Author’s note: Morgan gave me permission to share this story with you all. I hope you find it meaningful.
“How can I pray for you?”
Seems pretty innocuous right? How could that lead me down a road I’d never imagine?
I put those few words into a tweet and sent them out meaning no real harm and hoping I could help someone. That’s when Morgan reached out to me and asked if we could have a private conversation about how I could pray for him. This was the message I received:
Perhaps it’s most helpful if I give you a quick background: I was diagnosed with Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumors (DSRCT) in 2014, right after I turned 23 and just a few months out of college. It’s a rare, incurable kind of soft-tissue sarcoma that’s classified as a pediatric cancer. I’ve had all the treatments: chemo, radiation, surgeries, and I’m currently on my 4th clinical trial.
I wrote a book that I finished early in 2017 that I’ve been seeking a publisher/agent for since then, no luck yet. The book is part retelling my cancer treatment, part reflections on relevant theological issues relating to it. If you’re interested my pinned tweet should be a link to an excerpt from the manuscript that ran in Notre Dame Magazine this summer.
Nonfiction seems like a tough one to get into without an established platform, and my full-time treatment makes that hard. I appreciate whatever advice you might have to offer.
And thank you for your original tweet! I didn’t realize how much I needed some prayers today until I saw it. Thanks.
I read that message and my heart broke. But I received it right before I was heading to bed. I’ll handle it in the morning I thought.
As twitter conversations often do this one fell by the wayside. This was my fault entirely. I forgot to respond. A few weeks passed and then this message came through:
Just wondering if you had any advice about publishing or possible contacts to try in the publishing world.
Yesterday I got a very bad PET scan with a lot of new growth, especially in my liver. I know it’s unrealistic at this point to hope for much since I’m not exactly famous enough for posthumous publication, but I also know I’ll regret if I don’t pursue any and every lead in the time I have left. Thanks for any help you can offer,
Crap. I dropped the ball big time. But I was determined to remedy what I could, I tweeted, I prayed, I reached out to my contacts. I emailed my friend and first publisher Keith Gammons at Smyth and Helwys. Keith gave me his word he’d look at the manuscript and would get back to us.
On Friday I received this message from Morgan:
Hi, I just wanted to let you know that Smyth and Helwys extended an offer of publication which I am accepting! Thank you so much for putting us in touch. I really, really appreciate it. So much. Thank you.
I tell you this story not to brag, I clearly dropped the ball. But I want to translate this into a theological key. God is all about redeeming the years (to borrow from the prophet Joel). I can’t take away Morgan’s cancer, I can’t fix that. Nor do I have the answers that can explain why a God would allow such tragedy. But I can unequivocally say that I will carry Morgan’s message forward with me, I will carry the message that a God who is engaged in the world is engaged in love.
A God who is engaged and submerged in the darkness of this world will never let the message of love die even if we do. So this is our message, this is our standard and where we lay our claim. May we be bold to pick up where others leave off, and may we stand in the gap for those who need the love of God and a chance to tell their story. This is a solemn duty and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. We are made to tell the story of love. We are made to restore what locust has eaten away. Because in so doing we find the heart of God.