Last week was a very eventful week. My daughter turned 21, and she graduated.
21 precious years of hugs, shared secrets, sticky hands, tickles and laughter…
21 glorious years of seeing God’s faithfulness and His mercies unfold day by day.
When my daughter was born, something went dreadfully wrong at the moment of her birth. The doctors could not find her heartbeat or detect movement for over twenty minutes. They told me they would do all that they could to save the child, but they wanted me to be prepared for a still-birth.
‘Still-birth? That couldn’t be? It couldn’t be happening to me… could it?’
Where does one go when all the help at hand expresses helplessness?
God. But why should God hear my cry? I had forgotten Him for years without number, wondered if He even existed.. My lifestyle certainly was way out of sync with what He would want for me.
Yet, didn’t He run to welcome the prodigal son? Didn’t He forgive David after he’d murdered Uriah and slept with Bathsheba? Didn’t David say that he’d rather trust himself to the hands of God than to the hands of man? What about the thief who hung on the cross, all he did was turn to Jesus and say ‘Lord, remember me…’?
I dragged my thoughts together to pray:
‘Lord, there is no reason at all why You should listen to me. I have lived a sinful life. There is nothing that I can bring You as an offering. All I can think of at this moment is that I’ve heard You are a compassionate God and that You are merciful. I know that as God You are the One who has the power to give life to my child. I’m asking You not to hold my sins against me, I am asking You to have mercy on this child that is to come into the world. Give this child life. Let this child be normal in every way. Lord, if You have heard and answered my prayer, would you give me a sign? Let the baby cry the moment it’s born ’
As I prayed I felt a deep peace enfold me, and this strong conviction took hold of me, that all was well, that my child would live.
Not long afterwards, my child was born. A girl. I could see her as the doctor held her up. Ashen and still.
‘Please God,’ my heart breathed, and even as my words were forming, she cried.
The neo-natal surgeon cried out, ‘Praise God!!! She lives!!!’
I held the precious bundle for a few seconds, before they rushed her off to the incubator.
Grace. I learnt about God’s grace that day. I deserved NOTHING, and yet, God chose to hear my prayer and He answered me so marvellously.
A month later I met the neo-natal surgeon who had attended my daughter at her birth. He was thrilled with her progress, but he cautioned me, ‘You are not out of the woods. Your daughter did not receive oxygen for 20mins when her heart was not beating. That is a long time. There will be an inevitable impact. Her physical reflexes seem to be ok. She most probably will be a slow learner and she will definitely be stunted in height.’
Again I felt that amazing deep peace and conviction flood my heart that all was well, and I replied, ‘My God does not do things in half measures. I believe that she is completely well, and she will be tall.’
The surgeon looked pityingly at me, but he let it go.
I wish I could meet him now.
My daughter graduated with a double major in psychology and anthropology, and she’s taller than me, and is taller than most of her friends.
Grace. Amazing grace that does not do anything in half measures. Amazing grace that responds to the broken, helpless cry of a sinner. Amazing grace that is willing to forgive my doubts, backsliding and neglect.
Grace. I’ve been reading through Jeremiah, and beneath the prophecies and indictments, one can hear very clearly our loving Father God’s heart – His longing to pour out grace and healing the moment His people turn back to Him.
Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus,
Praise His Name!
Lyrics: Haldor Lillenas
being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ…
so that in the coming ages
he might show
the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us
in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:4-7 ESV