24 hours… While we still can’t know the conditions surrounding Abel’s birth, what we finally DO know at last is that his birthday is going to be TOMORROW, January 22, 2016. We know this because in order to eliminate variables at delivery with Abel still in ‘breech’ position, Kelly will have him by C-section @ 7:30am Central Time. So roughly 24hrs from this post, the time will come for us to meet our son face-to-face. I promise that our Doc had reasons for delivering at 39 weeks (which is still amazing to type) rather than waiting til 40, so while the “1/29” won’t pan out precisely, we are ready and excited to have this baby boy!
While we encourage ANYone to continue reading, it is you “1:29ers” out there who we write to this morning… and due to the amazing videography of #StandForLife Movement the other week (below), it feels like there are more of us here down the home stretch than ever!
So for our brothers & sisters in Christ who have prayed for us at any time and in any capacity, this final post before Abel’s birth is for you. Here’s 3 things we want to be sure that you know:
(1) Your daily prayers will be a forever-special memory of this pregnancy with our first son, and God has answered many of them…
For starters, we asked you to pray that we could all partner with the Lord in bringing dignity to Abel’s earthly life—for our son to be a reminder that every child, from the moment of conception, is precious. Just prior to this 14th post, little man’s blog has 38,015 clicks by 18,215 different visitors. His StandForLife video has 10,551 YouTube hits and was shared by 435 people on Facebook, most of whom we’ve never met. As we’ve said before, Abel does not become our son on Friday morning; he has been our son since last April. So THANK YOU for lifting him up, sharing his story to date, and giving his life meaning & value even from the womb all these months.
Secondly and profoundly, the fact that Kelly is carrying him here in late January (how incredible is she, btw?) just a week out from full-term is a gift in itself that we do not overlook. Ever since we discovered Abel’s Trisomy-18 diagnosis last summer, we’ve known that any week could be ‘the week’ as mothers can frequently miscarry or labor prematurely. So closing in on 6lbs, active as ever, extending fingers, wiggling toes, kicking his Mama… these are all sweet, sweet things that were far from guaranteed. Thank you, Lord.
For Abel’s parents
We believe that God is the Creator of every life, and that He’s had a plan and a sovereign purpose for Abel Paul’s since well-before this diagnosis. Up to this point, standing for the sanctity of life in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16) and letting the Body of Christ shine (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Ephesians 4:1-16) have been just two of the purposes that we can perceive at this time. As it pertains to Abel’s birthday tomorrow, the Lord may also purpose to hold up our boy as a powerful reminder that He is the God of miracles—but we must also accept that His plan might be different than that. Either way, we believe with confidence & conviction that the ultimate plan & purpose for Abel’s life (and our lives) is to glorify the Glorious One. And by glorify, I mean having actions + attitudes that show Jesus alone is the greatest and most glorious Treasure that one could find (Matthew 13:44).
So as that ultimate purpose also extends to Abel’s parents, this is perhaps the most wonderful area where God has answered your prayers. Because Kelly & I have needed to be reminded, daily, to fix our eyes on eternity where our great hope lies (2 Corinthians 4:16-18), which sits well beyond our short time on this earth. We’ve needed to be encouraged, daily, to re-up & abide with Christ (John 15:4-5) even—rather, ESPECIALLY in the midst of hardship (Hebrews 4:14-16). And we’ve needed His courage, daily, in our attempts to steward Abel’s life to the glory of God (Colossians 1:24-29). We’ve asked you for months to pray for all that & more on our behalf, and God in his goodness has been faithful to extend those blessings to us through His Word, His Spirit & His People. Thank you, Lord.
(2) God is good, faithful & trustworthy – even if we do not find Abel physically healed as we’ve been praying.
Here’s a fact: I’d have my work cut out for me to find a baby that has been MORE prayed over before their birth than our son, Abel. So in case you may struggle sometimes with a formulaic “If-Then” view of relating to God (“if only I would have done ___, then God would have rewarded me by ___”) then PLEASE hear this: The goal of prayer is to draw near to God and let Him draw near to us (James 4:8), and He invites & asks us to do so (1 Thess 5:16-18) even while we won’t ever comprehend Him fully this side of eternity (Isaiah 55:8-9). So prayer’s intimate purpose is to fully confide the desires of our hearts to Jesus, that we may know Him more even if we understand Him less. I mention that to show that God does not accumulate our prayers like donations to a crowd-funding site, as if there were a magic number of prayers that He needed to hear before He’d determine to fix Abel’s chromosomes. So with a Biblical view of God & prayer, there is zero room to let that haunting “if only” thought agonize us as believers… Please know that, and please apply that truth to any past or present situation in your own life.
Here’s another fact: the “If-Then” view of relating to God is also bogus when put in reverse. “IF You heal my son, THEN I’ll trust you… IF you somehow show me You’re real, THEN I’ll believe… IF You give me what I feel like I need, THEN I’ll follow you.” At best, this is a WEAK faith that will collapse on itself the moment disappointment or suffering enters the equation. But I think calling it ‘faith’ at all is a misnomer… because faith is not real when it’s loaded with conditions and contingencies.
Instead of an “If-Then” faith, we believe that followers of Christ are called to an “Even If” faith (Daniel 3:16-18) that unconditionally honors & clings to a faithful God in every scenario. Because Jesus never shied away from stating clearly that following Him was a far cry from guaranteed health & wealth in this world (Luke 9:23). In fact, God’s Word tells us that Christian suffering is not strange, but to be expected (1 Peter 4:12-13). It tells us that we’ll know Christ more sweetly & more intimately as we experience sorrow & grief just like He did (Philippians 3:7-11, Isaiah 53;3-6). It tells us that we can even REJOICE while enduring & persevering through earthly hardships, because they are opportunities to exalt Him with our allegiance in the present and strengthen our unwavering hope for the future (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4).
So we don’t know what tomorrow has in store, and in that regard it’s still really scary for us to think about. But we know that as the Body of Christ, we hope to live out the heart of Psalm 119:30 in this and any season: “I have chosen the way of faithfulness, and I have set my heart on Your ways.”
(3) We want you to feel encouraged to keep those alarms set … and not just for us
Some of the most consistent & uplifting feedback we’ve heard from folks is how much the daily alarm has renewed & revamped the prayer lives of many… and in our minds, this is yet another small way the Lord has chosen to use Abel’s life, and another way that you guys honor it. So if that alarm reminds you to draw near to the One who has drawn near to you, then we encourage you to keep it. Feel TOTALLY free to move it to a different time if it helps, but consider continuing to pray for those who may be hurting or walking through seasons of uncertainty. Be reminded of the reality of Christian suffering–that it’s not an excuse to doubt God’s goodness & power, but an opportunity to share in Christ’s sufferings for us… And take heart in the eternal hope we have because of that suffering Savior, who gave His earthly life that we may truly live with Him, forever.
It’s been quite a journey so far. Thank you. We love you.