Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Micah

Today, Micah, you turn one.
Happy Birthday, little son,
for whom eternal and infinite joy have just begun.
Oh how we wish we could see you,
Oh how we wish that we could get a Skype call through.

To see you on Jesus’ knee, listening to His stories patiently.
To see you smiling, crawling, baby talking and perhaps even walking.
To see you with Jesus, family and other new friends,
Traveling through majestic valleys and beholding beauty without end.

To hear you, in Heaven, let out your big laugh
Like you did when your mommy gave you a bath
Or to hear your little voice, jabbering and singing
Oh, what great praises to Jesus you must now be bringing

Oh, how I long to feel your little hands grasp around my finger
Or to lay down and snuggle together—and to just linger
In the unspoken bond of a father’s love for his son
To somehow believe again that our time together on earth had just begun

Our love for you is so great, so complete,
that our hurt seems without end.
Our wound of grief will never fully mend.
While we are back to life again, it has been quite a feat
And on some days, with some people, all we can do is pretend
Surely, without Jesus, we would face this life in defeat.

For you, Micah, Heaven is a place does not have to undo
All the garbage that us “adults” put ourselves through
For you, pain, grief and sin
are distant memories, never to be encountered again.

And so we ask the Lord to free us from the fears
of so many birthdays missing you-- of so many tears.
October 30th is, out of all of our days, a day to treasure.
To remember God’s grace to us, truly beyond measure.

To help us look forward to seeing you at that Great Reunion.
But until then, keep us focused, lest there be any confusion--
That our lives are but mist, and His, not mine.
To be filled with less banality, and more divine
That until that day we be trusting, faithful and brave.
When we, at last, will see you give us your little wave.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Glimpse of Joy- From Heather

Ever since Micah’s death, Cory and I have been crying out to God and seeking His direction for our future. We have struggled with finding joy and seeing God’s goodness through all of this horrific pain and suffering. The only thing that Cory and I could imagine that would bring joy back in our lives would be to have more children.

God is good. God has been listening to our cries and prayers for our future. We recently found out that we are expecting our second child. It has been quite a surprise to both of us as we anticipated another long journey of miscarriages and infertility.

We found out that I was pregnant a day after one of our worse days of grieving Micah. I was feeling like there was no hope and no reason to continue on in this painful world. I cried out to God to take me home to be with Micah. I also cried out with anger toward God questioning his goodness. Cory remembers me asking angrily, “God, why are you so mean to me? ” and “Why have you taken all of my joy away?”

The day that I found out I was pregnant, God’s goodness was evident to me. I was both guarded, emotionally, as well as surprised. I knew that this was God’s way of clearly showing me that “joy will come in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). I continue to struggle with a rollercoaster of emotions: from the grief of missing Micah and knowing that Micah will not be here with us to meet his new sister or brother, to the terror of the possibility of losing another child, to the thrill that we will have more children. Despite all of the feelings, I see a glimmer of hope to continue on living. I know that Micah would want us to trust in God’s plans for our future.

Two weeks ago, as I was getting ready for my 8-week ultrasound to see the baby’s heartbeat, I opened up my daily devotional reading. It was no coincidence that the verse for that particular day’s devotional reading was from Philippians 4:6, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. I have clearly heard God’s voice during these past several weeks. He has called me to trust Him and to give all of my fears and anxiety over to Him. I continue to pray that God will give me peace in trusting in his promises for my life and our future family.

I continue to mourn and grieve Micah’s loss each day. My pregnancy does not lift my heavy heart. My pregnancy has, however, given me a glimpse of joy and hope to go on living—to wait patiently until God takes me home, when I come face to face with Jesus and my precious son, Micah. Oh, how we long for that great reunion!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jeremiah 29:11

In our house we have a picture frame with a few verses and several pictures from our wedding day. One of the verses in the picture frame is Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV) Other translations of this verse say that the Lord promises “to prosper you and not to harm you.” (NIV)

It seems that this verse is often used in the context of peace, prosperity and happiness (such as at our wedding). But the context of this verse suggests that the verse is more applicable to our situation now, following Micah’s death.

The book of Jeremiah is about God’s calling the nation of Israel away from its idolatrous ways. Despite the repeated efforts by the prophet Jeremiah to call the nation back to God, the nation trusted in its own strength. Jeremiah prophesied that the nation would eventually come to ruin. Indeed, we see that the nation was eventually destroyed, and much of the nation taken into captivity. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus says the Lord, a voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

Before Micah died, I would have told you that I don’t believe in the so-called “prosperity gospel,” the idea that those of us who are followers of Christ are not only spiritually blessed by reason of our being Christ’s disciples, but financially blessed as well. But as I reflect upon my own heart, I realize that there has been this sense that I have been waiting for “my ship to come in.” If God is in control of our universe, and if I seek to magnify him above all else, why wouldn’t he want to prosper us? Why wouldn’t he want to give us many healthy children? We wouldn’t he give us the desires of our hearts?

