Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Culmination of Africa

April 14, 2013

"God answered, 'I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.'” Exodus 3:12

Yesterday marked forty weeks since I returned home from Africa. I realize counting "weeks" may seem like a strange way to track time . . . but that's how they do things in the maternity world. Shortly after my return from Africa God allowed my husband and me to conceive our fourth living child; a child which was born to us yesterday in perfect health.

Many times in Scripture God issues a call to obedience, and then follows that call with a blessing. In Exodus 3 God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses doubted his own ability and God responded by saying in verse 12, "I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.” God promised Moses that once he obeyed he would see God in a new light.

The same holds true for the patriarch Abraham and for the shepherd-turned-king David. In Genesis 12 God called Abraham (then known by the name Abram) to leave behind all that he knew with the promise that God would one day bless him and make him into a great nation. Over four-hundred years passed before the culmination of God's promise to Abraham, but Abraham obeyed nonetheless. In 1 Samuel 16:13 God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint a young boy named David as the next king of Israel. But David waited nearly twenty years and endured many trials before God brought about the fulfillment of David's calling.

About eighteen months ago my husband and I felt God leading us to trust Him with the size of our family. My husband and I always dreamed of having a large family but when you consider finances and logistics and tons of other issues, the decision to have more children proves difficult. "Trust Me. Let Me decide," we felt God say. Believing God as the Author of life we decided to obey.

We conceived two months later in October 2011. But I miscarried just five and a half short weeks into the pregnancy. Though we were disappointed over our loss we moved forward trusting that God had other plans. When I received the invitation last March to teach in Africa it seemed God made His purpose in allowing my miscarriage evident. My due date had been June 12, 2012. Our team left for Africa on June 15th.

Following God's call to Africa proved very difficult. It meant leaving my husband and children behind for three weeks. Our team would spend part of the trip in a region of Africa where violent attacks on women run high. (Indeed, ministering to a group women affected by such attacks was one of the biggest blessing I received during our trip.) The decision to follow God proved difficult. But God in His goodness made it abundantly clear to me through personal prayer time, through His Word and through many other little ways that, "Just as I was with Moses, I will be with you" (Joshua 1:5).

At the risk of sharing TMI I experienced my LMP (I'm using acronyms in attempt to throw off the few male readers who visit this blog) while teaching in the Congo. Congo of all places. A memorable experience to say the least. Four weeks later I found myself adjusting back to life at home and . . . unexpectedly expecting. We would later learn it was a son this time, due two days shy of my husband's birthday. Talk about a blessing.

I share our news with caution. I know many women who struggle with infertility. The enemy would love nothing more than for these women to believe that God has denied them a child because of a lack of obedience on their part. We must remember God never promised us children. However, He does promise that His plan for us is good (Jeremiah 29:11). We must continue to walk in His plan and He will show us the path to life; when we walk with God we experience the joy of His presence (Psalm 16:11).

God did not reward my husband and me with a child because we deserved it. Our son is not a result of our "goodness" to God. Isaiah 64:6 reminds us that even our most righteous deed is like a filthy rag compared to our holy God. The birth of our son is simply an example of an incredible gift from the perfect Father (Matthew 7:11).

I do not want to imply that God only rewards us after obedience or even that He always rewards obedience. Romans 5:8 reminds us that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. In other words, God gave us His greatest gift while we were right smack dab in the middle of disobedience. We should follow God's call out of our love for Him, without the expectation of a blessing.

God does not always respond to obedience with a blessing. But sometimes He does. This time we believe He did.

Allow me to introduce our blessing to you. Below is a picture of our son, Tyler Henry, born weighing 9lbs 4ozs, measuring 21 3/4 inches long.

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father." James 1:17

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