By Ryan McBride.
Years ago, when I was 14 I got a girl pregnant. We didn’t know she was pregnant until she was trying on dresses for her sister’s wedding. She had passed out during the fitting. Her mom was rightfully concerned. They took her to the doctor. They ran all sorts of tests and through these tests they determined that she was pregnant. This was a shock to everyone. Even her and I. Turns out she was just over 5 months pregnant. We didn’t discuss whether or not to keep the baby. Her and her parents had decided that she would get an abortion. I protested this decision and said that I would keep the baby and raise him myself and to please not go through with it. I say him because the doctors told her it was a boy. She told me to f*** off! She said this is my life and my body and I’m going to do what I need to do!
I think back and remember feeling heart broken. I remember thinking, how are they going to do this (the doctor’s)? I remember thinking we were just kids and this would change everything. I was trying to justify her decision in order to deal with the pain. I remember the doctor’s walking her through how the procedure was going to take place. I’ll spare you the details. Once the procedure was done I met her at her house and I remember feeling grateful that she was ok. I recall not crying or showing any real emotion but in looking back recognizing that in that moment something in me broke. This tragedy it seems, would affect the rest of my life. Shortly after that I broke up with the girl. I didn’t give her any reason. I remember waking up one morning and thinking, I can’t do this anymore. That was the only clear thought I had. I called her and broke it off.
Fast forward about 18 years. I’m married now. My wife had been pregnant 3 different times. Not one of those babies survived. I asked God why can’t I have this one thing?! I was devastated. I remember calling a friend and crying and sharing with him about my hurt, frustration, anger, confusion and disappointment. That following Sunday at Church a woman named Colleen said she had a vision of a woman holding a baby that she had lost. She was crying. God was there comforting her. My friend and I both new that although the vision contained a woman it was God trying to reach out and comfort me. It was helpful. Several people prayed for me in that moment. I don’t remember their prayers but I do recall feeling God’s love for me and his desire for me to receive healing from this pain. I knew that I needed to forgive the girl. And so, I did. I also knew that that would help with my healing process. After a few days of grieving and mourning I began to feel better. And eventually the pain was gone.
Fast forward 2 or 3 more years. I have had this private prayer with God. It went something like this: God, if you have a child for my wife and I then please bring my wife around to the idea and I’ll see that as a confirmation from you. You see, we had decided to not try and have any more children because the loss was just too painful. Well one day upon returning from a business trip that I had been on my wife and I were driving and she said, I’m gonna ask you a question. I don’t want you to think about it. I just want you to answer with the first thing that comes to mind. She then posed the question; What do you think about trying for another baby? My response, I’m in! Without hesitation. She said, you don’t want to pray about it? I then told her about my private prayer. She had said, why didn’t you share that with me. I told her that it would have been leading and that would have defeated the purpose of God getting a hold of her in the way that he did. A year later we had our sweet little Abigail! What a gift! It was so redemptive! She’s almost 4 now. God gave us a gift that I wasn’t convinced I would never receive. Partially because I had given up on seeking that gift out. She has been such a great testament to Gods grace and kindness.
On Easter Sunday this year, I was already feeling heavy because of the greatness of the day. Jesus’ resurrection. That act of him dying in my place and being resurrected is incomprehensible. Then we saw a video at Church in which a couple in our church were detailing out the tragic loss of their little baby boy at 20 weeks pregnant and how they were learning and processing through it. This rocked me to my core! It brought all those emotions back. All the emotions that I didn’t anticipate feeling again. The couple in the video didn’t have a choice in how their loss played out. And at 14 years old I didn’t either. I had no voice. I almost couldn’t keep watching the video. I nearly walked out. I remember during the meeting asking God where he was in THAT moment and I felt him say He was right there. And I recall saying, that wasn’t enough. Just being there wasn’t enough. It’s interesting how something that tragic circles back in our lives and it’s like it happened yesterday. The pain of that loss feels so heavy and feels unbearable. I continued to pray and I felt God say that that loss is because of sin. This didn’t make me feel guilty but it did make me feel convicted. I don’t know that I ever repented for that. Easter Sunday I was able to.
It also taught me that my sin can very literally bring death. I realize that my sin is what put Jesus on the cross however I don’t think I really ever understood it the way that I do now, after Sunday. That my sin caused Jesus to have to go to the cross and die. That my sin caused the death of a little boy forcibly removed from his mother’s womb. Being confronted with that so closely and personally has helped me understand the weight and gravity of my sins and Jesus’ sacrifice and unending love for me. I could barely pray that Sunday after service. It took everything I had to not just break down. I’ve been processing all this since then and am still very tender. I was talking it out with my wife and when I told her about my prayers and when I had asked God where he was and him saying he was there and my response being that that wasn’t enough. She said she felt like God said he was there and he was taking care of Jacob (that’s what I decided to call him). I didn’t even think about the fact that this poor, helpless, absolutely innocent baby boy needed care. That there was no one there for him. That no one could be there for him. Not me, not his mom, not the doctors. No one! I was too wrapped up in my own pain.
My frustration with God just “being there” and the feelings of that not being enough were smashed into a million pieces at the fact that God was there and he was caring for my child whom I’ve yet to meet. That’s enough! It was more than enough. I couldn’t have asked for more. As I said earlier, I have offered forgiveness to that girlfriend however I am checking my heart to ensure that I have truly forgiven her. I don’t think I ever forgave her parents though. They were a driving force behind my girlfriend getting the abortion. Not the only driving force but were genuinely pushing for it. Her parents told me that I needed to keep it a secret. I don’t know how long I kept it for but I do know that it ate me up inside. I’m now working on forgiving them as well.
As of today, I am acutely aware of the effects of sin in a person’s life. My sin literally cost life. Jesus’ and Jacob’s. I am acutely aware of the blessing that I have in my children. That God chose me to be their father. That they are gift from God and they are to be treated as such. Today I am grateful that God was there for Jacob.
I am loved by God. I don’t think we have the ability to fully understand it. Ephesians 3:17-19 says: 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filed with all the fullness of God. I don’t think I’ve fully grasped what Jesus did in his willingness to be subjected to death in my place. The last few weeks have really helped me gain a new and more clear perspective on this. I had this understanding that my sin is what caused him to have to go to the cross and die. It’s the whole head heart thing. In my mind, I understood what He did. But it hadn’t penetrated deeply into my soul and heart. Through all of this I am confronted with the love of God! I can’t even begin to understand how vast and immeasurable it is. It has no bounds. We weigh, quantify and calculate everything. God’s love doesn’t fit in any of that! It truly is unimaginable, immeasurable and impossible to fully grasp. But if we just catch a glimpse of it we will be wrecked. We will ask ourselves why we don’t live out our every waking moment talking about our sweet Jesus and his sacrificial love for us. He saved me from so much more than I ever deserved to be saved from. He saves me daily as I wrestle through this life and its temptations. He has saved into so much more than what he saved me from. I didn’t receive the gift of a life time, I received the gift of all time – eternity! You too have received this same gift!
And I leave you with this. You really are more loved that you could ever imagine. Ask him to just give you a small peek. Ask him into your pain. He’s there and he’s caring for you in ways that you might not expect. Trust me, it’s worth it!