Would I Write the Story Differently?

I can still see him, choking back strong emotions as he told the story of the night he nearly died. This grown man had been a baby at the time, living in Nicaragua while my grandfather was a surveyor for the Trans-Continental Highway. Their home was in a small village, far from civilization. My grandmother was alone with her five small children, and my uncle had developed a high fever. She struggled to bring his fever down and give him some relief, but there was little that she could do under the circumstances.

Having done all that she could, she remembered the prayer she had prayed over each of her children when they had been born, put his life in God's hands, then lay down and went to sleep - fulling expecting that her baby might not live through the night.

My grandparents with two of their babies. (My mother is the tiny one!)


It is a beach day. A chance to pick up a book and catch up on some reading while the children play, content for hours, right in front of me. The book I've chosen today? Ann Voscamp's One Thousand Gifts. I read about her struggle to accept God's plan for her life ever since she was a child, witnessing the accidental death of her sister. She records a conversation with her brother-in-law after he and his wife bury two infant sons:

"...It's God who decides it all. Not us. It's all good." He said.
"How do you know that John? Deep down, how do you know that it really is all good? That God is good? that you can say yes - to whatever He gives?" I know the story of the man I am asking, and he knows mine. His eyes linger. I know he's remembering the story too.
"You know..." John's voice breaks into my memory and his gaze lingers, then turns again toward the waving wheat field. "Well, even with our boys... I don't know why that all happened." He shrugs again. "But do I have to? ...Who knows? I don't mention it often, but sometimes I think of that story in the Old Testament. Can't remember what book, but you know - when God gave King Hezekiah fifteen more years of life? Because he prayed for it? But if Hezekiah had died when God first intended, Manasseh would never have been born. And what does the Bible say about Manasseh? Something to the effect that Manasseh had led the Israelites to do even more evil than all the heathen nations around Israel. Think of all the evil that would have been avoided of Hezekiah had died earlier. Before Manasseh was born. I am not saying anything either way, about anything."
He's watching that sea of green rolling in the winds. Then it comes slow, in a low, quiet voice that I have to strain to hear.
 "Just that maybe...maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds."
The words I choked out that dying day echo. Pierce. "If it were up to me, I'd write this story differently." There's a reason I am not writing the story and God is. He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means.
I don't.

As I read this, I am transported back in time, twenty years or more, to my grandparent's 40th anniversary and the reel that runs through my mind of my uncle's story. Of my grandmother's faith. Of my grandmother's prayer.

She had prayed that if this child would go through life not knowing God's saving grace and would spend an eternity separated from God, that He would take their life while they were still a baby, and spare that eternal heartbreak.

Hearing that took my breath away. I was still a teenager - motherhood was a far-off shadow for me - yet my heart told me that was a difficult request to make, and that it would be even more difficult to accept the consequences that might result from it. Even so, I hoped that when the time came for me to be a mother, I would have that kind of faith.

I look at my six children jumping through the surf... digging moats around sand castles... dunking blonde curls in a bucket of water...

I think about Caleb. The missing child.

When I did start having children, I was surprised at the strong feelings that came along with them. I loved them SO much that sometimes I wondered if it was a form of idolitry. I could not believe how difficult it was to make this request of God. I began to realize that I had to keep surrendering my children to God's will. Keep reigning in my heart to understand that life here is just a vapor and that eternity is what truly matters.

It could never be a one-time thing.

By the time I became pregnant with the fifth child, I had learned to wrap my mind around this concept fairly well, although by then I may have thought that it never would actually happen.

As we struggled with the grief of losing him, the prayer came back to my mind and gave me an odd kind of peace in the sovreignty of God. I remember telling some of our friends (who sang "In the Presence of Jehovah" for us at Caleb's funeral) about my grandmother's prayer and how I had prayed it for each of my children as well. They seemed to think that it was an odd thing to pray, until they saw how we grasped hold of the peace that came from knowing that our baby spent ALL of his days in the presence of God. They even reminded me of it a few weeks later - after the understanding had truly sunk in - and they had taken confidence in it as well. (Their own tiny baby was having serious heart problems and surgery at that time.)

I don't know what the outcome would have been for Caleb. I am simply assuming that God took him in answer to my prayer, because he may have lived a life without God and an eternity separated from God.

An old picture of my Uncle with his first seven children.

On the day that my uncle's story was burned into my memory, he said that he felt God had spared his life for a purpose. Being convinced of this, he set out on a life-long journey of walking closely with God, even pastoring a church for a time. He is now raising his nine children with a purposeful face toward eternity.

Why did God spare my grandmother's fifth child, but take mine?

Because He knows all things! That is why I would NOT write my story differently.

It is not for me to know. I just have to {continually} surrender the future of my children to God because He is worthy of my trust.

I will say that this has been more of a challenge than it was before. How I've choked on the prayers over the two babies born since Caleb! I'm still praying it over them, but with a stronger understanding of what it truly means to ask it.

And I am praying for my eight year old who has not made a "profession of faith" yet, and trusting God that since He did not take her as a baby, she will choose Him at some point.

- Not because I believe that God is a genie in a bottle with the intent and purpose of fullfilling my every whim, but He does give us the desires of our hearts.

Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
What is the desire of my heart? That I can take ALL of my Treasures to heaven!
The ONLY treasures that we can take to heaven are people!

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:4


Latisha said...

I am happy to say thatsince the time of this wrting, my little girl has accepted Christ as her Lord and Saviour!

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