It has been a whole month since we’ve had our miracle baby.
This little muffin who has impacted our lives and the lives of countless others for months before she was born, is now here in the flesh and doing all the wonderful things babies should do: eat, sleep and poop. Perfect.
I never thought I’d be so glad to get woken up six times at night to be an on-call chef or a professional tush-wiper. But every night as Phoebe’s cries wake me from the ever-coveted slumber, I, albeit groggily, do my jobs with a grateful heart.
There is nothing like the sweet sound of a newborn’s cry when you’ve been told you wouldn’t hear one. Phoebe’s cry is so beautiful to me. That may change as she gets older and louder and more demanding, but for now it’s ironically comforting.
Many, many times I find myself tracing the outline of her face, burying my nose into that nook between her neck and hair and just smelling her special baby smell. Sometimes my eyes fill with tears of gratitude for her, then I see my other 5 kids and the tears flow more quickly at the sheer knowledge that I, we, have been entrusted with the job of caring for and raising six beautiful kids, none of which we deserve. I mean, I got fired from babysitting at 14 for talking on the phone instead of playing with the kids… yet here I am now, with a volleyball team of a brood under my care. It’s humbling and terrifying and amazing all at once.
Many times in life I’ve been given jobs WAY out of my scope of talent or skill. Raising kids has definitely been one of them.
Has that happened to you? Have you ever been given a task that you were certain you couldn’t do but someone else thought you could?
What were the things that helped you succeed in accomplishing that task? For me it’s been many things, but most of all 1) asking for help, 2) getting equipped and 3) checking in with the boss… a LOT.
The apostle Paul describes life as a race, and a long one at that. There are times that we run, times when we walk and others when we can barely crawl toward the finish line. But when we keep our eyes focused on the joy at the end… mmmm-mmmmm! That’s where our God is. He’s the one who knows what’s on the other side of the hurdle and the best way to get us over it. We NEED to invite Him in and on our journey because He’s what keeps us going!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the JOY set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not lose heart.” –Hebrews 12:1-3
We know that none of us will escape life without hardship. Not a single person in all of history has had it “easy” all of the time. So if you knew you’d be facing something really hard, wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with people who could help you through it and lighten the load a bit? If you knew you were going to to face something major… job loss, illness of yourself or a loved one, financial ruin or something else… wouldn’t you want to equip yourself with all the tools necessary to help your mind, body and spirit press on and not be “squished” by the overwhelming nature of the burden? If you KNEW you had direct access to the ONE person who could help you succeed, wouldn’t you want to build on that relationship?
Jesus did that! In looking at His life, He surrounded Himself with a core group of beloved friends in the form of the disciples. Those friends stood by Him thick and thin and offered great encouragement for the three years they spent together. A few of them were a bit zealous (ahem, Peter and the ear thing… John 18:10) and also screwed up (again, Peter… the rooster, see Matthew 26), but they encouraged and loved Jesus.
Jesus was FULLY EQUIPPED for the journey set before Him. He knew Scripture in and out, up and down, backward and forward. He armed Himself well. When He was tested in the desert by Satan himself (Matthew 4:1-11), Jesus was able to resist all the temptations and combat false accusations because Jesus KNEW the character of God (it helped that He IS God, but He was also fully man and felt the depths that temptation can take us to). He had studied Scriptures. We are called to do the same thing: “Put on the FULL ARMOR OF GOD so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (see Ephesians 6:10-18).
Jesus was also in constant communication with His Father in heaven. All throughout the New Testament we see Jesus wandering off to pray. That was and still is the way we get personal access to the Creator of the Universe. Each of us has a direct line to Him… all we have to do is pray… to talk with God. Not just when we need stuff, but when we’re excited, scared, rejoicing, thankful… anything. Prayer doesn’t have to be stuffy and filled with “thee’s and thou’s” either. God just wants us to call out to Him and share our hearts with Him; to invite Him in to our lives.
Because here’s the thing: Life. Life is inevitably going to have times when stuff happens that can make it seem unbearably difficult and long and drawn out and just exhausting. We NEED the hope that only Jesus can provide; that hope that says “there is more than just this”. Because there is!
During the first half of the pregnancy with Phoebe I just wanted it to end. Not her to end, but the unknowns of what was coming and the anticipation of heartache and all the other stuff that weighed SO HEAVILY on my heart even when I wasn’t thinking about it. Those? I craved for those to be over. Every moment when the child you’re carrying in your womb has been given a death sentence is just awful because you don’t know when the “inevitable” will come to fruition and an immeasurable pain will begin.
So during that time I knew that I had to build up my reserves. I had to press deeply into my friendships and rely on them for emotional strength. I had to press deeply into the Word of God because I needed to know down to the core of my bones that He is in fact good in spite of what the prognosis was. I had to plead with God for strength and help and to just cry with Him when the feelings of my heart couldn’t be formed into words.
I can say with confidence that I could not have made it through the first half of the pregnancy had I not done those things. And God? He made Himself known to me in ways I never ever hoped or even imagined possible. Again.
You see, our Phoebe, is just one of the many mile markers of God’s joining us in the race of our lives. She is a tangible, kissable and snugable reminder to us of why it’s so important to keep running the race….
Because God hears. And if He hears, He is real. And if He is real, what He says in His word is what He wants of and for us… He wants our love for Him because He loves us and is cheering us on as only a perfect Father can, through each of the twists and turns, peaks and valleys of our life’s race.
Perhaps you’re in a place where the race is just too much. You want to quit. You want to lie down on the side of the road and just stop running. I plead with you, reach out to someone else who is running. Surround yourself with those who can help you up and walk with you until you can run. Fuel yourself with God’s Word. There is no substitute. Call out to Him. He is already cheering you on!