Breathing Life in the Culture of Death
When the first drops of blood fell, I began a journey to life, though I didn’t know it at the time. In the months after my unborn baby slipped out of my body, God showed me something priceless that I had paid lip service to, but my heart was far from believing: life is precious, children are a blessing, and God can be trusted.
Jesse and I already had the million-dollar family: a boy and a girl. A lot of people commented that we must be done. We joked, “Nah, we’re going for a multi-million dollar family.”
I have wanted every baby that has been conceived in my womb. I just haven’t wanted them to come closer together than two years, afraid I might go crazy or that I might look to others like a run down, exhausted, and overwhelmed rabbit factory who doesn’t “know what causes that.” Fear of having kids close in age infected my thoughts and choices.
Anyway, here I was, pregnant with baby three, who was going to be just over two years younger than its big sister. I felt like I could handle this, and we were excited! In between waves of nausea, that is. When the waves settled early, I was pretty happy. Until the blood dripped and I found out the baby had already died in my womb over a month ago.
We buried baby Davey by my sister’s grave. And I walked out of that cemetery shaken to my core, because I finally realized the truth: All human life is God-given and sacred.
Until Davey died, I think I subconsciously believed that life was only a blessing if it came on my timetable. If my children were born close in age, that was my “mistake,” and they really should not have showed up when they did.
I said the right things on the outside, but inside me there grew a culture of death.
It is in the air we all breathe. This culture of death has great and potent arguments against the Creator of Life: We need to pace ourselves, we need to know our limitations and be wise in how many children we choose to have. We shouldn’t keep on having kids if our motivation is just because we feel pressured to, or because we feel less-than as women unless we are breeding like rabbits.
These arguments take our eyes off the issue at stake: Is all life God-ordained and sacred? No matter when it comes, no matter whether we felt ready for it at the moment or not, no matter how much it will demand from us when it arrives.
Every life is precious because God brings it into existence. We don’t. Ever. In our era of artificial reproduction methods and contraceptives, this truth is smoke screened. We do not have the power to create life, even though scientific advances imply that we do. We are definitely learning more about sexual reproduction and how to create an environment that seemingly increases the odds of sparking life or preventing life.
But God alone is sovereign over the marriage of every egg and sperm that blossoms into a human being.
And as I found, heartbreakingly, with my baby Davey, even when life buds, it does not always bloom like we may hope it will.
Children do not suck the marrow out of life. They enrich it. They bring blessing! They are blessings.
My children have brought the most challenging experiences of my life so far. They have also brought me some of my greatest joys… expanding joy that almost splits my heart wide open. No doubt you know what I mean from remembering the unique, heart-pounding joys in your life.
Watching our kids play and talk together is a delight that draws Jesse and me closer to each other. They make us laugh till the tears come, and they make us pray fervently for help. It’s an indescribable marvel, seeing the fruit of our love. We didn’t deserve or earn this gift at all. And I’ve nearly said “no” to it many times.
God is pouring out good gifts – blessings – on us constantly. He is continually calling us to revel in His kindness and beauty. His nature is to give, and one of the things He loves to give is life. We are continually turning down blessings, even if we don’t realize it at the time.
Meditating on Him through His word is a blessing. I have turned that blessing away countless times. Nope, too busy. Don’t have time. It is my loss. Yet He is no less gracious toward me, and continues to offer me the joy found in His presence. That is always available to me.
Ministering to others is a blessing. I often shy away from opening up my life to others or entering their lives because I fear that they will reject, judge or misunderstand me. Honestly, I almost did not write this article because of fear. I feared backlash.
What changed my mind? As much as I fear man, I fear God more. And I write these words for myself more than for anyone else: I want to solidify these core truths in my own thoughts so that when I walk through the culture of death, which is daily, I can remember what’s really at stake.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (I John 4:18)
Am I afraid of what a new life will demand from me? Am I afraid of how another child might sometimes feel like a trap, a punishment? Am I afraid of my child growing up to walk away from God?
This is not an accurate equation: Fewer children equals fewer challenges or less heartache. The quality of our parenting does not depend on the number of children we have. The paths our children choose does not completely depend on the quality of our parenting.
Ten siblings can grow up to rebel and spit in the face of God. An only child can do the same. God would grieve both outcomes, and for the rest of their lives, He would not stop calling all of them to return to Him.
Does God ever make a mistake when he creates a precious life?
Are there people who come into this world while God groans, “Oh no, another life I have to provide for?” Of course not! But we believe similar things because Satan cloaks them in spiritual-sounding language about “being responsible.”
Remember, to some people, abortion is the most “responsible” choice they have.
How can we stand up for the unborn and claim to be pro-life, if we deep-down believe that there are children who should not be here, that some families irresponsibly had “too many kids.” God has eternal purposes for each of us. It is not our job to judge which humans should or should not be on earth.
