Baby Katie Beth

Last week a couple at our church gave birth to a precious little girl. Unbeknownst to them prior to her birth, she has a rare syndrome called Zellweger syndrome (or possibly another similar condition, tests are still being run). In either case, the prognosis is not good and she has been given between 6 months and 2 years to live. We have only spent one evening with this couple, but we have heard many praises sung about their character through mutual friends at church.

The reason I wanted to blog about this is two-fold. One, I’d like to ask all you who follow our blog to please take a minute right now and pray for them and their daughter, Katie Beth. Here is a picture of her (isn’t she so cute!? Look at all that hair!)

Secondly, (though we have yet to become better acquainted), I honestly haven’t been able to stop thinking about this couple since their little girl was born. This is partly because my heart has been aching for them and the pain they are surely enduring, and partly because, as we have been following their updates, God has really been doing a work in my heart through their response to the situation. I have been incredibly inspired by them and personally convicted as a result. Here are a few things they have written that have hit me like a ton of bricks:

-“[6 months to 2 years is] not as much time as we had hoped to have with our daughter, but we’re thankful for the time we have.”
-“On the way home we talked about how happy we were to be doing this together. There isn’t anybody else I’d rather be doing this with…we thought of couples we’ve seen pass through our community that might not be able to handle this type of stress in their life. But we’ve been in training for five years now, and, at least so far, our spirits are strong and we’re as in love as ever. God works in mysterious ways I guess.”
-“Your prayers are working, and we’ve been blessed to see God working such miracles firsthand.”
-“We continue to have hope that, no matter what happens, we can raise her up in the way that is right as an act of worship to God whom we thank for the wonderful opportunity to care for one of his children.”

Do these words convict your heart like they’ve convicted mine? Put in their situation, would you have a similar God-centered and positive outlook? As I read those words and spend time thinking about this family, God continually brings to mind all the absolutely ridiculous and comparably inconsequential things I complain about. Watching this family deal with such a difficult and devastating situation with such love and thankful hearts, has swiftly knocked me upside the head and put things into perspective for me. It reminds me of the verse in 1 Corinthians 1:27b that says: “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

Their clarity of mind and big-picture perspective in the face of such unexpected adversity moves me. I only pray that if I ever experience anything like this that I would have a similarly joyous heart. What a wonderful example of a couple who trusts the Lord and His plan so fully, and is truly living out 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “be joyous always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is not to say they aren’t grieving and experiencing pain (I’m sure they are), but I believe they are able to remain uplifted because they are grounded in their relationship with Christ and ultimately know their lives rest safely in God’s hands.

I’ll leave you with this prayer that has been on my heart:

Jesus, I pray that you would love on this family right now. I pray for healing and nothing short of a miracle for Katie Beth. Continue to give this family so much peace, hope, and joy. In times of sadness, let them know and experience your intense and passionate Fatherly love. Give them the strength to love little Katie Beth with such fervor. You have paired this couple with this precious little girl for a reason, and I pray that you would continue to use this family to bring glory to Yourself.

Jesus, please give me an ever-increasing heart of gratitude. Help me to maintain an eternal perspective and help me to remember to praise Your name in all circumstances. More than anything, thank you for loving me so much that you would send your son to die on my behalf. I am humbled and in awe of your never-ending and unconditional love.

[An update to this post was published on November 22, 2012. Click here to read it.]

Who’s askin’ whom?

I have to laugh at how backwards we often get things. Jesus was constantly dealing with how mixed-up many of our common assumptions are. Most people in His day thought that if you were rich, then God must favor you (and many people still believe this). So when He said that it was difficult for a rich man to enter heaven…His disciples pretty much freaked out. They were still following the “rich = favored by God” formula and thought, “Wow, if it is hard for the rich (God-favored) people to get into heaven, it is going to be impossible for us.” But Jesus said, “Nope, you have things backward…many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Think of all the times Jesus had to correct people’s backward thinking! We think it makes sense to strive after safety, but He said, “if you try and save your life, you will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” There are tons of examples: Loving your enemies? Having joy during trials and difficulty? Not worrying when it looks like all hope is lost? Jesus just turns our perspectives upside down.

Lately if feels like I am finding more and more of these areas where Christian’s perspectives are clouded, and there is one in particular that cuts right to the heart of our faith. Most people who have been around churches or Christians for very long have probably heard about the concept of “asking Jesus into your heart.” It might surprise you (as it surprised me), that the phrase never shows up anywhere in the Bible. I am not saying that the concept is some kind of sacrilegious theology, but I do think it might (if we are not careful), perpetuate one of those backward perspectives. Again, I am not discounting each individual’s need to make an intentional decision to follow Christ, I am only questioning how we view ourselves in light of God.

If I ask Jesus into MY heart…then it is all about me. That is not how the Bible talks about those who are saved. Again, it is backward. It is not about us asking Jesus into our heart, it is more like Jesus asking us into His heart. If you remember the story where He compares the Kingdom of heaven to a banquet, you will recall that God was the One throwing the banquet, not us. We are not inviting Jesus to our banquets because our banquets are LAME compared to His. This is the reason I felt like writing about the “asking Jesus into our hearts” concept. I think we unintentionally fall into a trap when we talk that way. We can begin to think, “God is probably really excited about me right now. I have a sweet thing going on and I totally remembered to invite Him to be a part of it.” That is wrong.

God will never be content to be a PART of our lives. It doesn’t make sense to say, “Well, I have to take care of work, family, my faith in Jesus, etc. ” Even if we put Him at the top of our list, it is just not the way we are supposed to think about His invitation. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and THE LIFE. It is HIS Kingdom we become a part of, HIS Glory we need to be concerned with, and HIS Power through which we operate. There are a few places in Scripture that talk about Christ being in us, but the vast majority emphasize a different perspective:

  • Romans 6:11 – In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
  • 2 Cor 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
  • Gal 3:27 – for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

It is easy to notice that the pattern of Scripture points toward the fact that we are in Jesus and it is all about Him. It is frightening how many times I have read over those verses and still thought my life is about me. I am going to try and stop inviting Jesus to my banquet – a small dirty table with a few scraps of rotten food, and begin accepting His invitation to the real feast.