Grace Through Anna: Meet the Currats

Last year I was contacted by someone who had been listening to our daily radio show on GraceFM. He had heard a sermon of mine in which I talked about the miracle that God worked in the life of my daughter Felicia (you can read that story here: I Believe in Miracles; Here’s Why).

This man, Nic, shared with me the story of his daughter, Anna, who is now 3 and who has significant disabilities. Over the past year I have kept in touch with Nic and his family; I read their updates and pray for them. I must tell you how incredibly impressed I am with Nic and his wife and their love dedication to their daughter, as well as their faith in God.

I have been so blessed by them that I wanted to introduce this family to you and give you a chance to be encouraged by them and what God has done in their hearts through this incredibly difficult situation, so I asked Nic to write a guest post for those who follow this site. I encourage you to pray for them and to follow their updates online: Blog & Anna Unlimited Facebook Page


My daughter, Anna, was born in adversity much like Pastor Cady’s daughter, Felicia. Both were born without making a sound, looking lifeless due to a lack of oxygen to the brain while in utero. Felicia’s initial diagnoses were worse than Anna’s. We saw answers to prayers as Anna overcame low blood pressure, blood toxicity, and respiratory distress fairly quickly during her two month stay in the NICU. Even though she left with a good heart and good lungs, she left severely disabled and shunted. Today Anna is 3 and the adversity continues. She is unable to walk and talk; she is unable to sit, roll, or hold her head up. For the most part, she cannot command her arms and legs the way she wants to. Anna is mostly tube fed and has severe reflux as well as a severe visual impairment. Despite all this, she is a privilege to be around. Anna can manifest excitement better than any words can. Her smiles and coos are year-round, even amid physical pain. She smiles to appreciate our nearness and giggles to appreciate our touch. I know of nobody more patient than Anna. Even in her therapies, Anna tries hard -showing effort rather than complaint.

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Felicia, on the other hand, is a hiker, runner, talker, and eater. She is blessed with much ability.  All glory and fame to our Lord because of His healing hand. The Cadys received a special, exceptional, supernatural healing from God upon their daughter Felicia within her first year of life. Given God’s limitlessness, it was a very little thing for Him to bestow full healing on Felicia.  I’ve never met the Cadys, but I know their God. I ponder the mysterious fact that nobody knows why Felicia was fully healed and Anna was not. Did the Cadys have more prayer warriors? Did they capitalize on their missionary credentials to turn God’s ear? Nonsense! It happened as the Lord willed to bring forth His Kingdom. Instead of me stomping my feet, being a jealous little brother in Christ, demanding God to exhibit fairness, I dwell humbly – amazed in the Lord of all Possibilities. Felicia received the miracle I long to see for Anna! Knowing Felicia is out there is a total affirmation of my grandest hope of healing for my daughter. In faith I say, “What God can do for them, He can do for us in His perfect timing!”

In truth, Anna isn’t the girl we wanted to parent. But God gave her to us. Therefore, God is growing us through this. God uses our engulfing storms of caring for Anna as a way to mature us in Christ. My wife and I are constantly reminded that the life we would want for ourselves is dead (it died the day we took on Christ). But we comprehend this death more fully thanks to Anna. In times of our “wits-end,” when our inadequacy is apparent, or when medical intervention proves useless, we just have to stop and surrender. God is in control; He hears our prayers; He miraculously keeps us on course as time passes and we relent. I have learned to press into God and to depend on Him.

We’ve already talked to God about how others stare at Anna, or that we may be changing diapers until the day we die.  My wife and I admit that Anna’s disability and prognosis draws from within us heaviness, fears, and tears at times. Sometimes we have to drop off those burdens and fears repeatedly in prayer, remembering the cross of Christ, and exchanging our afflictions for His righteousness. That righteousness from God is a yoke easy to carry and a covering that prohibits fear.

“If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.” 1 Corinthians 15:19. This verse pushes me to dwell on the eternal things that Christ will bring. Anna’s suffering is temporary; her restoration and salvation even with little cognition; are secure in Jesus. Drawing near to God always proves productive. It is a blessing to have Him as He shows us His glory when we can’t see anything but hardship. We praise the Lord for loving us, for miracles, and for the promises in His Word. His eternality is our gaze, not the temporary suffering.  Anna brings me to the Lord because her needs surpass me and what grander purpose is there for living than to draw people into conversations with Jesus Christ?

“All That is Gold Does Not Glitter”

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring

I remember as a kid, discovering my parents’ record collection, and listening to their albums on the turntable in our basement. My favorite album was Led Zepplin IV: the one which had all the symbols for the title.

In that album there were several references to J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, particularly in The Battle of Evermore and Misty Mountain Hop, and of course the opening lines of Stairway to Heaven: “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying the stairway to heaven.”

That is a reference to a poem from The Fellowship of the Ring, a riddle which is found in Gandalf’s letter to Frodo, which he left for him at Bree. Frodo only realizes later that the riddle is about a person: Strider, AKA Aragorn, the true king – who is the Christ figure in the story.

