Nine months ago, our baby daughter was born and my wife coded afterward, an event which caused her to be hospitalized twice in the ICU and to undergo emergency, life-saving, life-altering surgery.
Recently we celebrated Christmas Commitment Sunday at our church. It’s like our 21st-century urban version of what used to be called Harvest Sunday in rural, agricultural churches: we thank God for his provision toward us in the 12 months past and ask for his protection and provision in the year to come. Folks come forward and kneel and make a gift to finish strong in their current year giving toward the church and make a commitment to give back a portion of God’s blessings in the year to come. It’s a powerful moment to see hundreds of households come forward and kneel and pray.
When it was our family’s turn, all four of us knelt and prayed and praised the Lord for his mercy toward our family these past 12 months and desperately asked God to be with us in the next 12 months. I find that I pray for God to protect us and prosper us almost constantly now; I am under no illusions regarding my utter dependence on the grace of God.
The day before we were kneeling at the rail, we’d picked out a Christmas tree and were decorating it: my wife–completely healed–perched on a ladder stringing lights, and our little baby chirping and squeaking and scuttling underfoot like some kind of huge, curious, terrestrial crab.
As I look back over these past 12 months, I am overwhelmed: God has been so good to us.
A few weeks ago, Elaine and I made a brief video about some things we learned while she was in the hospital. Afterwards, of course, we thought of things we’d wished we said or said in a different way, and we share these thoughts humbly, knowing that this is our story, and your stories are different. Even so, we’ve seen the faithfulness of God firsthand and we feel as if we’re supposed to tell other people about it.
One day, of course, death will come for one or both us, and for everyone we love. Maybe I will die first and leave Elaine behind, or maybe she will die first and leave me behind. But, even when that day comes, God is faithful, and Jesus is risen, so the words the angels shared with the shepherds are still meant for us today:
Do not be afraid.