But God has made it abundantly clear that he is not prospering us, as we think of the term “prospering.” Our lives are living proof of the bankruptcy of the prosperity gospel as a human-centered misinterpretation of what it means for God to “prosper us.”

The promise given to the nation of Israel in 29:11 is equally true for us today. As the nation of Israel can attest to, it was not a promise that members of that nation would not go through pestilence, famine, war, enslavement and death. But God promised that He would comfort them through His new covenant with them (Jeremiah 31:31). Jeremiah 31:13 says, “I will turn their mourning into joy—I will comfort and give them gladness for sorrow.”As it relates to my relationship with Micah—there is now no joy, and there can be no joy, on this side of eternity. My only hope for the prosperity promised by the words of the prophet Jeremiah is to wake on the mourning of that eternal day to the faces of my Savior and my son. After our long night of weeping is over, joy will at last come in the morning. Psalm 30:5.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who Do I Love More?

C.S. Lewis lost his wife only a few years after they were married. Lewis struggled with how the Lord called him to love the Lord even through his suffering. “Lord, are these your real terms? Can I meet [my wife] again only if I learn to love you so much that I don’t care whether I meet her or not?” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, P.79-80.

In Grief Observed, Lewis questions the sincerity of his faith before his wife died. Similarly, I have asked myself this same question: Before Micah died, did I really believe it, or was I just pretending? The stakes seem so much higher now following Micah’s death. I can’t skate along in an easy, comfortable “Christian” life any longer. The love I have for my son Micah is immeasurable, and my grief now seems boundless. Yet despite this seemingly boundless grief, or in the face of it, God has sustained us. I am so grateful for the ability, from God, to sing praises to God following Micah’s death. God has given us strength to love Him even during these times when our love for Micah felt so near and our love for God felt so distant.

Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37. While Jesus is not calling us to “hate” our children, He is calling us to “count the cost” of following Him. There are many ways in which Christians “count the cost” of being a disciple of Jesus. In each way, God calls us to love Him more than any gifts he gives.

For me, to count the cost is to give up my hope for Micah’s future—what I had considered Micah’s entitlements to health, a long life, and a lot of love. It is loving Jesus even though it was Jesus who took Micah away from us so suddenly, so unexpectedly. It is treasuring God’s purposes for Micah above my own—however laudable those purposes were. It is trusting in God’s promises of Micah’s eternal salvation with Jesus even as his little (physical) body now lies in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

God’s sustaining power in our lives over the past 3 months is evidence that He has given us a greater love for Him. If I focus solely on MY love for MY son, and what happened to MY son, I become bitter and angry. We feel sorry for ourselves. But if I lose my “self” and focus on Jesus, on His plan for my life and His goodness towards Micah, I have an eternal perspective which frees me from my anger, bitterness and self-pity. If I give up Micah to Jesus, receive Jesus now, then at some later date will I not only get Jesus, but I’ll get Micah as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Front Door

I thought I was a going to be a good dad. I planned to do all I could to help my son to become the Man of God I prayed he would become. During his short life, my son loved to get in the pool or the lake and make swimming-like motions with his arms and legs. When I took Micah in the water, I made sure that I would keep his head well above water so that there was no chance of his coughing in water. I loved to take Micah in our running stroller. I made sure that he was properly strapped into the stroller, and that I had a safety strap around my wrist so that, even if I should trip and fall, my son would be safe.

I envisioned a future in which I would help Micah with his homework. Fix his broken bike. Help him with relationship problems or college decisions, financial matters or employment. I wanted to be the “fix-it” man for my son.But on that Sunday morning, July 26th, 2009, I learned that I am absolutely powerless, on my own, to carry out my dream of being the “fix it” man for Micah.

After running an errand to Target that morning, I returned home to find my wife giving mouth-to-mouth to my unconscious son. Just as I began assisting Heather, the medics arrived. It all happened so fast. In that whirlwind of activity, all of my strength, my knowledge, my love for my son didn’t make a difference. My memories of those moments are filled with terror and disbelief. I remember watching with absolute helplessness as our son passed away, 80 plus years before “his time.”

After a half hour of failing to resuscitate my son, it was determined that Micah should be rushed to the Children’s Hospital. Wanting to help, I found myself doing the only thing I could—holding the door for my son who, along with those paramedics, left our house, never to return. Whatever sense of control , strength and self-reliance I had went out that door along with my son.