It’s been a little quiet around here. And that’s because of one very special reason.
i’ve been keeping a secret
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. I have to back up and tell this story from the beginning. Because there is so much glory wrapped up in every detail. I’m actually shaking my head as I write this. Because the details are all too perfect. The story perfectly written.
it’s as if He planned it
In the beginning of the year, I was antsy. I was nearing the end of my rope with this whole waiting thing, unsure of how much longer I could wait. How much more waiting I could endure. And we still felt so convicted to simply do nothing but wait for Him to do His miracle. But I was thinking about tracking my ovulation again. It was silly, really. I hadn’t done that in about five years. And already, the back-and-forth self-dialogue starting happening in my brain. Why torture yourself? … But it couldn’t hurt.
Back and forth I went. Should I? Shouldn’t I? It seems like an obvious yes, but I wondered if I was willing to take myself to that next emotional level again. Every single month.
I wasn’t sure. But I bought a new thermometer anyway. Only it sat in my bathroom drawer. Unused. Because I couldn’t decide if I was ready for that again.
Then February came. Our Groundhog Day, and the ten year anniversary of when we first started trying to have a baby. An entire decade of trying. And testing. And waiting. And, once again – for what felt like the millionth time – I had to rest in Him. And trust His promise. And remember His sovereignty.
And then there was March.
I have to admit before we go any further that I’m kind of a pen snob. As in, I’m obsessed with one particular kind of pen and buy it by the box so I’m never without one. But there was one morning in early March that the inevitable happened. My last pen ran out of ink. I didn’t have a replacement. And I was forced to write in my prayer journal with a foreign pen. One that was thicker than I liked. Bolder than what I was used to.
sometimes God uses thicker ink to speak a little more loudly
I was in the middle of my normal quiet time routine (and reading in the book of Daniel) when I felt the sudden urge to read a devotional that I hadn’t picked up in quite some time. Years, even. Streams in the Desert was a devotional that Shawna and I both read avidly. And talked about constantly. And after she died, I just sort of stopped reading it.
But on that Wednesday morning, I opened it anew. And the verse for that day was a familiar one out of 1 Chronicles 17. The part where David prays God’s promise before Him after God said no to his dream. It’s a section of Scripture of huge personal significance to me. And is actually part of the new Bible Study I’m currently writing. And that morning, I re-read the familiar words:
So now, O LORD, may the promise You made about your servant and his family become a permanent reality! Do as You promised, so it may become a reality and You may gain lasting fame, as people say, ‘The LORD who commands armies is the God of Israel.’ David’s dynasty will be established before You.
1 Chronicles 17:23-24
And I prayed them as David prayed. Remembering the promise He had given me for my own family. Oh LORD… do as You promised. So it may become a reality and You may gain lasting fame and Your name may be magnified. LORD please, do Your promise.
And then I took a quick peek at the Living Bible’s translation of the same verse. In the part where David said “do Your promise,” this other version said “I accept Your promise, LORD.” I loved that phrase. And wrote it in my prayer journal with that bolder-than-normal pen. And then I continued reading the devotional, where there was a quote from F.B. Meyer – a pastor in the latter part of the 19th century. There is hardly any position more utterly beautiful, strong, or safe, than to put the finger upon some promise of the Divine word, and claim it, he wrote. And then, the next sentence bowled me over:
There need be no anguish, or struggle, or wrestling; we simply present the check and ask for cash, produce the promise, and claim its fulfillment.
They were interesting words. Words that I wanted to believe. And act upon. But I was afraid I was reading too much into the timing of it. And the significance of that verse from 1 Chronicles. Maybe it was all just a coincidence. After all, Christians can easily spin God’s word to be applicable to what they want to hear.. right? So I set Streams in the Desert aside. And went back to Daniel. To finish reading the chapter I had already started. I read of Daniel’s dreams and visions. And then, one phrase: Daniel kept the matter in his heart. I already knew the cross-reference noted to the phrase without having to look. It pointed to Luke 2:19. Which was another verse holding another promise that He had given me five years earlier. After a girlfriend had a dream about our baby. And I was skeptical. Hesitant to believe it. And an hour later, God led me straight to that verse in Luke and confirmed His promise:
Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the LORD.
