Saturday, February 20, 2010

Faith for a child.

In one moment, your life can change forever.
From one phone call, life takes a turn that you did not expect.

Little did I know, when I wrote the post
"It is well," that tragedy was just around the corner for my family.

My emotions still run deep concerning the events of the last month, but I will not keep them inside much longer. I will let them out, with the hope that, in the saying of it, hope will spring up in others.

Each person in my family has a different version to tell, each from a different vantage point. Here are the events that unfolded from my point of view.

I had not been inside for 10 minutes when I got the call. "Your sister is in the hospital. There is no heartbeat."
My heart paused for a moment as the weight of those words descended upon me.

The baby!

We had just returned to Washington from an exciting weekend with over 4,000 youth in Portland. In a flash, that passion was almost to be snuffed out.

My sister called and all we could do was cry through the phone to one another. There were no words. I said I would come back down to Portland the next day to stand beside her.

That night, as I fell asleep, I knew I would dream about the baby.
Sure enough, I did. In my dream I saw a bird lying on the ground. The bird was picked up and it turned into a tiny baby that was purple. "The baby is dead. " were the words spoken over the baby, but then I saw the baby yawn. "Look at the baby!" I said. I held the baby in my hands, it was tiny. The baby began to move and I put the baby to my breast to feed it. "The baby is alive!" I exclaimed.

I awoke from the dream and did not know what to think of it. I decided to just dismiss it; my dreams seem to usually be more symbolic than prophetic anyway. But I secretly wanted to hope that it would come true.

Every action I took that day seemed to be in slow motion. Each step dragging, yet hurtling me forward toward a death I did not want to face.

The two and a half hour drive back down to Portland gave me time to think and pray. I let the words of great hymns that have traveled down through the ages wash over me. Words like,
"You are my hiding place, You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I feel afraid... I will trust in You, I will trust in You. Let the weak say 'I am strong' in the strength of the Lord." and "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll... It is well." and "Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh God, my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee... "
In that space of time in the car, I wrestled with my Lord. I pleaded with Him to remove this cup of suffering from before my sister, she has known it too well already. How can they endure it?!

I also wrestled with an overwhelming desire to believe for a miracle, but, then again, I didn't want to be disappointed either.

As I neared the hospital, I was informed that there was a room full of people praying next to their room. They were praying in faith that the baby would be brought back to life! In that instant, something rose up in me, an excitement that I've never felt before. Well then, YES! let's believe!

I timidly entered the room, still unsure of what I would find. But the energy in that room was electric. I went to my sister's side and held her hand. She was not distraught, she was full of hope, full of faith! My demeanor changed. I remembered the dream and wondered if I should tell her? Or would that just make things worse?

I told her. Why not?! I believed, without a doubt, that the miracle working hand of God, which raised many from the dead, would be seen in that hospital room! So did she.

Baby Lydia was born and was very dead. Yet, in spite of what we saw, we still believed. I even believed that God was use me as He did Elisha in the story of the Shunnamite woman's son {2 Kings 4}, so I breathed into the breathless mouth.

No breath ever came.

We prayed until we knew it was time to go home.

The most heart-wrenching moment came as I walked down the corridor beside my sister's wheelchair. It was so final in that moment. It was the end of a much-longed-for life. My sister wept and I felt her agony. Grief had begun.

Grief has it's place in our lives, although it is not a sought-after companion. My thoughts turn to the character "Much-Afraid" who was given two companions on her journey to find True Love: "Sorrow" and "Suffering" were to be her guides. I could not understand what the significance of those guides were when I read "Hinds' Feet on High Places" so long ago. I do now. I believe that sorrow and suffering will be turned to Grace and Glory. In my life. In my sister's life. In my family's life.

I had a moment of pure clarity the day my sister came home from the hospital. I saw how Lydia's birth allowed a truer and deeper faith to be birthed in me; a faith that's tender shoots must be sheltered and nurtured for it's roots to go down deep.

But the enemy does not tarry long and usually comes at the most vulnerable moments. I quickly saw how the enemy of my soul would love to stomp out that new life in me.

All the way back home to Washington, I wrestled with the thoughts and doubts that bombarded me. Thoughts that said, " Where was your God?" and "Your God must not really be good." and "I guess you don't really know this God of yours." and "It seems that the case for atheism is even stronger now." God's character really came under attack in the subsequent days that followed. It became almost impossible for me to even sing... the very thing I was made to do, I struggled to do.

I was disappointed and underwhelmed by what seemed to be His lack of action. Instead of planning a baby shower, we were now planning a funeral.

I felt like such a dark cloud of confusion descended upon me. As we traveled back to Portland for the memorial service, I could be of no comfort to the one who needed it most. I was still so disappointed in my Lord.

