resurrect my son Tony's life after the second battle with cancer. The physicians had pronounced Tony dead, and God allowed me to hold him and breathe life back into my son. This was a special blessing for both me as a father and my son. From that day forward, Tony had this special desire to stay completely connected to me and share his deepest experiences with me.
- Tony's name spelled backward is 'Y-NOT'. Based on this fact Tony renamed God's version of 'Why Not Jesus' to 'Y Not Jesus.' Tony also created the website YNOTJESUS.com
- After the three periods of time (two years and four months) Tony was resurrected unto life everlasting on June 17, 2010 to be with Jesus and His heavenly father.
- Throughout Tony's circumstances he echoed what the Apostle Paul and Jesus would have -- by stating no matter what happens 'it is a win-win' situation.
Tony's epitaph was and continues to be 'A Life Lived Both Forward and Backward.' Living forward Tony lived 35 years on earth and gave life to two children (Joel and Eden) with his wife Johanna. On one hand it seemed like such a short time on earth for a man; while on the other hand it was two more years than Christ lived on earth. Christ's death and resurrection was life lived backwards for us; that we might have and live eternal life forward; thus God asks in John 3:16 --- Why Not Jesus! I loved humanity so much that I would let my son Jesus live forward on earth for 33 years and allow Him to give it backward so that your life could be lived eternally forward for ever more. Whether God has a person living a life forward or backward, Tony would always remind people of God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
As Tony's parents, Marilynn and I walk by utter faith and proudly state that Tony's life was lived forward on earth for 35 years, and it was God's good pleasure to allow Tony's life and name to be played backwards to continue the question ... 'Y Not Jesus.' Jeremiah 29:11
Stan and Marilynn can be contacted at [email protected] or 918.521.4950
Writing assistance by Michael Mathews