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 Audible.com 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.”
“The Four Loves”