Sunday, December 16

December 16, 1996

That is the date of my baby brother's birthday. And I realize that most of you don't know that I have a baby brother, which means you also don't know my story. So I'm going to tell it to you. :)

I was born in 1983, to Christian parents and three older siblings. I had a good childhood, as much as I can remember (and I have a terrible memory). But I knew that I was loved, I knew about God, and I knew that I was a sinner. When I was eight, and on the way to Disney World, I asked my dad how I could avoid hell, and he explained about asking Jesus to save me, so I did. I didn't understand at that point that faith also requires a repentance.

Fast forward a few years. One afternoon my Mom and Dad sat us four kids down, turned on the video camera to tape our reactions - to what, we weren't sure. (The last time they did that we got a dog. Was it another dog?) No; they shocked us with the news that they were pregnant! My sister started screaming, I started crying, Matt was grinning, and Josiah was calculating how old my parents would be by the time the baby was his age. (The answer was 63.)

After getting over the shock that I would be 13 years older than my sibling and would no longer be the youngest, I was excited. I was convinced it was a girl (I am ALWAYS wrong, by the way.) Our family life seemed to continue as normal. That September, I went to a See You At The Pole rally, and the Lord really caught my heart. I heard a speech about how most people who go to church are like gas fireplaces - they look the part, they even put off some heat, but they are not really burning. Real believers are on fire- consumed, given up, and totally surrendered. The imagery sunk into my almost 13 year old mind and the Holy Spirit convicted me that I had never understood repentance. I had "trusted" Jesus to get me to Heaven but I did so while still clinging to my own will and my own sin. I didn't understand that to have faith in Jesus, you have to recognize your inability to save yourself by good deeds, and must turn from sin - throwing yourself wholly upon His grace and Christ's atoning work on the cross. That night I prayed, and I now believe it's the true moment of my salvation.

In November, a few days before my birthday, we went for a sonogram. The ultrasound technology had just come on the scene, and most places were giving free ones to help the techs learn. So Mom, Autumn and I decided to make a day of it and find out the gender of the baby. None of the black and white on the screen made any sense to us, but afterwards the ushered us into a nice room with cokes and cookies. Mom said nervously, "Something must be wrong, they're treating us so nicely." They had called mom's midwife, and over the phone my Mom received the news that no mother should ever hear: something was wrong with the baby.

The next day Mom and Dad went and had more tests done, and the doctors confirmed that the baby boy had a chromosomal abnormality- achondroplasia - commonly known as dwarfism. His was a unique type, and would not allow the baby to live outside the womb. His chest cavity was too small, and his lungs had no room to develop. In order for him to live, he would have to stay on a plethora of machines and the quality of life would be minimal, at best.

This news rocked our family. I honestly can't remember details, or how my siblings or parents were processing this. I was just 13, you see. And my inexperienced heart could only see a massive problem called Death on the horizon, and my newfound zeal for the Lord was just SURE He wouldn't allow it to cover us. I prayed, and hoped, and refused to think the worst. I was sure my God would come through, and I would be proven right.

We had Christopher James at a birth center in Dallas, induced early to keep Mom safe. She was a brave, brave woman as she labored. It took a long time, and we were about to head to the hospital when out came Christoper. My sister and I were the first to see him, and the moment I did I knew the Lord had denied my request. He lived for a half hour or so, and we spent the time holding and kissing his precious face.

After Christopher went to the Lord, I had no idea what to do with this God I had trusted. I had prayed; why hadn't He answered? I had cried; didn't He care? Was I wrong to desire life for my baby brother? And so I wrapped my grief around me like a cloak, separating myself from my family and friends and from the Lord. I thought all of life was a joke, and Christianity was a bubble that would someday be burst for everyone I knew. I was the wiser. I would not be fooled again.

Because I didn't want people to know how I was really doing, I kept going to church and being involved in youth group. I ended up going on a mission trip that summer, and the Lord changed my heart yet again. I realized that all of my anger and bitterness was just a broken heart that felt wounded by the Lord. I realized my own audacity to assume that my will was better than His. I realized that what I had thought I understood about His love was incomplete. In my mind, a loving God would only do what was pleasing to me. He would never allow pain or hardship or death or suffering. He would make my life as comfortable as I wanted it to be. That summer night as I cried to Debi, the Lord showed me how small I had made HIM, and how big I had made myself. That day, the Lord proved Himself to be a true, loving and GOOD God. This fact --His goodness-- is the anchor of my soul. It was this moment that prepared me for October 20, 2010.

Today I was reflecting on what life would've been like had Christopher lived. I've been wondering whether or not he was there to greet Gwendolyn when she went from my arms to the Lord's. I really believe that the Lord gives each life a purpose - however short or long. And today I wondered, what was Christopher's purpose? And the Lord reminded me of how He changed my life because of my brother.

So I'm remembering you today, brother, and longing for the Day when I will see your bright eyes and know you. Have fun with Gwenny. Remind her how much I love her, and how much I love our Jesus for saving us both.

Lord, thank you for saving me. Thank you for showing me my own rebellion and sinfulness against you, a Holy God. Thank you for doing what I never could by giving up your precious Son to cover over my offenses, and securing my soul in Heaven for all eternity. Thank you that Christopher and Gwendolyn are real, are alive, and are waiting for us. Thank you for hope. 

1 comment:

  1. I knew part of the story but not the whole thing. Thank you for sharing, Erin! Miss you.