So instead of wallowing in self-pity over the twisted fate that was bestowed upon my baby, I pick him up, and lay him on his activity mat.
We start doing his physical therapy exercises. We do them at every opportunity I have. The neurologist, ophthalmologist, and physical therapist are concerned because he has low muscle tone, visual impairment, and frequent breaks in practice during his stays in the hospital. So I work with him as much as I possibly can to keep him on track with his developmental milestones. We’ve come a long way, and he’s definitely surprised me with his determination. He’s not behind at all. He’s doing everything he should at this stage in his life. He’s tracking things much better, showing bursts of vision, holding his head, rolling over by himself, sitting without assistance, attempting to reach a sitting position independently, tucking his knees, rocking back and forth trying to crawl, wanting to stand. His doctors are more than impressed with his progress. Though, I just can’t help but feel that twinge as my heart beats sideways in my chest..when his eyes flicker away uncontrollably..when he doesn’t seem to see what’s right in front of him..when he doesn’t reach for his toys..when he doesn’t use his arms, because he doesn’t see where they should be or what they should be doing..when he struggles..
A rush of emotion emanates from that spot in my stomach that knots my insides, before it slowly rises to my throat. It chokes me as I call out encouragements, “Good job, buddy. You’re amazing. You’re doing so great.” My voice trails off into whispers, until I’m silent once again. Worry and dread mix with the stomach acid that won’t stop rising. I jump up and open his book cabinet, anxious for a distraction. I grab the first one I see, Jesus Calling, a daily devotional. My mom gave it to me months ago, and it’s been sitting in the same spot it’s always been. I open it to his birthday, and start to read to him while he rolls around his mat. While he’s unaware of the battles being waged in my mind, I’m unaware of the work God is about to do on me, seeking my surrender.
Seek My face, and you will find more than you ever dreamed possible. Let Me displace worry at the center of your being.
I am the goal of all your searching. When lesser goals capture your attention, I fade into the background of your life. I am still there, watching and waiting; but you function as if you were alone. Actually, My Light shines on every situation you will ever face. Let nothing dampen your search for Me.
Psalm 27:8; Philippians 4:7; Jeremiah 29:13
I start to quiver. Though not physically, as I am completely still, but on the inside, I am trembling. It starts out small, but slowly builds as the sentences relay through my mind. He’s there again, tucked away in a corner in my chest. God’s reaching out, and with his pinkie finger he’s gently scratching at the bands of muscle behind my heart, the way a mother does to her small child when she notices something dried onto the skin of their cheek. Scratch, scratch, scratch.
January 20 (The First Day in the NICU)
As you make plans for the day, remember that it is I who orchestrate the events of your life. On days when things go smoothly, according to your plans, you may be unaware of My sovereign Presence.
On days when your plans are thwarted, be on the lookout for Me! I may be doing something important in your life, something quite different from what you expected. Accept My way as better than yours. Don’t try to figure out what is happening. Simply trust Me and thank Me in advance for the good that will come out of it all.
I know the plans I have for you, and they are good.
Isaiah 55:9-11; Jeremiah 29:11
He’s doing it again, that small niggling. That wiggle, pull, and tug. It’s getting stronger, and the trembling is slowly increasing to quakes. I can feel it, and I’m back there again. That morning, after a night of hell. The panic was all I could process. I knew something was wrong, and no one would listen. I was helpless, and the moment before Cody rushed into the hospital room, telling me Max had been rushed to the NICU after he had stopped breathing, was the last moment I ever breathed easily again.
January 21 (The Second Day in the NICU; waiting for the MRI)
I want you to be all Mine. I am weaning you from other dependencies. Your security rests in Me alone – not in other people, not in circumstances. Depending only on Me may feel like walking on a tightrope, but there is a safety net underneath: the everlasting arms. So don’t be afraid of falling. Instead, look ahead to Me. I am always before you, beckoning you on – one step at a time. Neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate you from My loving Presence.
