December is a very busy, and somewhat expensive, month for our family. Traci and I were married on December 28th. I have two nieces and a nephew who have December birthdays. My Mother-in-law has a December birthday. BJ was born on December 6th and then, in 2005, Celina (CJ) was born on December 20th. And, of course, the celebration of Jesus’ birth occurs every year on December 25th.
CJ was our surprise baby. Traci and I had been talking about maybe adding a third little monster to the mix, so the day Traci realized she was pregnant we were excited to round out our family to three children. At about 8 weeks pregnant we expected our final Alphabet (Aj, Bj, Cj) to be born mid-January, and the doctor set January 19th as the official delivery date.
When December of 2005 rolled around, we started in on the family celebrations. First BJ’s birthday, then my Mother-in-law’s birthday and then we head to my first nieces birthday (my nephew hadn’t been born yet) . That’s when life got a little crazy. We went to bed on December 19th and Traci got up in the middle of the night having some pretty strong contractions. She tried moving around, tried getting more comfortable upright in the living room, but nothing seemed to work, and the contractions were getting stronger.
She finally woke me up around 7am and said, “I’m pretty sure this baby is coming today.” Since Traci had already experienced two other births, I didn’t question her mom-sense, but I did have a moment of brief panic. We hadn’t packed the hospital bag yet. We had just asked someone to be “on call” in case she came in the night and we needed someone to watch AJ & BJ, but that was it. So I made the call to Michelle and asked her to boogie over to the house while I scramble to get a bag packed. In about 30 minutes we were off to the hospital (a 7-minute drive from our house) and shortly after we were in the new birthing wing preparing for another long day of labor.
CJ was 30 days early, but she wasn’t particularly eager to emerge. She like the concept of being born, she just didn’t like the process! Traci spent 12 hours in pretty hard labor and finally experienced the joy of holding a new born child a few minutes after 7pm on December 20th. At 6.5 lbs she hardly seemed to fit the “premie” term the staff used to describe her. She was a beautiful baby.
The problem with making an early appearance, is that not everything is full developed inside the baby. For CJ, this meant that her lungs had not fully grown. We were released from the hospital on a normal schedule (2 days after birth) but then had to return a couple of days after Christmas because of Jaundice and some breathing concerns. Again we headed home.
A couple of weeks into January, I was doing some counseling at church, when my cell phone rang. It was Traci. Over the years I have committed to answer the phone when she calls, but on the rare occasion I can’t step out of a meeting or I’m in a significant conversation, I let ring. For Traci, if it’s an emergency or she really needs to chat with me quick, she calls right back and that double ring is my signal that she needs a quick call.
The phone rang a second time and I excused myself from my counseling session. Traci had taken CJ in for a visit and the doctor had listened to her breathing carefully. Because of her underdeveloped lungs, he had been paying extra close attention to how she was breathing. During the visit, he rolled his chair over to Traci, and with great calmness yet urgency, he said, “Traci, I need you to take Celina to the hospital immediately. I want you to go to ER and I’ll call ahead and make sure they are ready. This is serious, but we’ve caught it and everything should be ok.” Traci was calling me on her way to the hospital.
I excused myself from my counseling session and then headed downtown to meet her and CJ. My mind was racing and I knew that this situation was serious. When I found them, several tests had already been performed and CJ was being placed in an oxygen bed and having several IV’s put in. She would be spending the next couple of days in the NICU.
That night, as doctors were trying to resolve her breathing issues, I spent the night with Celina. One of the doctors had “that look” that told me this thing was pretty serious and the concern on his face gave me ample reason to be worried. I remember picking up CJ for a brief break from the oxygen bed, holding her in my arms while we walked around the room. And I had that thought of despair: “What if God takes her from us?”
That question hit me like a ton of bricks, turned my stomach inside out and brought some tears to my eyes. What if God wanted to take CJ home? What if we were only given the privilege of knowing her a month? What if God wanted to walk us thru this dark passage of life in order to show Himself faithful to us, even in the deepest moments of grief? What if?
That moment in the hospital was a moment of decision for me. As I talked to my sweet baby girl and placed her back in her bed, I told the Lord I would trust Him, even if His plans included taking CJ away from us. I told Him I’d be devastated and angry, but I committed, that I would trust Him. I didn’t try to bribe God that night (which I certainly have tried before), and I didn’t hinge my trust on whether or not he would save her life (if you save her, I will trust you) but instead, clinging to the truth of Scripture that my path has been ordered by God, I chose to trust Him.
I slept better than average that night in the hospital and the next night Traci stayed with CJ. Two nights later, we took her home and our little Celina is now 8-years-old and healthy. She is a joy to our family.
Have you ever had those moments where you had to make a decision about trusting God? I wish you could make that decisions once and it would be just be done for life, but the reality is that life will present many opportunities for that faith to be trusted, and more than once I’ve had to recommit my faith to God. And that’s not because He has changed, but because I waiver.
Is Psalm 37:5 David writes about trusting God. Look at verses 5 and 6 from The Message:
Open up before God, keep nothing back;
He’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.
I love that phrase, “Keep nothing back.” Several other translations say, “Trust in Him” and that’s exactly what faith is: Trusting in God with everything, holding nothing back…not even your newborn baby. And we can trust Him because He will do what needs to be done. God will always choose the best path for us! It may not be easiest path, the shortest path, the flattest path or the brightest path, but He will always choose the best path for you and me.
What are you facing today? Do you need to renew your commitment to trust the Lord with your path? Are you overwhelmed? Are you in despair? Are you experiencing grief? Has worry become a close companion? Are you hurt, angry or just plain exhausted with life? Let me urge you to take David’s advice:
* Open up before God, and tell Him what’s on your heart
* Then hold nothing back and put your trust in His work
God will do what needs to be done, and He will ultimately do what’s right and best for you. Will you trust Him today?
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water.