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Mom and the Prodigal Veteran – Part Two

By Diane Underhill on @deenamadams

This week’s post is the dramatic conclusion of Diane Underhill’s story of hope about her son, Matt, who was injured in Iraq. We pick up where Matt had decided to have his leg amputated due to severe pain and the excessive medications he had to take.

If you missed part one, read it here.

CLICK TO TWEET: Part Two of Mom and the Prodigal Veteran: A Story of Hope. By Diane Underhill on @deenamadams

In the spring of 2010, Matt checked into the hospital for the exam prior to his amputation surgery.

They discovered the reason he hadn’t healed and was getting worse was due to contracting MRSA, a bacterium resistant to antibiotics that can destroy skin and organs, during a previous surgery. 

The surgeon removed the infection, put a new antibiotic filled rod in his leg, and hoped for better results. After massive amounts of antibiotics, he improved. He would now heal, allowing him to walk with less pain and maybe even run again.

He accumulated many DUIs, suspended licenses, and additional charges. Lawyer fees and court fines accumulated until he couldn’t keep up with the costs.

After lending him over $10,000, my funds as a retired teacher were quickly dwindling.  

Finances were only a part of the problem. My depression increased, my weight dropped dramatically, and I couldn’t sleep. The whole family suffered with worry. As a result, I turned more to God and prayed constantly. 

I asked Jesus to show me the way to turn my burdens over to Him.  

After spending several days in jail, Matt agreed to attend a six-month school in Richmond, moving away from the friends who were adversely influencing him.

Unfortunately for Matt, the effects of accumulated depression, his PTSD, and the damaging brain injury turned out to be too much for him.  

On Thanksgiving weekend, he returned home. He was rather quiet and remained upstairs in his room until late. I went upstairs to check on him. He was in the bed but wouldn’t answer when I called.

I shook him but there was no response. 

Suddenly, he sat up and said, “Why am I still here?” He had taken an entire bottle of oxycodone, hoping he would never wake up.  

What had led to misery so intense he wished to die? 

The Bible tells us that sin separates us from God. “For the wages of sin is death.” Matt failed to understand that “the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 

It was a miracle he was alive! I refused to give up on him.

The Bible speaks to moms when it says, “Can a mother forget her baby and have no compassion on the child she has borne?”

But God loved Matt too, and He had a plan for him.

The rest of that verse says, “Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:15,16 

Their counseling included Christian based principles. He felt isolated until one night he had a vision of Christ. He was awakened to another reality, the spiritual one that matters.

God answered my prayers at last. 

Matt found God’s love that night. God convicted Matt of all his wrongs, and he turned away from his decadent friends and destructive addictions and turned to Jesus. He reached out to those he had hurt to repair wrongs and pay debts.

Matt understood he was forgiven and faithfully believed the verse where Jesus says, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” John 12:47   

He moved to Massachusetts to live in a VA sponsored home for recovering patients. His new desire was to live as God would have him live. Since that move, Matt has neither touched a drop of alcohol nor taken illegal drugs. God gave him the strength to resist. 

He re-enrolled in college with a focus on theology. Despite his brain injury and lack of a religious scholarly background, he was successful. Another miracle involved his improved physical recovery.  

Recently, Matt and his wife, Erica, who he met at Northpoint Bible College, each earned a bachelor’s degree in ministry. They have two sons, Caleb and Joshua.  

Matt plans to devote his life to spreading the gospel and gives many testimonies, especially to other veterans.

His message is about the power to resist drug and alcohol addictions through the grace of Jesus Christ and having a personal relationship with Him.   

Today, our society commonly believes in the mantra, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

Experiences in my life and that of my son showed many times the error of this philosophy.

We must give up attempts to control and turn to Jesus instead. 

“Yes, He alone is my rock, my rescuer, defense and fortress. Why then should I be tense with fear when troubles come?” Psalms 62:2, 6, 7 

Now when Christmas arrives, we still hope the children will one day understand the value of giving and receiving.

But more than anything, we hope to convey the most important gift of all time: God’s Son in human form to save the world. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16  

About the author: 
Diane Underhill went to ODU where she majored in English-Education and taught high school English at Indian River High School and Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. She was inducted into Alpha Delta Kappa, a sorority for women teachers of excellence, served as secretary and received a Silver Sister Twenty-five-Year Award. 

After teaching for thirty-two years for Chesapeake Public Schools, she wrote curriculum for the school system for two years, taught at Tidewater Community College for three years, and became a Supervisor for ODU where she trained teachers for six years.

She still has a love for teaching and, therefore, she tutors students who need additional help, especially in writing. She also teaches dance and writes articles for the web page and newsletter of Virginia Beach Shag Club where she has served as Nominating Chairperson, Secretary, Vice President’s alternate, and President’s alternate. For serving the dance community, she will be inducted into the Virginia Shaggers Hall of Fame 2020. She also loves teaching Sunday school to three, four, and five-year-olds.

Join the conversation. Does Diane’s story give you hope? What aspect of her journey inspires you most? Can you share a favorite scripture to help people who may be struggling right now? Encourage others and share this story using the social media links below.

As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.