I had a profound experience a few days ago. In July we welcomed another baby boy into the “grand” fold. He has three siblings so their house is always filled with activity and n o i s e. His older brother, Hub, is a mere 362 days older. Thankfully, he’s pretty content to wander around and entertain himself on most days, but once his sisters returned to school – he was a little lost. Accustomed to all the energy and entertainment they provided, the quiet was a little difficult for him to understand. Plus, there was this new person in the crowd, one that seemed to take up much of his mother’s time. Hmmm.
When I would visit I would intentionally spend the majority of my time with Hub. That freed up Mom to attend to the baby Clark and give Hub some relief from missing his sisters. Hub is a delightful little fellow that is constantly on the move and already has decided preferences about play – the rougher and rowdier the better. I would typically wait until Hub napped to get some snuggle time with the baby. And on this particular day, it was just the three of us. Me, the (finally) napping Hub, and newborn Clark.
After feeding the baby his bottle, he rested in my arms. Wide awake. Clark looks at me with penetrating eyes, almost as if trying to communicate a message to me. Now I know all the developmental stuff. Babies can’t really see or focus at that age. But it reminded me of a precious moment that occurred when our first granddaughter was born. Flashback with me nine years earlier. . .
Our first grand spent almost three months in the neonatal intensive care unit. And at 3 months old, still a tiny little thing she and her parents stayed with us while their new home was being completed. A beloved friend that had moved out of state returned to our community for a visit shortly after the 3 month old “newborn” came home. Our friend Belle was a delightful, carefree spirit that loved life, people (all people) and God. Her transparency rivaled that of an innocent four year old. She simply saw the good and redeeming qualities in everyone.
Belle could not wait to hold and talk to this newborn child. The conversation went something like this.
Belle: “Oh you beautiful blessed child! What a gift you are. Just look at you, full of possibilities and wonder. Tell me, please, I’m so eager to know . . . What did God share with you before you left? . . . ” (pauses, listening)
Newborn: stares intently at Belle.
Belle: “Isn’t it exciting?! God has such wonderful plans for you! What was it like there? It’s been so long, I’m afraid that I’ve forgotten. But you just left so you remember! Please, little one, you must never forget. Don’t let us distract you from his message to you. Don’t let us make you forget your purpose. Did he have a message for me?!” (pauses, listening)
Newborn: stares intently, never leaving Belle’s gaze.
Belle: “Thank you, beautiful one. Thank you. God bless you, oh – He already did! That’s right! Well, thank you for sharing and helping me to remember.”
Was I shocked? No. This was Belle, our free-spirited-open to all possibilities -the glass isn’t half full, it’s running over: Belle. Maybe she sounds eccentric to someone else, perhaps. But this is our Belle. Did I even question what Belle “heard” from our newborn granddaughter? No. And that was my mistake. I found that out just a few weeks ago. Now back to present day, me feeding the newborn Clark.
As he snuggled comfortably in my arms it appeared that he looked right through me. I mean, right through me to the essence of who I am. It actually startled me for a moment. Then, without plan or forethought, I began to talk to him, very much as Belle had spoken to our granddaughter nine years earlier. It didn’t even occur to me at that moment. I was so transfixed by his penetrating stare that it drew me in to a conversation. And there I was asking this newborn about God; what message and purpose God shared with him before he left and reminding him to never forget. To never let the world distract him to forget. I sat there looking into his eyes for what seemed a long time but neither of us could look away.
That was a sacred moment. I knew that in my arms was the physical manifestation of one that had very recently been in the very presence of God. I had no doubt that indeed God shared with him the plan, purpose and message that he was to share with the world. And perhaps for the first time I really understood what Belle meant nine years ago. She was reminding not only that tiny baby but her mother and grandmother to never let the child forget to whom she really belonged.
If you’re a parent, you know all the possibilities, the expectations, the plans and dreams you had for your child even before they were born. And if we’re not very careful, those plan and dreams become our focus instead of God’s plans and dreams for them. Be honest, did it occur to you that God had whispered a special message to your child just before he left Him in order to become a part of your world? Thirty-four years ago I never even considered it. Yes, I wanted my child to be a Christian, to give her heart to God, to live for and serve Him. But did I make THAT my focus? Did I remind her daily of His plan for her? Did I ask her to remember?
Romans 12:2 is a powerful reminder of those distractions we face,
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I will not forget. I will seek to help my grandchildren always remember. The world is SO full of distractions that pull at us from every angle. Even our very youngest cannot escape them unless we are intentional about it. So, let’s make that a vital part of our parenting and grand-parenting. Look into a newborn’s eyes and listen for the whisper from heaven they share with you.
In His Grace,