Since we were engaged, Mike and I have made a habit of praying for something very special to us: our future children.
I know this won’t make 100% sense to some of you, but to others it may be deeply encouraging. If you don’t understand, it’s o.k… just let me be me.
Before either of our two children were even conceived we have prayed for both of them. We have asked the Lord for specific words for them and about them. We have asked him to direct us as to how to pray for our children, before we even knew them.
For Olivia- whose name means “Peace”– it was the mantel of King David we asked for. He was a warrior- strong and brave. But he was also humble and gentle. He was a tender worshipper before the Lord.
The morning of our ultrasound to discover the gender of our baby, I opened my Bible and literally landed on Judges 5:24-27 & 31. It is the a song written about the woman Jael who humbly and without fear took an enemy prince into her home, served him, lulled him into a sense of safety, and then killed him, doing what 10,000 armed warriors had been too afraid to do.
The last verse reads, “‘Lord, may all your enemies die as Sisera did! But may those who love you rise like the sun at full strength!’ Then there was PEACE in the land for forty years.” After 20 years of brutal oppression under Sisera, the Lord used the humility and strength of this woman, and then blessed her obedience with a double fold amount of peace.
I knew that morning with 100% confidence that the ultrasound tech would tell us we were having a girl, whose name we had already picked out. Olivia. Peace.
“My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him…”
A covenant of Life and Peace- that is what he says he has given his priests (and all believers are priests, according to the New Covenant). For whatever reason, that verse struck me, and I knew that while the thought of the next baby was only a far off seed in my mind at that point, the next baby’s life would be marked by the word Life. Before we even were talking about the second pregnancy, we knew we wanted to name the next boy Malachi (“my messanger”- an obvious connection to this verse!), and the next girl Evelyn, or Avelyn (“life”).
Fast forward about a year.
We were starting to talk about and pray about baby #2. As I was praying one afternoon, this line came to mind: “looking toward the city whose builder and maker is God.” I knew it was from the Bible, but had no idea where. I was actually in the shower as I was praying and thinking, though, so I wasn’t able to look it up, and by the time I was out of the shower I had pretty much moved on in my mind to other things.
It wasn’t until that evening that the thought came back to me. I opened my Beth Moore Bible study for that evening, I was in the middle of her “Believing God” study, and the verse of the day? “For [Abraham] was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” Hebrews 11:10. Bam. Right there.
I knew this was the verse for baby #2– to have the mantle of our patriarchs who were looking ahead to the promise that was to come.
I journaled a prayer- words like “still,” quiet,” and “intercessor” flowed.
But that wasn’t the end of it. The next night, as I was again praying for this baby, I had a picture come into my mind. I saw Jesus approach me, and in his hand was a BRILLIANT sapphire, which he handed to me. I told Mike about it and we immediately started looking up what we could about sapphires.
My first thought was, birthstone?? I knew if we were to get pregnant the next month we would be due in September, the month whose birthstone is… sapphire. Little did I know, but I was actually already pregnant and on course for a July 22nd due date. Not birthstone.
But as we researched we also found out that sapphire is one of the most prominent gemstones mentioned in the foundation of the New Jerusalem (cough cough… the city whose builder and maker is God?) It also describes the foundation of the throne room of God in heaven. It is a color that symbolizes philosophy and introspection.
Talk about directive prayer. (Did I just lose you? It’s ok. Just please keep an open mind and heart to what was my experience. And be encouraged by what you may!)
The Brilliant Sapphire
On January 20th, all of these visions of my next baby came crashing down around me when I learned that my baby’s heart had stopped beating at 11 weeks embryonic age (I was 13 weeks “pregnant.”) It felt like a promise ripped in half. I was in the mist of the usual questioning and confusion that accompanies all of life’s griefs.
A friend of mine who also recently had late 2nd trimester miscarriage of twin girls suggested to me the book Heaven is for Real. In her suggestion she also mentioned that one thing that had helped her was knowing that her babies (she lost twins) were now in heaven praying for her.
Something about that passing thought really struck me. One of my questions to God had been “How can any of this be in your plan or make sense!??” How could this baby have had the promise to be an intercessor, to look ahead to the promise that is yet to come, to have the name life, and then not live??
It was through that simple suggestion that little puzzle piece clicked in my heart. She is alive. She is filled with Life forever more! She is now a brilliant gemstone in the foundation of the city of our God! And most spectacularly, she is an intercessor with Jesus at the throne of Mercy and Grace! She is one of the brilliant lights that we call the Great Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), cheering us on in the race of life. One of the brilliant lights that reflects the Son and causes a brilliant rainbow to surround the throne (Revelation 4:3)!
It can’t and won’t make sense to some of you, but my heart overflows to the point of overwhelming gratitude at the image that has been painted in my own heart. It didn’t make all of the grief and questions disappear, but that revelation has been a raft of hope and peace in the middle of the storm.
Perhaps that helps explain as well my earnest desire to have a natural miscarriage and not take the seemingly quick and easy (but in actuality, not so easy) path out? I’m glad I made the decision I did. It was and continues to be the perfect choice for me for this pregnancy for this chapter of my life, however intense the journey. But- ha!- would it have been any less intense or worthwhile had I traveled any other path?
Where, Oh Death, Is Your Victory?
In closing to this brilliant, harrowing, intense, heart shaping experience, I want to share with you one last thing I wrote in an email to a few friends in the day or two after we first learned of the impending miscarriage. I believe these words were not just meant for me, but for others who grieve over the loss of life on earth:
“The name Avelyn is a derivative of the name Eve which means Life. We are trusting God that whether or not she lives outside my womb on the earth or is in heaven, she has been destined for Life since before time began. Today I was reminded of the verse, “Where oh death is your victory; where oh death is your sting?” Even if Avelyn’s physical body perishes, death still has no victory over her life. The word also says that children are an arrow in their parent’s quivers and that we will not be put to shame when we meet the enemy at the gate because of our offspring. This has new meaning as I imagine my children, both in life and death, as divinely aimed arrows. Where oh death is your sting? I ask that as I meet the enemy at the gate my dear children would be a straight shot arrow that stings the heart of the enemy, the one who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Death has no victory because we, in Christ Jesus, have already been victorious.”
I hope that whatever else you gain from reading this blog, you understand that there are much deeper things going on in our lives than the simple external and temporal. There are things to wonderful for minds to comprehend, things to deep for words to express. I encourage you: let go of your fear, your security, your insecurities, and take a step with me into that great Unknowable. He has revelation there for you too.