Stories are brandished like weapons in this debate over how many kids to have. What about my friend who was told by her doctor that she would die from complications if she got pregnant again? I am not here to answer for my friend. I am not supposed to be the two-edged sword, “judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)
And besides, for every story against there is a story for. What about my other friend who was diagnosed with lymphoma and found out she was pregnant right before starting treatment? Human wisdom would have said, “Abort that baby. It will compromise your health even more.”
“That baby” saved his mother’s life. God used her pregnancy to heal her lymphoma.
So I point you back to the question you and I and my friend have to ask ourselves in such bewildering, often frightening, situations, “Can God be trusted?”
That is the crux. And how that shakes out in other people’s lives is between them and God. I can look in from the outside and judge whether I think they are trusting God or not (and I have done this many times, God forgive me), but only He knows for sure. It is to Him we must go in these times and lay bare our hearts:
Are You totally trustworthy?
If You call us to risk everything to follow You, will we?
There are women who embrace life, even when others urge them not to, or call them irresponsible. Even when they have already walked through one or more babies’ screaming colic, reflux, gasping breaths, congenital diseases and malformations, surgeries, sleepless night terrors, chromosomal abnormalities. They are heroes to me. Human wisdom tells them, “Stop! What do you think you are doing, getting pregnant with another child who might have as many problems as the last one?” I have so much respect for these women! They are seeking to trust God.
Do you think a loving heavenly Father would ever punish a woman for giving her womb to God to use as He chooses?
We often equate hardship with punishment for some form of irresponsibility. We think: If we were more responsible, we would have less pain. But God uses hard things to sanctify us, to reverse the curse on this planet, and to create heavenly rewards.
There are women whose lives of sacrifice and trust in God have earned my greatest respect. No, not all of them have had children. Amy Carmichael didn’t. Yet she was spiritual mother to thousands, and her influence changed the generational course of many Indians’ lives. Gladys Aylward didn’t, but her sacrifices saved over a hundred Chinese children.
They were still fully women, still fully nurturing souls created by God, still fully used by Him.
We are only less than who we are meant to be when we are trusting in our own understanding and wrestling life into a position that we think we can handle.
I talked about fear earlier, and how the culture of death wields fear to keep us from embracing God’s blessings.
Let these words cleanse our angst.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3, ESV)
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread…for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Deut. 31:6, ESV)
Please do not end this article saying, “There, see? She just told me to have as many kids as physiologically possible, because if I don’t, I’m not trusting God.”
You miss my point entirely.
What I am pleading with you to do is ask yourself: Am I motivated by fear? Am I afraid God will give me more than I think I can handle?
Please don’t make a choice driven by fear.
If He does give us more than we can handle, is He still trustworthy?
Lie: Having a pile of kids and raising them to build God’s kingdom on earth is morally superior and more acceptable in God’s sight.
Lie: Having only a couple of kids and raising them to build God’s kingdom on earth is morally superior and more acceptable in God’s sight.
Lie: Having no kids and raising “spiritual children” to build God’s kingdom on earth is morally superior and more acceptable in God’s sight.
Truth: What God yearns for most from us is to see life as sacred, children as a blessing, and to trust Him and not walk in fear.
I don’t know what trusting God is going to look like in your life. It will look a little different in mine. I speak strongly here, because I know the intensity of the struggle for life. In each of my pregnancies, I fight fear and doubt. I need reminders of truth more than anyone!
Let me say again that the issue here is not: Big families are more precious in His sight. It is: As the giver of life, is God trustworthy?
If our honest answer is “no,” then we need to get on our faces in prayer till we can say “yes.” Not just in regard to the number of children we have, but in every other area of our lives. Walking the path of I-Can’t-Trust-God may be a gentle slope, but it heads straight to death.
Related Article: Is God the Author of Every Human Life?
Andrew • May 2, 2015
Excellent article! Well written! Through our experience, we shout resoundingly “Yes, God can be trusted!”
Leslie • May 2, 2015
Amen! It is true, I agree. Thank you for writing this.
Jyl • May 2, 2015
Thanks for writing this article Heidi. It covers many things I’ve been thinking through and is an encouragement. When I first got married I was excited to have kids and wanted to surrender my life to God in the area of children. However, His ways are not our ways and his plan was for us not to have kids right away . This was challenging for me to accept at first and I realized I wasn’t fully trusting Him. It took me on a journey of faith and I’ve learned so much. It also gave me a new appreciation of life, realizing every child is a gift and miracle from God. God can be trusted, even though there are many times we don’t understand what He is doing, we can trust He knows best.
David • May 5, 2015
I love the perspective you have shared here.