We watched as Lydia's ashes were sprinkled on a garden plot. It was awful to see a baby reduced to a tiny bag of ash. But she was poured out onto soil and watered with tears and someday that soil will bear fruit and nourish many souls.

How does one go back to living? Each smile, each laugh feels like a betrayal to the sadness for the one who has been lost. While everyone else goes back to their routines, my sister is left with empty arms.

The cloud of darkness did not dissipate as we returned yet again to Washington. I felt as if I were in a daze. Then, through the haze, came a piercing light. So unexpected and so needed. I had opened my Bible to look for a story and there, leaping from the page were these words: "See, I have set before you this day, life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days..." {Isaiah 30:19-20}

I knew then that I had a choice. It was quite simple really; I either choose to trust Him or I turn and be swallowed up by that yawning mouth of death. The death of my faith as the bitterness and unbelief overcome me.

I chose Life.

What do you hold on to when your worst fears seem to be coming true? When innocence is torn from your grasp? You cling to Him.

It makes me tremble to remember the pure and passionate faith that rose up in me amidst the fear of disappointment. Even so, there may be some who read this and shrug at our seeming "foolishness". I suppose I would rather be considered "foolish" in the eyes of men than foolish in the eyes of God. I would rather believe for a miracle that defies "reality", than be reserved and dead inside. In the words of author Jack Deere, "Most of my life I've made the mistake of believing God for too little. For the rest of my life, if I have to make a mistake, it's going to be believing God for too much."

It is true, the miracle did not come for us this time. I don't totally understand why. It was not the outcome that I desperately desired it to be. But, there is one thing I don't have to wonder about: where Lydia is. Oh, how I envy her sometimes! She is with the One I love! She is basking in His radiance! There is no darkness of pain there.

Death, where is thy sting!

We will be there with you soon, baby girl. It seems hard to wait now, but I know that when we get there, our time here in the Shadowlands will seem like just a breath.

"'And God will wipe every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new...' {Revelation 21:4-6}

Watch this video to be moved as I have been:

If you struggle with believing that God is good, I would suggest you read Randy Alcorn's book, "If God is Good... "

If you struggle with believing miracles can happen today, I would suggest you read this article, "Is Healing For Today?"

If you still haven't read the classic, "Hinds' Feet on High Places", DO IT!!! You will not regret it!

I will say one final thing. I have been so inspired by the strength my sister has shown through this trial. Even as I pleaded with God to let this test pass from them, I knew that they would endure and come out the other side victorious! When others would turn away to the darkness of despair and bitterness, they would cling to Him, and the story, that would touch many lives, would flow from their lips. I know my sister meant the words, "God is so good... He's so good to me" as she sang them at her baby's funeral. Though those words cut her, she surrendered. She is being redefined by the fire, and it will not devour her.


When, at last, we see His face,
All of our pain will be erased.


Danielle Renee said...

I will be the first one to say Thank you for this post, it is beautiful and I feel honored that Lydia's life is remembered in a way that represents Life.

Youthful One said...


I am so deeply touched by this, no words have I to express.

The Everett Family said...

I am so sorry she (and your family) have had to walk this road.
It is hard to fill the vast heartache of sadness with mere words.
Yet, you have created a beautiful tribute to your sister and your niece.
Your ability to so vividly express the heartache and comfort Danielle is a treasure.
The two of you walking together (along with many others), sharing the burden of grief
and rejoicing in a God who becomes Strong in our weaknesses is essential to healing.
May the God of Hope bring you Joy and Peace today!

Pamela said...

What a blessed remembrance of such a precious life. Thank you for sharing!! And thank you, Danielle, for being such a source of strength. You will never know the depth of your influence in the face of this trial. Be blessed!!

Stephenie said...

oh. I don't have words either, just tears. Thank you for letting us see into your hearts a bit and feel along with you. SO grateful there are Beautiful Loving Arms holding Lydia and all of your family. Wish I could too. loves.

Julie Kilts said...

This is so beautiful and such a wonderful testimony!!! I want you to know how much this moved me!! May God continue to give you and your family comfort!

Julie Kilts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lora said...

How utterly beautiful and encouraging and timely was your tribute. Yes God is so good. This blog will be a treasure for me and my family to come. It has touched me to my very core as I am sure it will many others. I know you will not take your gifting lightly. You are HIs and He is yours. Thank you .

Jenny said...

I couldn't finish reading...

My heart truly aches. No words...

Tiffany said...

Christa, This is devastatingly beautiful. G&D made that service so special, so sweet, and I was so impressed at their caring for others while they are walking through such a time.

As beautiful as this is, I know the emotions, the sorrow, run even deeper than words can describe. May grace like rain fall abundantly as you all walk through the days to come. xoxo

DotBlogger said...

Your faith is beautifully expressed.