Through the sound of the rain drops on our metal roof, I heard a soft mewing sound from my front porch. Dave’s voice came whispering low, “Jewels, come here.” The kids all jumped, but I asked them to sit. They knew, we all did, that he had brought a baby home.
I went out to meet my tender warrior–strong and broken, big arms wrapped around a tiny bundle. I felt sick as I peered inside these rags. There he was. This baby at 20 weeks gestation. Miraculously still breathing and crying out soft pleas hours after he had been born.
In a depth of grief I cannot imagine, the parents were unable to hold this little one, but wrapped him and laid him in the hospital. On rounds, Dave saw this little one alone. As we stood on our front step, he whispered to me through tears, “It’s not right. He can’t die alone.” My heart knew he was right, and yet I feared. How could I hold a baby as he entered the Father’s arms? How could my children endure this pain?
Once again, my children humbled me. “Please Mommy, let us hold him! He needs us. He needs a family.” “Maybe God will do a miracle.” We agreed to bring him in and love him for the hours that God breathed life.
Quickly we gave him warm clean blankets, now seeing the intricacy of his 500 gram little body. He was fearfully and wonderfully made. Made in the image of His Creator. We suddenly felt the overwhelming presence of God come over our home and all of us. We were strengthened, and quickly recognized the presence of God falling on us. So we gave him that name which means, “God is with us…”, Immanuel.
The kids began taking turns holding and rocking him, singing to him and hushing his little cries. Immanuel didn’t like loud noises and being moved too much–his tiny face would wrinkle and he would begin to cry. We played quiet worship music and sang over him. Our hearts broke over him. We all cried, wept, grieved over the brevity of his life. “It’s just not fair, Momma…” Evie cried into my shoulder.
Through tears and cradling my Selah as she wept, I sensed an overwhelming weight of the presence of the Father. I thought of how many times we beg God to see His glory and to know Him more deeply…and somehow here in this little tiny baby–He came to us. I was in total awe. My soul felt humbled. I had repentant fear…that I had nearly rejected this opportunity to be in His presence because I wanted to protect my own heart.
The sweetness and innocence of this baby touched our family. We learned something new of the grace of God. The grace was this LIFE. God allowed him to touch our family. We entered into the sacred. We walked into the valley of the shadow, because that’s what Jesus does with us. My children didn’t weigh the pain with the joy, they just knew what was right. They had compassion and love for this precious little one and for their faith, we were all blessed.
After a couple hours, the kids emotions were so strained…they couldn’t stop weeping. Selah would just hold little Immanuel and lay her head against me and sob. She understood something deeper than I knew she could. Night came and the kids needed rest. We decided together that Immanuel needed a ‘Grandma’ and a ‘Grandpa’ too, so we took him over to our neighbor’s home. Dr. Becky quickly cradled him and thanked my kids for loving him so well.
She had the same experience through the hours of the night as she sat up with him–embracing him and praying over him…“it was a night I’ll never forget,” she shared with me the next morning. Holy ground.
We brought him back into our home in the morning light. We held him in the sun, put ointment on his cracked lips and watched him, now struggling for air. He was getting closer to Heaven. By late morning, his family was being discharged from the hospital and now there was a family member who would take him home with them. My heart filled as I knew that this family needed to see and hold their baby before he died. God kept him alive for them too. He wanted to grace them with His presence. We prayed over him, blessed him and kissed our little Immanuel goodbye, until heaven.
Oh Lord, never let us choose the easy path so that we don’t get the greater gift of YOUR GLORY with us. Hide us in the cleft of your protective rock…let us not miss you– Your presence is our good. By your grace, help us enter into the Sacred.Thank you that YOU ARE—GOD WITH US—thank you that you come to us in unexpected, perfect ways. Give us eyes to see you, hands to hold you, hearts that will beat with yours.