Children Are a Blessing. Not a Burden.
About a year and a half ago, our third born, Joey, was six months old. Needless to say, Lindsay and I weren’t getting any sleep. They say you should never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. I would say that you shouldn’t schedule a vasectomy after having a newborn. Well, that’s exactly what I did. After about five minutes of deliberate thinking and learning that the vasectomy doctor gave out free pizzas to his patients, I set an appointment for my surgery. Even though I was done having children, God wasn’t finished with us yet.
That same day I scheduled the appointment, we attended Secret Church. Secret Church is an annual, four hour, intensive Bible teaching time where David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, picks a topic to teach on for the night. Platt was talking about world religions on this night. He had honed in on Islam and how it was growing in huge numbers by having an average of seven kids per family. On the flip side, Christian birth rates are some of the lowest in the world. Often times, Christian families, especially in America, are more concerned with having fewer children since their kids often get in away of their lives. The truth is we often see children as burdens rather than blessings.
As I sat thinking about that statement, I realized the irony of my day. I had scheduled a vasectomy for a free pizza. While there is nothing wrong with a free pizza, God revealed my selfishness to me in why I was scheduling the appointment in the first place. I had only thought about the inconvenience of having a newborn. I saw a new baby as sucking all the time and money out of my life and preventing me from doing what I wanted to do with my life. God wasn’t a part of my thought process at all no matter how I tried to justify it.
In fact, I remember a conversation I had with Lindsay earlier that day. Lindsay asked me, “Did you pray about the decision to get a vasectomy?”
I told her I didn’t need to do that. I had thought about it enough. I tried to tell Lindsay that I would be a better minister of the Gospel without anymore kids. I tried to explain to her how our marriage would be stronger. After all, Lindsay and I aren’t our best when we don’t have sleep.
Thankfully and providentially, the Holy Spirit of God convicted me of my sin that night at Secret Church. David Platt’s words stung deep, but I needed to hear it. I was in disobedience from what God was calling us to do which was have another child.
What is Spina bifida?
After that night, I knew God was telling us we were going to have another child. I knew this child was going to be special. In my limited understanding, I pictured the baby becoming a pastor or missionary. Well, God had different plans.
Fast forward to Wednesday, December 13, 2017. Lindsay is now pregnant with our fourth child, a little girl. Up to this point, our doctor’s appointments have gone smoothly. The baby has looked great and healthy. We went in for our targeted ultrasound which was supposed to be a routine check and a lot of fun seeing 3D pictures of our unborn daughter. Lindsay and I even brought the kids to see their new sister. We thought everything would be as normal as the previous appointments. We were wrong.
We noticed that the technician was very quiet as she was taking a lot of pictures of Caroline’s spine and head. Lindsay noticed that something was wrong. I, on the other hand, can’t make heads or tails of those ultrasounds and was oblivious to the whole situation. Lindsay started asking questions about the spine. The technician asked Lindsay if she knew something was wrong. Lindsay was waiting to hear a simpler diagnosis of scoliosis or something of that nature.
The technician said, “It’s spina bifida.”
I had heard of this condition before but, on that day, I couldn’t tell you what it meant. I just knew it was serious. In fact, all I could do was to keep from crying in front of my children. I didn’t know if this condition meant my baby would live or not. As the doctor told us more, it became harder to hide our emotions. We told our eldest daughter that something was wrong with Caroline and that she was going to have to have surgery. My sweet six year old little girl started to tear up as she realized that baby Caroline was going to be in pain.
For those wondering, spina bifida is a condition where a lesion on the back of the child leaves part of the spinal cord is exposed to amniotic fluid in the womb. Depending on how high the lesion is determines on the severity of the effects from the spine being exposed to the fluid. Some children have only bladder issues while others may be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of their lives. Some have more serious conditions that are more life threatening.
Having Children for the Glory of God
As we sat in that doctor’s office, there was one thing I knew. God called us to have baby Caroline for a purpose. She was meant to bring glory to God and make much of Jesus Christ.
Lindsay and I recently re-watched “The Nativity” which is a great movie representation of the birth of Christ. We reflected on Mary who was humbled by the thought of God showing favor on her to be the one to bring Jesus into the world, the hope of nations.
I was also humbled that God would choose us to give birth to a sweet little baby girl with a condition that would put us into the room with people we ordinarily would never meet. To think that God may have even created us with the purpose of raising up Caroline just so we can share to the world the hope of the nations, Jesus Christ.
Life is so short. We all want our lives to matter and to have a purpose for our existence. Our lives have been crafted by the Lord to bring honor and glory to Him. I am so thankful that Jesus reminded me that I am not the ruler of my life. I don’t get to call the shots. I’m not supposed to just make my life more comfortable. I’ve been created for a purpose. And that purpose is more than free pizza and personal ambitions.
God convicted me that my purpose is to simply take the opportunities that He’s put before me and share the magnificence of Christ. I hope that our story would show others that we have been created for God’s glory. Are we taking every opportunity of our lives to live for Him?
I know that the road ahead of us is long. We have already talked to a host of doctors, surgeons, social workers, and specialists about Caroline. We will have many new challenges that we never would have conceived of before being pregnant with Caroline. I know that it will bring a new level of stress and require a ton of responsibility, but I am thankful for God’s gift of my daughter. It gives me a glimpse of my Father’s love and His great plan. I feel a great sense of joy and peace in the middle of these incredible circumstances.
We would ask that others wouldn’t pity us or feel sorry for us. This is God’s call on our lives and we feel incredibly blessed that this is how God has called us to live our lives. Please pray for us and for the long road ahead. Soli Deo Gloria!