"Conversations from a Birthing Room"


writes . . . A precious baby is entering the world today. As we watch the contractions on the monitor, the birthing room fills with grandparents, aunts and uncles; everyone coming with anticipation to greet the newest member of their family. Yet, the conversation I have with my friends, the expectant parents, is quite different than any other. To understand, you need to know more.

Not long ago, friends and family gathered at this same hospital to welcome Kade - see sweet Kade on the left. Last summer, on August 28th, Kade entered this world. Sadly on October 28th, at just two months of age, Kade slipped into eternity in his sleep – cause of death: SIDS.

His parents have deep faith in God, and continue to trust Him with this loss. All the same, their faith does not lessen their sorrow. They still grieve . . . they grieve with hope – a hope of that blessed reunion when they will hold dear sweet Kade once again.

Just before Christmas, my dear friend discovered she was expecting again. In fact, she was already about 10 weeks along. Calculations indicate that she actually conceived this baby the week before Kade’s death.

And therein lies some of the tension in Kade’s story. I have heard her lament – “If you wanted me to have a baby, God, why would you take my sweet Kade, only to give me another one?”

These questions of “why” – so much a part of one’s grief journey – often do not have an answer. They are questions that express our deepest longing for understanding, for meaning, for some way of knowing – "How do I go on living with this tremendous burden of loss?"

So this morning in the birthing room, amid the contractions and medical personnel, we talk about Kade and sorrow and Gethsemane. We talk about our theology of grief – what is God like and what does God do in times of loss. We remember David’s Psalms of Lament. We talk about the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus’ death. It is truly an example of lament. When the reality of the loss became clear to him, Jesus enters Gethsemane deeply grieved. There in


, the Hebrew word meaning

olive press

, Jesus utters his prayers of protest, that his life will be crushed under the burden of sin. There Jesus climbs into the lap of Abba Father and pleads for this cup of death to pass from him. In fact, three times Jesus brings his pain to God, and then finally rests in submission to the Father’s plan – a plan that will glorify God and draw people to Him.

Today is not a redemptive moment because there is another birth in the family. Today does not redeem the loss of precious Kade. No, the Redemptive Steps came months ago. When Kade died, there was the potential for his parents to be destroyed by his loss. But they are choosing daily to be transformed by it. By God’s grace and mercy, Kade’s parents choose to rest in the everlasting arms of God, to trust Him with this loss and in the process, their lives glorify God and draw others to His Kingdom.

Revelation 21:3-5 promises: And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new," and He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."

Post Script: At approximately 3:30 pm this afternoon, Kade’s little sister, Tori Ann, came into this world.

"And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead." - Hebrews 11:4b

I am one of five, four brothers and one sister. Here's a picture of three of the brothers. Yes, I am the little guy sitting on the crossbar of my oldest brother's bike.  Jerry was thoughtful enough to provide me with a blanket to sit on. It was probably my na-na.

None-the-less, I want to talk about Marshall, the brother in the forefront. Marshall is a very important person to me. Marshall led me to my first concepts of God and in a way . . . he led me to Jesus when I was seven years old. That doesn't sound too strange until I tell that Marshall died when I was just under two years of age. He was almost five when he died. Yes, I did say he led me to Jesus when I was seven.

You see, through the years, I visited Marshall's grave many times with my bereaved mother. One time I started asking myself questions about eternity. Where was Marshall? And the bigger question for a seven year old - Where will I be when I die? Talk about coming face to face with death.

I grew up in a house of grief and I seem to understand the verse that says, "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure." Was I wise at such a young age? I don't know, but I am thankful for the questions I struggled with at my brother's graveside. Why? Because the redemptive value in my brother's death was the very fact that through my brother my heart was touched in such a way that made me ask the hard questions.  The answers would change my life forever. Was death the end?

Thank God my mother took me to church. One day my Sunday School teacher (Thank God for SS teachers!) told the class of boys about Jesus and eternal life. This was the information that I was looking for - talk about good news. This was the gospel! God's gospel for me! This is what Marshall was showing me. You see, he led me to this point as the destination of all those countless times I visited his grave and stared down at his grave marker with so many deep questions. Marshall, though he was dead, spoke to my heart and led me to my Savior and Lord.

Is there redemptive value in the death of a child? I have to say yes. God works with us in all situations to bring good - even in a situation like Marshall's.

Oh, my dear brother, I had to say goodbye before I even said hello! Marshall, how sweet the reunion will be!

Hope that Redeems!

Bonnie and I went to Israel about a year after Scott died. Our most meaningful experience was our visit to the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. I never realized just how much we would be impacted by that spot.

Before we left for the trip, I asked God to show me hope while I was in Israel. God gave me a theme verse for the tour: Hebrews 6: 19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

As an answer to my prayer, God showed me hope.

When we were at the Garden Tomb site, an older English gentleman gave us a tour. He lectured on the significance of certain artifacts in the area of the tomb. As we listened, our small group of friends stood in front of Jesus' empty tomb carved out of rock.

The Englishman told us, “While we cannot know for certain that the Garden Tomb was in fact the very tomb where Jesus was buried, we have found many Jewish and Christian symbols in the area.” He turned our attention to the outside wall of the tomb and started to trace a carving with his finger and said, “For instance, carved in this wall is an early Christian symbol of an . . . anchor.”

I don’t think I heard anything else he said. There was the answer to my prayer! God showed me a symbol of hope – an anchor carved into the side of the tomb of Jesus. This was my symbol of hope. The tomb is empty! Death is not the end! There is hope in Jesus Christ and His empty tomb proves it. This is my anchor of hope!

Searching for a redemptive moment . . .

"Children's children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children."
Proverbs 17:6

Searching for a redemptive moment is a precious and yet seemingly a futile activity when looking at my 88 year-old mother's health fading away. Even so, with eighty years between them, this picture of my now frequently-dozing mother with her loving great granddaughter, Kaitlyn, captures one of those moments. When confronted with the reality of pending death, it is good to remember there are moments to celebrate, meaningful memories to make, hurts that can be healed, and a great sense of God's grace. It is good to trust in Christ - and where else would we go?

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
John 6:68

The Christmas Redemptive Love Story

The essence of the Christmas redemptive love story is not difficult to find. These are the words of Christ speaking of himself. "For God so loved the world that he gave . . ." You see, love initiates. Love takes action. God gave his son, a babe born in Bethlehem who 33 years later died on a Cross, "his one and only Son." Why? "that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Love redeems what was lost . . . our life-lost to our life-eternal.

However, a redemptive love involves sacrifice - and Jesus takes us to a higher level of sacrificial giving for the sake of a redemptive love. Jesus taught, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Certainly, at the cross Jesus practiced what he preached. But he also taught us to love our enemies. Would we lay down our life for an enemy? Amazingly, Jesus died for his enemies and not just his friends. Sounds treasonous, doesn't it? Talk about aiding the enemy! But that is exactly what he did.

In fact, Jesus went against the popular thought of his time. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies . . ." Christmas, when God invaded our world, and the Cross, when love was demonstrated, prove that God loves his enemies.

And guess what? We are his enemies! "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. [That's us along with the worst the world holds in contempt!]

[Now check this out.] Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. [Yes, it could happen. But now look . . .] But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!

For if, [here it is . . .] when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

[But wait, there is more . . .] Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

The greatest redemptive love story ever told was when someone died for his enemy. What a rare story that is . . . but Jesus did exactly that on the cross. The greatest love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his enemies. Merry Christmas!