Trusting that the second verse was not just another coincidence, I nervously and boldy prayed, using that bolder-than-normal-pen, and writing in all caps: Oh LORD. DO AS YOU PROMISED. I accept Your promise. Fulfill Your word.
Two hours later, the balloon of hope deflated when I started spotting. My period had started four days early. I felt a little foolish. Disappointed for sure. Again. For the 121st time. And tried to remind myself that this is what faith is about. Asking and then asking again. Knocking, and then knocking again.
But the longer you knock without an answer? It gets that much harder to convince yourself to knock again.
Two days later, I was back at my typical morning perch. With my typical finer-point pen. Continuing on through the book of Daniel. This time in chapter nine. When Gabriel came to Daniel to tell him that the very moment Daniel was studying Scripture and recognized the end of Israel’s captivity in Babylon (and immediately started to pray) – that very moment – a command was given. A command that was in direct answer to Daniel’s prayer. He had asked boldly, after reading and understanding Jeremiah’s prophecies, for the captivity of his people to end. For the LORD’s sake. And he didn’t ask for it some time in the future. Now, he said. He didn’t know at the time that God was acting on his prayer at the very moment Daniel asked.
But Gabriel did. And was sent to Daniel to tell him so. Daniel, he said. You no sooner started your prayer when the answer was given.
I read those words from The Message’s translation, and breathed out deeply.
LORD, I crave that. I crave an end to all this waiting. I crave the answer given. I crave a dramatic move of Your Spirit.
And I left it at that. Because sometimes you need to just acknowledge a deep yearning that won’t quit. And then you have to trust that He heard you.
Two days after that, I had our tiny home to myself. It was a rare Sunday that Josh had to work I was catching up on some work of my own late that morning when I started thinking. That period I thought had started a few days earlier never really kicked in. I wonder… I thought. I could have waited it out, because it always came eventually. But I didn’t want to torture myself for a week.
So I took a test out of pure curiosity. And laying it on the counter and setting the timer on my phone, I walked out of the bathroom to work for a couple of minutes. And as I walked out, I glanced back. The results window was blinding white. And I shook my head. Unsure of why I keep doing this to myself. Another day, another no.
When the timer went off, I got up to throw the test away – still deep in thought over a project I was working on. When I looked up and saw it.
Hands shaking. Mind racing. Heart too scared to believe it really could be true. I fell on the floor and cried. And stared at the pink lines. And cried. And stared. And cried. Until I had the strength to stand back up again. And take a second one. Just to confirm that I wasn’t making it up.
When that, too, was positive, I grabbed my camera and photographed it. And named the file “miracle.jpg” before putting it onto a USB drive. I drove to Target, printed it out at their photo kiosk, picked out a frame and wrapped it up. Then carefully propped it up on the coffee table, ready for Josh to find when he came home.
That was the longest three hours of my life.
The next morning, I woke up and turned to look out the window at the barely-dawn, soft grey light, and could only manage two words in my head: it’s over.
He has done His miracle.
He has heard my cry.
He has answered our prayer.
I. Have. Survived. This.
And then I got curious about that period I thought had come early. So I did a quick search online for spotting day 24. And my eyes got wide when I read one of the first results: implantation bleeding. It turns out that the moment I was cashing in my check and believing Him for His promise? It was the very same moment that He was performing it. And the actual conception? It was the end of February. The same exact month as our ten year anniversary of trying.
Overwhelmed with all of that information, I sat down for my quiet time and opened my daily Search the Scriptures study to the bookmark from the day before. And looked down to that day’s reading. It was parked at Psalm 139. Right where He wanted it.
This is too much, too wonderful – I can’t take it all in! I wrote, recording The Message’s version of verse six. And then I dug the two positive tests out of the trash. And looked again at the vibrant pink lines. And reminded myself that it wasn’t a dream. That He has written our story perfectly. And I would be able to tell the world at exactly twelve weeks on Mother’s Day that this baby, our little miracle, would be coming to the world right around Thanksgiving and Shawna’s death anniversary.
Because He makes all things new. And bitter waters sweet. Because He redeems heartbreak.
Oh, the greatness of His glory.