Yesterday was Tolkien’s 125th birthday. Born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the Oxford don never actually aimed to be a fantasy writer, but the fantasy literature he wrote led to a subsequent surge in fantasy writing. Tolkien did not consider The Lord of the Rings to be his greatest achievement. Tolkien’s main passion was linguistics, and he created multiple working languages over the course of his life.

As I have written about before (see: Addison’s Walk), Tolkien was very interested in the topic of what he called “fairy stories,” and why it is that they captivate people the way they do, especially in an age of science and reason. He believed that the reason is because the characteristic features of all the great stories reflect the deep human longings – and as such, they point to an underlying reality which is more real that reality as we experience it.

Upon further reflection Tolkien recognized that all these key elements are also present in the gospel story of Jesus. His conclusion was that the gospel is not just one more story which points to this underlying reality, but that the gospel isthe underlying reality to which all the stories point.

The movies that move you to tears. The stories which you can’t get enough of, even though they contain the same elements as all the other stories: heroic self-sacrifice, life out of death, love without parting, good overcoming evil, victory snatched from the jaws out death, etc… The reason we can’t get enough of these stories is because they point to THE STORY which is written on our hearts. Tolkien was the master story teller precisely because he understood this.

When Tolkien wrote “All that is gold does not glitter,” he was not only referring to Aragorn, but to a fundamental and biblical truth: that some of the most precious and truly valuable things in this world are not monetary or even material at all.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,”

“…your faith which is more precious than gold” (1 Peter 1:3-4, 7)

Addison’s Walk

I took my family for a walk the other day down a path called Addison’s Walk: a mile-long footpath around an island created by the river Cherwell in Oxford, England. The island and the path are part of Magdalen College, one of the 39 colleges that makes up Oxford University.

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It was there on Addison’s Walk that CS Lewis and his friend Jack, AKA J.R.R. Tolkien, had a conversation late one night after dinner, which Lewis later said was a turning point in his journey from atheism to Christianity.

Tolkien and Lewis both taught at Oxford and they were both part of the Oxford literary society known as “The Inklings”. The Inklings would meet regularly at two pubs in Oxford: the Eagle and Child, which they nicknamed “Bird and Baby”, and the Lamb and Flag. Both pubs are still there today, on opposite sides of the same street. At their meetings, the Inklings would discuss literature and share their writings with each other. It was at the Lamb and Flag that Tolkien read his first drafts of The Lord of the Rings.

Lewis and Tolkien shared a love for stories. They both felt the power of stories, and Tolkien had written a book titled, On Fairy Stories, which discussed how even in a scientific age, an “age of reason,” for some reason, people still desire to hear and to read fictional stories, even stories which talk about a supernatural world. The reason for this, he said, is that the characteristics which make up all the stories which people love: good overcoming evil, escaping time, overcoming physical limitations, interacting with non-human creatures and other-worldly beings, etc.; these reflect the deep longings of the human heart.

The reason we can’t get enough of these stories, Tolkien argued, is because deep down we believe that this is the way the world SHOULD BE, even if it’s not the way it currently is. The reality of life is that good doesn’t always win, that eventually we are separated from those we love, and so on – but even if this is how things are, it’s not how we believe that they should be. And so we love to read stories which describe life the way we believe it should be.

CS Lewis agreed with Tolkien on this point, and believe that this was indeed the power of stories. However, Tolkien took it one step further that night on Addison’s Walk: he told his friend CS Lewis to consider the gospel story of Jesus Christ. This story, he said, contains all of the elements which make every great story great: love which overcomes death, life out of death, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, overcoming physical limitations, the promise of a world where things finally will be the way they should be… Lewis agreed.

Then Tolkien went one step further: he said, the gospel story of Jesus Christ is not just one more good story which points to the underlying reality, it is the underlying reality to which all other stories point.

The gospel story of Jesus Christ is not just one more good story which points to the underlying reality, it is the underlying reality to which all the other stories point.

CS Lewis then asked how he could be sure, to which Tolkien encouraged him to look at the historical facts surrounding Jesus’ resurrection.

It was that conversation which CS Lewis credited with leading him back to Christian faith. He went on to be one of the most effective apologists for CHristianity in the 20th century, partly because he was so intelligent, partly because he had been an atheist and was personally familiar with the arguments against Christianity, and partly because he was a layman and not a Christian minister.

I walked with my kids along Addison’s Walk, along the River Cherwell, and I told them the story of how Clive Lewis and Jack Tolkien had taken that walk along the same path, and I told them how Tolkien had shared with his friend this message of the gospel, and how all the things which cause us to love the stories we love point to “the true story of the world” – the story of Jesus and what he did for us.

As I did, my voice cracked a little bit as I tried to hold it together; you see, my heart has these deep longings as well. The promise of the gospel is that these things will not only remain longings, but one day they will once again be true, because of what Jesus did for us.