That Most Awkward Moment of Birthing the Baby with No Brain

Years ago we often read to our boys from a Picture Bible Story Book. There were basic but vivid pictorial accounts of many common Bible stories. Blind Bartimaeus was a favorite and always gave pause as he was depicted to lack visible eyes. I still today recall his portrayal as our boys would often cry out in shocked wonder, “Look Mom! No eyes! Poor Bartimaeus, He has no eyes! He has no eyes!” We know it eventually ended quite well for Blind Bart as he cried to the passing King with increasing intensity and frequency, “Jesus, Thou Son of David! Have mercy on me!” It no small disturbance that arose as the crowd attempted to hush him to silence. (Ever noticed how often those who cry to the Lord tender an accusation of disruption?) We know in this case the passing Lord paused, called him over as He requested the manner of his petition, and of course Jesus subsequently granted his request by imparting sight to see what his faith already believed. And he followed Him to Jerusalem. (As a side… I am most thankful where intangible faith is visible to only His all seeing eyes, though scorned by others, His sensitivity to our needs never diminishes, and the King performs acts of tenderness where others only ridicule.)

And I was thinking and praying this morning for that young couple I was honored to care for some months back, as they carried for nine months, and then delivered a known anecephalic baby to love in this world for only an hour or perhaps two at most. They chose the joyful pain of a brief life but not a fruitless extra-ordinary life sustaining effort that would have yielded no final profit but perhaps a few more heart-wrenching hours. The indelible mark they made upon each of us by their life-choices made months previous swept over the C-Section operating room by a manifested weight of bonding, care and tenderness which was modeled in love before family, friends and staff. As the newly delivered baby boy struggled for breath and life, he seemed to know some degree of resolution and comfort as he was immediately taken from mom’s surgically opened uterus to her awaiting warm loving arms and breasts as she washed him in tears and comforted him in tender care. Maybe some tears were mine? I cannot be sure for the pain and weight of glory was very heavy on me that day as I fought the impossibility to retain my composure. 

A short time later in the post-op recovery room Mom, Dad and Brother each held and shared their brief gift of God-given bundle of painful joy. It was then I began to see more clearly the power of love modeled before their three year-old son, and the preeminent glory of God granted in this fleeting but eternal gift who struggled for life, all bundled and wrapped as he tarried but a few moments more… his angels, no doubt, patiently stood near by awaiting his final fleeting breath that they might gloriously usher him to a most Perfect Setting.

It was truly a moment of overwhelming consequence for me that was not without tears. But tears should always bring us to joy as now in reflection. I know Mom and Dad still have hearts that hurt, for mine afflicts me in this random Lord’s Day morning recollection. They chose life, if it was only for a few minutes or a couple of hours at the most. The strength required for mom to carry her baby for those nine months was remarkable. But the grace  demonstrated over the latter half of her pregnancy after she learned that she would only hold her terribly deformed son a few fleeting moments before he departed life, this grace rises to a level beyond description.

“Who sinned that he should be born this way…?” “It was neither that he nor his parents sinned, but for the glory of God.”

I don’t know guys. I don’t know but that is a different type of grace and love, that I can not fully know, but I see it and admire it. And I can thank God for the way He spoke to me that day. Love without the reality of pain is an illusion, and a counterfeit, don’t you think? Fundamentally, our hearts are dangerously exposed to pain when we love. All that we are must be layed upon the table to know love and to give love. Sacrifice of self for the good of others with a view of the glory of God defines love. “Here is love. Not that we loved God but that God loved us and gave…

“Let the little children come to Me.” (Jesus)

Below you will have opportunity to see again why I often point to Jack as one who easily articulates what I struggle to put into words. If you have never taken the time to listen to the audio version of CS Lewis reading from his hand written manuscript copy of “The Four Loves”, you have missed a lot. I can encourage you to consider trying then download the updated, Chuck Colson commentary version. At a minimum pick up a copy of the book at the local library. 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

CS Lewis

“The Four Loves”

When God Looks at Us and Says to Others, “Hey you guys, watch this…”

“Some thoughts on the frequent impossibility of initially (or ever) reconciling our observations of God’s purpose and wisdom with the inconsistency of our life, faults, sins, righteousness and/or agendas.”

We want to think of a God who acts and accomplishes good “in spite of” man’s sin in His predictably safe role of “Heavenly Responder” to our calamities. (And He does this in some respects.) God fixes our mess-ups. In a sense what we really desire is a God who MUST ALWAYS act in a certain prescribed manner for then He is controlled, and we find comfort in the known. However scripture reveals an expanded view of God, a LARGER GOD who incorporates personal sins, failures and simple faults as a first cause in the advancement of His purpose and kingdom. The boundaries of God’s wisdom, ways and power always exceeds our greatest imagination and certainly our loftiest understanding. God has woven His plan eternally beforehand by decree as He acts “because of” His purpose and glory through normative human events including our sin, and not “in spite of” our deviation from or dereliction of revealed will. His secret will abides perpetually perfect; “it belongs to God.” Things revealed we own in imperfect experience which validates His perfection. Did God decree my sin? Or is it somewhere comfortably tucked away into that mysterious catch-all box labeled “The Permissive Will of God”?

Oh, BTW. This is not your meal ticket to sin uncontrollably and indiscriminately. “Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires,” not to embrace them as we are instructed to live par excellence to Another’s glory.  

A simple reading of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah in Matthew 1 indicates that this principle of God’s purpose in frail men and women is true. The “all things after the counsel of His will” really means “all things” without exception. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, Ruth, David, Bathsheba, Solomon, are all prominently listed and known for occasional terrible life choices. They also displayed remarkable repentance. You would think the Genealogy of Jesus would read like a “Who’s Who in the Faith” It doesn’t, and yet it does. And God embraces them (and such as these) as those people of faith of whom the world is not worthy. God uses the common and ordinary vessels of clay and bestows them with honor and favor. 

And I look in the mirror and bless God for sufficient grace to embrace my past and present frailty and failings as I look future and say, “He is able.”

And then yesterday in God’s unpredictable and initially most uncomfortable providence I attended the glorious birth of a terribly deformed baby with a condition incompatible with life, of which mom and dad were aware from the early stages of the pregnancy. They chose life and full-term delivery. Others would have likely made a bee-line toward the abortion option as an escape route. As an added bonus this mom weekly had to undergo terrible punctures with a ginormous needle to relieve excessive amniotic fluid buildup. And she still smiled. I was both fascinated and moved deeply as they loved the child before and after birth for those few moments she lived; and God was glorified and His purpose has begun to be satisfied. Was it their sin or the baby’s sin that ordered these events? No, it was for the glory of God in the first cause. That is what Jesus said and that is where I live, and that is what I will share all the days of my life. 
I still learn and really must try harder to minimize giving commentary and complaint on what God is up to when I witness or experience an interruption or implosion or explosion, or just normal life. It is often best to refrain from giving advice on what God is up to in the trendy aspects of life. I rather should focus on growing in grace and faith by training my ears and eyes to hear and see as God says, “Hey you guys, watch this…” I should encourage others to see the smiling face behind Life’s frequent frowning providences. It’s God’s way, thus it is God’s wisdom. “Hey guys, watch GOD in this as He brings glory to His name.” I recently learned this and daily need reminders. I am thankful He is patient with the stiff-necked… so very thankful. 

“He has done all things well.”

“He makes all things new.”

Thanks again to George Dobbs for another beautiful picture. Follow him on Facebook if you desire to see more.