Early in my pregnancy with Clive, I read and re-read and meditated on Samuel 1.
20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”21 When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
My baby was a gift, a wonderful gift from God, and I loved the verse “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.” But I could not ignore the next verse. “So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” Not mine, given to the Lord.
God gave me a peace, a trusting heart that He cared for my baby. Our first ultrasound with Clive was scary. We’d had 4 with our first baby before they confirmed it had no heartbeat. As we went in for our 12 week ultrasound with Clive, we didn’t have the excitement that most parents have. When we saw his little heart beating and his body moving, a huge wave of relief washed over us. When the tech left me there to change in that dark ultrasound room, Sam and I turned to each other with tired smiles and both felt like we could just fall asleep then and there. 8 weeks later we found our we were having a little boy. And he was perfect. And he kicked and grew and we prayed for and cherished that time with him.
At my 30 week appointment on April 10, his heart began to have skipped beats on the doppler so we had another ultrasound that confirmed an arrhythmia and they immediately had me admitted to the hospital. Each day in the hospital, as I had for the first 30 weeks, I continued to pray and give Clive to God. God was preparing my heart. After 2 1/2 weeks of monitoring at the hospital, our baby boy was brought into this world. He was sick, but he was so strong and so beautiful. We had so much progress and so many setbacks. As we rode this rollercoaster, helpless in making Clive better, I continued to pray over him. There were many nights that we weren’t sure he’d make it. We stood over his bed, forgoing sleep, and I kept giving him to God. I wanted to keep him so bad. There’s no way for me to explain how badly I wanted to make him well. But I knew that even if he was well and I got to bring him home and raise him, he would never be fully mine. He was never mine.
At almost 4 weeks old, we watched helplessly as his body began to fail and his heart stopped, as he was rushed into emergency surgery. After surgery, we stood vigil over his little frame, connected to so many machines that sustained his life. It was the most horrific sight one could imagine, as he lost his entire blood volume three times over. And miraculously, God sustained him and he lived through the night, as he had for the previous 27 nights.
We read to him, as we had been for weeks, and Sam got to the story in our Jesus Storybook Bible about Abraham and Issac. He didn’t want to read it. Too close for comfort. But God was speaking in it, undeniably so. It hurt to hear those words of what God was asking of Abraham in sacrificing his only son. It was remarkable the trust that Abraham had in God. It was beautiful to see the ram sacrificed in place of the boy.
We cried and prayed that Clive would be spared, that his life would be a miracle and a testimony of God’s goodness.
We listen, we praise, we walk in the direction of God’s voice, and we obey.
Sometimes that means we get to unbind and celebrate.
Sometimes it means we don’t.
Clive’s life wasn’t spared in that way. He was given to the Lord in the most complete way. We got him for 39 days (plus 32 weeks in me). But his life is still a miracle and a testimony of God’s goodness. He was never mine, as any future children will not be mine. Lent to me by God to nurture and care for a brief moment in the broad scope of eternity. He’s fully God’s. Always was, even before he was formed. “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”