Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Miracles. We all need reminders that they happen. It's hard because life gets difficult in so many ways and creates in us a longing for miracles to happen, to lift us out of the heartache and misery. God always finds a way for working through our circumstances, but it often takes us time to see that God was there in our difficulty helping and holding, just differently than what we imagined it would look like. But miracles do happen. I say it knowing full well there are those who are standing in grief, who are trying to reconcile the goodness of God with loss that defies description and cannot be contained.
So here is the story of mine. I share it because there is a part of me that needs to be reminded too. I need to remember because it changes how I live today. I get so caught up in the ordinary hustle and bustle of my family's life that I forget how getting to our ordinary was extraordinary.
Those who remember my younger days would probably say that the desire to start a family was the original miracle. I was totally focused on my career, very much steeped in the identity of the young professional. But I remember the moment my heart changed. It was as if a light came on in my soul, and I discovered a mother-love within that I had not recognized before. The irony is that my greatest fear seemed to come true: that I would put off having children so long until one day when I wanted them, I would be unable to have them.
Tim and I tried for three years.
During that time God moved me from being an Associate Pastor at a large church in South Florida to being a campus minister at a state university in a small Kentucky town. As time passed, I began to believe God gave me the desire to be a mother so that I could be a better minister. But it still hurt so much every time I saw a baby baptism at church. The desire never diminished; it never went away.
Then one day in September I went for a run. I was also praying, remembering someone's words that God would do great things at the campus ministry I was serving. In a Bible study I was involved in at the time, we were studying King Ahaz. God offered King Ahaz the opportunity to name any sign he wanted to prove God's faithfulness. Ahaz refused, so God gave the sign of "the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and name him Emmanuel." I told God that if He offered me the opportunity to choose a sign of His faithfulness to the campus ministry I was serving, that's the one I would choose: for my husband and I to have a baby.
These thoughts came towards the end of my run. Soon I reached my stopping point, turned around, and began walking home. I ran in a popular park where families often gathered, so I didn't think it unusual when I fell into step with a woman pushing a baby carriage. I recognized her as one of the regulars. Pretty soon she began a conversation with me.
She asked me about running, commenting on how fast I was. I told her I really wasn't that fast, but my husband was. She asked me how long I had been married. I said seven years. She asked me if I had children. I said no. She asked me if we had been trying. I hesitated.
No one knew we were trying.
We had been trying for three years. Our hearts were raw with the hoping and the hurting, the monthly disappointment. And our families just thought we didn't want children. We had been struggling for so long, so alone. This was a burden of the heart I just didn't share.
Except on this day there was this little nudge.
When I tell her we had been trying, the lady with the stroller asks me how long. When I told her three years, she stops mid-stride, looks me in the eye, and says, "God sent me to you today."
Really? Is this really happening?
She told me that I would be able to have a baby. That the delay had to do with God's timing. That the time had come to tell our family. That God had sent her to me to give me hope.
And then in the middle of that park she prayed for me.
That was in September. On December 31st I found out I was pregnant with our first child, Noah Joseph. He was born August 20, 2004. And then on November 10, 2006, we had baby number two, Isaiah Wesley. And we were a complete happy family. I gave away all the baby furniture, baby clothes, baby paraphenalia. And on December 1, 2009 we welcomed baby number three, Jeremiah Allen.
God's sense of humor is that we now have a boy for each year of trying. Three years of famine. A lifetime of harvest.
Miracles each one.
Signs and wonders, and oh I need to remember how much God loves and listens and lavishes all His Goodness onto our barren lives. I so needed to be reminded that this mothering busyness is Holy Work. I am so thankful for the Invitation, and oh so needeful of Grace to help me fulfill it.
Miracles do still happen.