We had wanted a child for so long. We ached to have a baby, one that would be ours to love, one that we could raise. I wanted to share my love of learning with a child. A child is a legacy. I wanted to leave a bit of me in this world by teaching another human being the things I felt were important.
I kept going to the story of Abraham in the Bible. I saw how desperately he wanted a child. I kept praying that I would have a child to raise.
“Heavenly Father, if You would bless me with a child I will care for him and raise him to bless Your name. If You would give me a child I would teach him about You and he would carry Your love, Your word through his life. If You would do for me what You did for Abraham, I will do the same as he did. I will give that child to You. I will dedicate my son to You and I will follow Your will in all that I do with him. Please give me a child, and I promise I will give him back to You. --Amen.”
And it happened. We got that child. We named him after me: Willy. He was born on my wife’s birthday, August 30th. Oh, it is hard to express the joy of that day. We had yearned for that child throughout the twelve years we had been a couple and he had arrived!
I kept my promise. I remembered how the LORD asked Abraham to give his son to Him and Abraham complied. I thought about this new life in my care and I took such joy in thinking how I would teach Willy about the Word, about Jesus, about eternal life. I thought about Abraham, how he followed the LORD’s will and gave his son to Him. I would be obedient, do the same.
In November, we had a feast in our home. We invited friends, we cooked a huge meal. We set tables end to end in our living room and filled the chairs with friends. I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and dedication.
I shared our journey, our desire, and God’s faithful answering of prayer. I kept my promise. Before those witnesses I told my LORD I was giving this child to Him. I said that no matter what the LORD wanted my child to do, I would uphold His will. I gave my child, I gave my hopes, and dreams, and promises, to my creator.
Four weeks later I was standing at the end of my drive, watching for the ambulance to come, hoping they would be able to make that child breathe again.
I didn’t understand.
As I sit here, tapping at this keyboard, something in my heart twists over slowly, a bruise rolls up into view. I think, “Oh dear LORD. I love You, but couldn’t there have been another way?”
The LORD asked Abraham to give up the thing that most filled his heart. And he did it. But the LORD never actually took Isaac from Abraham. The offering was enough. But the LORD did take Willy. That morning Willy cried himself to sleep; and when his crying stopped, so did he.
But I am not the only one who has given up a child. Even He provided a very difficult offering once.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” -- John 3:16
Though my heart aches when I think about that day, December 15, 1992, I know my Lord understands. That means a lot to me.
So, here I am, thirteen years later, and though there is still a bruise where I was hurt, I am a little better able to understand.
Now I have two other children. Two children who need me and I find myself doing things that I didn’t know were part of the job description. (I should have though, it is clearly in the manual.) I am to pray over my children, just a Job did. And I am to place their needs first, before my own.
It is my job to intercede for my children, especially while they are within my home. I am to pray for them, pray with them, and pray blessings into them.
I felt awkward doing this at first.
My father is a tough guy, a sort of swaggering John Wayne sort of guy who doesn’t read books. He prefers to do tough things such as crush buildings with heavy equipment and cuss a lot.
It wasn’t so bad teaching my kids how to pray to God, but to put anointing oil on a finger and place my hand on their heads, well it seemed foppish, melodramatic. Not the sort of thing real men do.
But the look on their faces when I do it! A smile spreads across their faces and it seems something is flowing through me, they are receiving something through that prayer, that touch. I heard Jeremiah tell his psychologist that when I do that he feels all the bad things being pushed out of him.
And this goes for how I care for my spouse:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” --Ephesians 5:25-28
I am to strengthen my wife's faith through sharing prayers and scripture. I have started anointing my wife each night as well. Each member of my family has a vial of anointing oil on their headboard, the scent chosen to reflect who they are.
Again, it seems strange.
I was required to take courses outside of my major while in college. One such class was “Women in Culture.” A very strange experience. There were only four men in it on the first day, and by the end of that week I was the only one left. But I hung in there; I’m not a quitter. But golly, they hated men! Men were seen as the source of all that was wrong in the world (and they did have some persuasive arguments).
The militant lesbianism was uncomfortable, but I hung in there. I finished that class with an "A" and a deep respect for women and their struggles.
I think that experience made me feel awkward in taking a leadership role in my home, that I was being sexist, misogynistic. It somehow felt that in claiming the position of head of household I was saying that my wife is not as valued as I, not an equal.
But she is. And in praying a blessing for her I am not making her beneath me, or subservient. I am lifting her up to my LORD and asking Him to bless her. I am asking that she be given the resources to do all the difficult tasks that are placed on her.
And it isn’t as if I am elevated in any way. I am not the master of this home. My LORD is. I am a steward. I’m simply a manager of this franchise.
So I offer it all to Him. I know that can be dangerous. I remember offering Him something big once before. I didn’t like what He chose to do with Willy. But I am His servant.
I had an odd task to do this past weekend, and as uncomfortable as that was, it was the right thing to do. I first thought it was something that the elders of my church should do, or people in the congregation who seemed better versed in such things. But I was wrong. It was my job.
There were difficult moments, and I suspect more are coming. But I can tell you that in being obedient I feel lifted up. I feel a sense of joy and relief and... well, gratitude.
In that ultimate sacrifice of God's, in giving up His son, we can see the perspective of the sacrifice itself. A difficult task for God incarnate.
“And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” --Luke 22:40-42
Sometimes we are asked to do things we don’t like. Abraham did not eagerly lead his son up that mountain in Moriah. But he was obedient. And it pleased the LORD.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” --Psalm 19:14
That is what I want. I am the LORD’s (curious) servant.