“I hope your baby has both his eyes.”
She tells me this when she can’t find the card she made for Jackson. When she comes out for goodnight hugs to the group of women gathered to shower me and this little one with love, she hugs my belly separately from me. I hold onto the card, put it next to my bed. Her mom tells me that she and her brothers and sister have been praying for Jackson, for miraculous healing. I’m not sure there are more powerful prayers in the whole Kingdom than those of these children, who know Jesus with a closeness most of us have forgotten.
We are bringing her card to the hospital with us, and I have been praying daily that we might get to show her that God has answered her prayers.
My son’s elbows and knees (or feet, or something else) press close to the edge of my skin, and I remember that we are close to his birth. There are only a few weeks left. I have quieted down, my body moving deliberately, slowly. We have come a long way from the first positive test in January. We have journeyed far. And as I have slowed down, I hear something surprising. I hear Jesus ask me to be bolder. Pray, Hilary Joan. Come and kneel with me and pray.
When we first found out about Jackson’s cleft, we drove in a stunned kind of silence to the new hospital. We sat in the new, terrifyingly quiet octagon room where we would have ultrasound after ultrasound, blood pressure, weight, the daze of normal and not. We waited, we listened, we drove home. I thought my heart would strangle me in its longing to escape from the car, from the little person nestled so safely, so joyfully inside me, from the news, from the everything-it-now-must-inevitably-be.
At 29 weeks, we had an MRI. Jackson was, as he always is, on the move. The results of the MRI showed that the right ear hadn’t formed completely. “This is new for us,” my doctor said. “But they can repair it surgically. The internal structures are there, so there is a good chance he can hear eventually through that ear.” I wrote down words on the back of a credit card envelope. I hung up the phone, and again, my heart and its desperate desire to escape my body, escape the ever-dwindling weeks, the soon-to-be birth. There were only 11 weeks left then. No time for a miracle. No time for Jesus.
‘I hope your baby has his eyes.” 3 weeks from our due date I meet this little girl, who has a boldness I’m not sure I have ever had. I meet this girl, who prays for something I claimed to be too hard, too late, too impossible. 3 weeks from our due date, I hold a card that prays for what I have been hedging around. I hold the prayer that I have been afraid to admit that I am praying.
The Jesus Storybook Bible includes the story of Jairus’s daughter. Listen to these beautiful words:
“‘We don’t have time!’ Jesus’ friends said. But Jesus always had time. He reached out his hands and gently lifted her head. He looked into her eyes and smiled. ‘You believed,’ he said, wiping a tear from her eye, ‘and now you are well.’ Just then, Jairus’ servant rushed up to Jairus. ‘It’s too late,’ he said breathlessly. ‘Your daughter is dead.’ Jesus turned to Jairus. ‘It’s not too late,’ Jesus said. ‘Trust me.'”
I know what the MRI says. I know the ultrasounds. I know the plans and the teams and the big words. I know the impossibility that it must seem to be.
But week after week, Jesus has shown up. Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.
Week after week, I have been invited to pray with the One who formed my son Jackson. Week after week, I have been invited to ask for something that is hard to believe. Week after week, I have lost my footing in that once-sturdy boat.
Week after week, I have learned it is safer on the water with Jesus than in the boat with only my anxious, strangled heart and the crowd that murmurs – it is too late.
Jesus stands there: It is not too late. Trust me.
“At Jairus’ house, everyone was crying. But Jesus said, ‘I’m going to wake her up.’ Everyone laughed at him because they knew she was dead. Jesus walked into the little girl’s bedroom. And there, lying in the corner, in the shadows, was the still little figure. Jesus sat on the bed and took her pale hand.
‘Honey,’ he said, ‘it’s time to get up.’ And he reached down into death and gently brought the little girl back to life.”
Jesus tells me to get out of the boat and get on the water. So here it is:
I am praying that God completely, miraculously, heals my son Jackson. I am abandoning the reasonable. I am abandoning the words – “well, whatever God wills,” or “if not, then we’ll do X” because those are the words that I use to stay in the boat while Jesus waits for me on the open water. I am abandoning the careful attempts to make you think that I am still “realistic” about our circumstances, to reassure a mysterious crowd that I am still seeing things as they are.
I am abandoning the familiar strangling anxiety of the boat, the familiar unbelief.
Hilary Joan, pray. Come kneel with me and pray. It’s not too late. Trust me.
I don’t know how Jesus is speaking to you about prayer. I don’t presume to know. But if I can ask, if you would, come out here with me on the water for a little bit? Whether it is about Jackson or about something in your life, will you come out here, where the reasonable drowns in the presence of grace, where what is expected falls at the feet of the one who promised it was not too late for Jairus’s daughter? Here, in the middle of the water, there is none but us and Jesus. And we are safer here, in the arms of the one who saves us, in the hope of the one who heals us, in the mercy of the one who loves us.
Will you come out here with me on the water? Will you come and pray with me?
Jesus is here. It’s not too late, Hilary Joan. Trust me.