Deuteronomy 33:27; Romans 8:39
January 22 (The Third Day in the NICU; bumped down on the list, still waiting for the MRI)
Strive to trust Me in more and more areas of your life. Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity. Instead of running away from these challenges, embrace them, eager to gain all the blessings I have hidden in the difficulties. Don’t waste energy regretting the way things are or thinking about what might have been. Start at the present moment – accepting things exactly as they are – and search for My way in the midst of those circumstances.
Trust is like a staff you can lean on, as you journey uphill with Me. If you are trusting in Me consistently, the staff will bear as much of your weight as needed. Lean on, trust, and be confident in Me with all your heart and mind.
Psalm 52:8; Proverbs 3:5-6
January 23 (The Fourth Day in the NICU; MRI completed, Max was extubated)
It’s alright to be human. When your mind wanders while you are praying, don’t be surprised or upset. Simply return your attention to Me. Share a secret smile with Me, knowing that I understand. Rejoice in My love for you, which has no limits or conditions. Whisper My Name in loving contentment, assured that I will never leave you or forsake you.
As you live in close contact with Me, the Light of My Presence filters through you to bless others. Your weakness and woundedness are the openings through which the Light of the knowledge of My Glory shines forth. My strength and power show themselves most effective in your weakness.
Deuteronomy 31:6; 1 Peter 3:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7; 2 Corinthians 12:9
January 24 (The Fifth Day in the NICU; we struggle through medications alterations)
My Peace is the treasure of treasures: the pearl of great price. It is an exquisitely costly gift, both for the Giver and the receiver. I purchased this Peace for you with My blood. You receive this gift by trusting Me in the midst of life’s storms. If you have the world’s peace – everything going your way – you don’t seek My unfathomable Peace. Thank Me when things do not go your way, because spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials.
Adverse circumstances are normal in a fallen world. Expect them each day. Rejoice in the face of hardship, for I have overcome the world.
Matthew 13:46; James 1:2; John 16:33
January 25 (The Sixth Day in the NICU; still struggling)
Let My Love enfold you in the radiance of My Glory. Sit still in the Light of My Presence, and receive My Peace. These quiet moments with Me transcend time, accomplishing far more than you can imagine. Bring Me the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones.
Through the intimacy of our relationship, you are being transformed from the inside out. As you keep your focus on Me, I form you into the one I desire you to be. Your part is to yield to My creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up.
Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Me set the pace. Hold My hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.
Hebrews 13:15; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Psalm 73:23-24
January 26 (The Seventh Day in the NICU; still struggling)
Give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life. Part of you is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties. This is a false hope! As I told My disciples, in the world you will have trouble. Link your hope not to problem solving in this life, but to the promise of an eternity of problem-free life in heaven. Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world, pour your energy into seeking Me: the Perfect One.
It is possible to enjoy Me and glorify Me in the midst of adverse circumstances.
In fact, My Light shines most brightly through believers who trust Me in the dark. That kind of trust is supernatural: a production of My indwelling Spirit. When things seem all wrong, trust Me anyway.
The few pages from Max’s first week of life, and I was a heaving mess. It was the kind of crying you do in the shower when no one’s home. The kind of crying that lets you purge everything from your being, and leave to rot. I was having trouble catching my breath, I couldn’t even form the words anymore. My speech was incoherent. That was how my little sister found me. She was frightened, and I was too. How could this be? How could every word on every page line up with the events in my life so soundly? Without missing a beat, everything I ever needed to hear to see me through the most difficult time in my life, was condensed to 4 pages in a book 3 inches wide and 4 inches long. How could this be real? I looked up at her, and then up above towards the ceiling, and shook my head in disbelief, before I hung it from my neck. The tears wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t control myself.
Moments earlier, the war seemed like it would never end, and in a matter of minutes, he brought me to my knees in merciful surrender. It was me that was stopping myself from finding His Grace. Without another thought, without letting another moment go by, I let go of the rope, and fell into Him. Suspended in air, I found myself again through Him.