It has been nearly 20 years since my book, “Given In Love But Not Mine To Keep” was published in 1995 about losing our first child, Joseph, shortly after his birth at five days old. I have found time has been kind, which surprises me. For many years, I was convinced time was the enemy that served only to erode my memory of details. But time has given Joe over to me again and again as an amazing blessing while the years have rolled on. I’ve gained a little wisdom and understanding from the Lord in all this and what good is wisdom when not shared?
Anger has totally given way. It sincerely astounds me. No bitterness remains.
I examine what has grown in its place. Or rather, who has grown in HIS place: Nina and Emma. These two young women who, although I know are far from perfect and have their own matters to work out as they make their way, have literally been God’s love exemplified to me. When Joe was born and died, in essence, God said, “No.” to me; with Nina and Emma, His answer was, “Yes!” Did I see that the moment they were born? Somewhat, but not fully. Did I see it when they were three? Usually not. Did I see it when they were 16? Most definitely not! But it’s very clear to me now that they are both nearly grown. These young women in Christ who are seeking to know Him and desire Him to be the ultimate love relationship in their lives. That brings me joy that I cannot describe and it brings me peace that makes enduring the hard years of only hearing “No.” so worthwhile.
Dr. Tim Keller has a great sermon entitled, “The Gospel and Idolatry”, in which he talks about having personal idols in our lives such as money, relationships, or children. And when we make these things not just a good thing but an ultimate thing, it becomes a problem for us, especially if we are believers. We can have only one ultimate thing in our life and that is Christ. When other things begin to over take that throne, the balance is off and we have begun to look to something or someone else to give us only what God can.
Now all these years later after losing Joe, I understand that principle so profoundly. Although I love my husband and my girls, they do not sit on the throne of my heart. They are not my ultimate love relationship. I cannot be justified through them. They did not and cannot redeem me. And I can only love and serve them best by loving the Lord as I should. Because of Joe, I learned I can not clutch so tightly onto these key relationships in my life. I cannot make them idols in my life. That isn’t God’s best plan for me and I would be decreasing the opportunities for the Lord to bless me by doing that.
Never would I have thought all those years ago that I would look back with a heart full of joy, see the blessings, and be grateful for the lessons learned and that they could be so useful and illuminating. Never would I have thought…but my mind is small. My imagination, as great as I think it might be, is non-existent when compared to the plans and imagination of God. Lovely joy. Such deep blessings.