That day was a beautiful June day in Minnesota. Kristie was 28 weeks pregnant, I had the day off of work and I was about to go golfing. Kristie mentioned to me that she wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t know if anything was wrong, she simply said, “Something doesn’t feel right.” So she called the doctor and they told her that, although everything was probably just fine, she should come in just to make sure everything was okay with the baby.
We drove to the doctor’s office, and they discovered that she had begun dilating. Soon after that, she began having contractions. When they couldn’t get those to stop, they put her in an ambulance and rushed her to a different hospital in downtown Minneapolis that was better prepared to handle a baby born so early.
I followed a few minutes behind, making the drive to the hospital. It’s funny the things I remember from that ride—I remember how nice it was, perfect temperature, clear blue skies, setting sun, windows down. I wasn’t playing any music in the car, which is rare for me, but in that moment listening to music seemed out of place.
In my car that night, God and I had our blunt conversation.
“I need you.”
That’s all I said.
I was at a loss for more words. In those moments I was unsure of what was happening and somewhat in shock. I was unsure if I was about to be a father for the second time. Our baby wasn’t due for another three months. We hadn’t discussed any names or even found out if it was a boy or a girl. There were any number of things that we weren’t ready for because, after all, we thought we had another three months to . . . you know . . . pick names and paint bedrooms and all the stuff you do when you’re about to have a baby. I was on my way to the golf course a few hours earlier and now I was driving to the hospital. I was quickly realizing the wide range of scenarios that could play out in the next few hours, everything from doctors stopping the labor and everything being fine, to the baby being born and being fine, to the baby being born with any number of serious health complications, to the baby being born and dying soon after.
“I need you.”
And God responded, as clear as I’ve ever heard Him:
“Do you trust me?”
And honestly, I needed a minute to think about it.
I wanted a different response from God. I wanted God’s response to be, “Don’t worry, I’m locating the heavenly contractions lever and I’m powering it down right now.” (Just like Obi Wan when he powered down the Death Star force field, making that same peeuuuwwwwwwww sound.)
I wanted God to give me the Superman response: “What’s this? You’re in trouble, Jeff? I’m ON IT! DA-da-da-DAAAAAH!” (That is supposed to sound like Superman music—apparently I want a God who communicates using boyhood sound effects.)
But all I got from Him was, “Do you trust me?”
“Yes” was my eventual reply. I did trust God.
“Do you trust me even if they can’t stop the labor and this baby is born tonight?”
I needed another minute.
“Do you trust me even if this baby is born tonight and it doesn’t survive?”
I needed a couple more minutes for that one. And I was beginning to get a bit annoyed. But honestly, deep in my heart, I knew this wasn’t God being a nag, and He wasn’t adding salt to the wound. This was a heart-check moment to see the level of my devotion. I had to cast aside all religious pretense and predictable Sunday School answers and decide if I trusted in a good, holy, loving God NO MATTER WHAT happened next. Or had I reached the limits of my devotion?
“Yes, I trust You . . . no matter what happens.”
Charlie was born that night.
Today, he is a healthy ten-year-old boy. He’s a miracle. In the past ten years there have been countless opportunities for me to thank God for my son. There have also been about a million more “I trust you” conversations that I’ve had with God regarding Charlie, including four days later when the doctor told us that Charlie wasn’t going to make it. I’ll get into THAT in the next chapter.
Perhaps you are reading this and you are in the midst of one of those honest, heart-check, gut-wrenching conversations with God: “Why is this happening to me?”
In those moments, we all must remember that victory over tough obstacles is not the goal, but rather, full devotion to God is the goal. God is looking over the whole earth for those who are fully devoted to Him. Our goal is full devotion, and our goal remains unchanged when we receive the miraculous victory and when we don’t.
This means we never get to the point where we have reached the limit to our devotion. It means that we never declare an area of our lives as “off limits” to God. It means that we trust Him completely, even if the outcome is not what we were hoping for.
I don’t know all the reasons God chose to bring Charlie into the world the way He did that day. I know that we’ve seen God use that experience to bring encouragement and hope to others who are going through the same thing. I know God used that day and the months that followed as the most significant season of spiritual growth in my life. And I know that He’s used that day as a reminder He does indeed work miracles.