Story - Sarah G. - as written by Jason Granger
I'm a dad! If you know me, I'm sure you can hear the smile on my face.
I could certainly write a few stories from my perspective as a soon-to-be dad and even now as a father, but I'd rather begin this story of parenthood by telling you Sarah's story.
Sarah and I are planners - that we have in common. However, we certainly differ in our approach to plan. I usually begin with predetermined expectations, perhaps from my childhood or some passing idea I've had. Sarah, however, begins promptly with the research. In the face of any big decision or life-change, Sarah does the research to find out how this certain event has happened for others. From that, she'll determine her expectations and her decisions.
Now while we are planners, I want to assure you that this pregnancy has been a faith journey - for Sarah specifically. She wanted this pregnancy to be a faith journey. God's plan for childbirth was her one desire and expectation. She understood that God's plan is the only expectation we can have that gives us access to an infinite number of secure possibilities. Clearly, as someone who holds fast to predetermined expectations, I am not the hero of this story. Heroes rarely begin a journey with such finite expectations.
Sarah trusted God. But she did her part. Trusting God does not relieve us of the responsibility of faith which is displayed through works. She read blogs, studied books. We even attended a series of classes. And she began most mornings in prayer over our son. By reading and meditating on relevant scriptures, as well as listening to worship music, Sarah's hope was to condition her mind and spirit to stay in God, never losing trust or confidence. She knew that by trusting God through the 9 months of pregnancy and the prospect of labor, her expectations were rooted more in Him than a series of events, preferences or circumstances. This work of faith certainly did condition her for pregnancy marked by its various changes, but it came alive for her during the labor and first few days as a mother.
Sometimes we can't control or plan our circumstances. But often we can by simply being prepared for the inevitable. Thanks to Sarah's research and planning, our bags - full of the necessities, as well as a few LED candles, a speaker with a playlist full of worship music, and a printout of scriptures related to childbirth, fear, pain and confidence - had already been packed for a week or so before our due date. Labor started around 1 o'clock the day after our due date in front of a room full of 1st graders learning to play the violin. Typical Sarah. And while our nerves were running a bit high as we made our way from the school to home and then to the hospital, we weren't fearful at all. By 6PM we were settled into the delivery room and the final stretch of our journey began. Throughout the night, we prayed, read scriptures and listened to worship music.
Once the time came for delivery around 2AM, It is Well by Bethel was on repeat. And because of God's faithfulness to Sarah's faith, Jack Emerson made his arrival through an unmedicated, supernatural childbirth. (Again, you should hear me smiling.)
That seems simple. Yes - but. Yes, but our faith is meant to be tested. James 1:3-4 reminds us that it is the testing of our faith that produces steadfastness and consistency, which in its full effect makes us perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Close to 12 hours after our son was born, he was admitted to the NICU for a minimum of 7 days for erratic breathing and a possible infection in his bloodstream. The whole ordeal seemed to happen suddenly. The pediatrician came to our room a few hours later to assure us that he was just playing it safe, but even playing it safe can sound like worse-case-scenario when we fail to trust God. By that evening, after hours away from our son, we were allowed into the NICU.
Surrounded by nurses charged with the care of children born prematurely but protected by machines whirring loudly between beeps under hard fluorescent lights, tangled in the wires and tubes coming from her son who seemed to be fine in this moment, Sarah was being tested. Did she still believe that God is for her, that no harm or disease would come to those who find shelter in Him? All she could do was sing. As she held her son, she quietly began to sing It is Well.
Through it all, through it all
my eyes are on You
and through it all, through it all
It is well.
Through it all, through it all
my eyes are on You
It is well with me
And then she stopped. She couldn't continue for the tears in her eyes and the thoughts rushing through her mind. Her faith stopped her so that she could recognize the words she was about to sing in the second verse.
Far be it from me to not believe,
even when my eyes can't see.
By day 3 in the NICU, Jack was on the mend. And after a few issues with his IV, the nurses were forced to perform more blood work on him to determine if he needed further treatment. If the blood work showed any sign of infection, they would have to find another way to administer the antibiotics and possibly begin another 7 day treatment. We were relieved when the blood work came back completely clear. And so at 4 days old, a few past our original expectations but 3 days short of the projected discharge, Jack came home.
No amount of research or planning can prepare us for the journey of this life with God - especially when we find ourself in the NICU, the courtroom or the funeral home. But we can condition ourselves by reading God's Word and singing songs of worship. Because the scriptures we read are not simply bits of information we take in to prepare our minds for a future task, and the music we listen to are not simply words of praise for His previous deeds. His Words of faithfulness found in scripture and our songs of faith sung in any context are meant to be a present help. Because if our trust is in Him, it is always presently well with our soul.