Very deliberately, I believe, the food pantry we were volunteering at was slow that morning. A few customers came and went uneventfully, and there were more staff than was necessary, which was unusual, so I stepped out the back door and hid behind my car where no one could hear or see my tremor, and I called the Doctor’s office. “Come on in”, they said. So I made a quick request to leave early, buckled my 2 kids into car seats and headed north.
I circled the golden arch drive-through and heard myself ask for two kids meals. I kept driving, straight to my mother-in-laws where I dropped the kids off with a forced laugh about my crazy life and blindly waved good-bye. Now alone, my breathing changed. I could feel panic pushing against my chest and I blinked dry-eyes and prayed, “Good Lord, please….please let this be ok….”.
I was 23 weeks pregnant with a son.
The nurse I had talked to on the phone met me in the lobby and guided me to an empty room where I undressed. The Doctor was at ease and wanted to pat me in reassurance, but on impulse decided to check me, and that’s when the unraveling picked up pace. My cervix was open. His eyes went round and he tumbled off his chair and fast-paced it out the door only to return within a few short minutes.
His words then came out in boldface, “I’m sorry, but your probably going to lose your baby today.”
The IV medications began to course through my blood. The ambulance ride bore down the highway. The contractions showed up early and I kept my legs together and gripped my phone in my hand in order to keep my following husband updated.
The next 12 hours are drug-induced and quite blurry. Labor commenced and in the still, dark night, we were given 2 choices. When the Doctor stopped talking and left the room, Ben’s head leaned over the bed rail and we prayed. We prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit, and we made a decision. One we’ve never regretted.
Had I not been faithful to the living push of the Holy Spirit throughout that day, I’m certain the end would have been different.
Faithfulness is a fruit so pure it can appear almost opaque. Like something light and frilly and easy to toss around. But that day, instead of admiring it’s loveliness while fanning myself with my self-righteousness, I saw how the Holy Spirit took hold of that faithfulness with both hands and stretched it down tight on both sides of me like guard rails. And I hung on for, not just my life, but for the life of my son as well. Motherhood can do that to you. And Fatherhood can too, because He did that day. And He probably does it so often that if we saw it all, we would understand how incredibly great His power really is. We might realize the magnitude of the roller coaster that races at terrifying speeds. We might see declines that would take us to spaces so deep we would curl up and give up. We would probably understand better how rails may exist in shaky territory, but ultimately lead us out too. Back to the slow. To the focus of a well beaten path that leads to Him, and to home.
Susan Schaeffer Macaulay writes, “We are not victims of despair, darkness, or the evil in ourselves or the world. There is righteousness, goodness, holiness, fairness, wholeness. This is an objective truth, the very substance of the infinite God who is indeed there and who has not been silent. And so we, the finite, can know. We don’t have to search within our own selves to find the way. There is relief. We are sheep; we have been given a shepherd. We who sit in darkness have been given a great light.”
We belong to a King who commands control by simply asking for our faithfulness. The guard rails are there. The path is laid out. Bumps will shake us. There will be places of complete blackout, time that is unlit, and not everyone in your story will choose to stay in your story. But let me say this while ascending out of a dark dusk…Things can happen in a moment of faith.
Diseases get healed.
Marriages soften or shift.
Tenderness is smoothed over loss like a soothing balm.
Insubordination backs down.
Words that weren’t there before suddenly find their purpose.
Stories turn chapters and our identity, our loneliness, our insufficient journey wakes up to rails laid down. Faithfulness.
What if you followed a commanding God simply out of obedience, because your faithfulness was locked into His salvation? Remember friend, out of all creation, you are His choice possession. He locked eyes with you the moment you drew your first breath, and He embraced the chance to be your Savior. And He doesn’t build rails that run out or dead end. No. He takes you all the way home.
James 1:2-4 (NLT), “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
In pure faithfulness,
Macaulay, Susan Schaeffer, 1984. “For The Children’s Sake”. Crossway Books. pg.43.