He stopped me as I made my way through the crowded church foyer, baby on my hip.
“Thank you for sharing that,” he told me. An older man, with grandchildren just a little younger than me, we’d spoken a few times but never beyond basic pleasantries. It was the morning of Rose’s dedication, April 2018.
When we met with our pastor to discuss Rose’s dedication, I asked if a particular song might be included in the worship set for that morning’s service. The song is called “Shepherd” and it’s by Amanda Cook. It has a chorus that states:
How I love you, How I love you
You have not forsaken me.
How I love you, How I love you,
With you is where I want to be.
It is a praise song, a love song to the Lord. It was popular in the fall of 2016 and our church sang it a lot. Every week, it felt like. And I could not sing that chorus. I choked on those words. I felt that God had forsaken me. I wasn’t sure what it meant to love God anymore and I wasn’t sure what it meant that He loved me. He had allowed our so loved, so wanted baby to die before we ever met him. I had been forsaken.
Slowly that fall, slowly and painfully, God worked at my heart and that song followed me everywhere. For my birthday, my friend Dawn sent me a copy of Amanda Cook’s CD. She had no idea that the song meant anything special to me. The song needled into my brain and I sang it at bedtime to Pearl, often in tears. That song led me to Psalm 22 where Jesus cries out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God was revealing new things to me, a new side of Him, full of His own grief and love.
So when we stood in front of our church community and dedicated our baby Rose back to the Lord, our answer to prayer, I knew I wanted to sing that song again. Our pastor invited me to say a few words about why I requested the song.
There had been other services where this man had shared portions of his own testimony and I knew that his family had a rich heritage of prayer and of trusting in God. I knew some of their stories and the works God had done.
“I pray every day,” he told me that morning. “And often God places people in my mind and so I pray for them. Last fall, He brought you to my mind a lot and I prayed for you. For you and Peter. I didn’t now why. But I do now.”
I was too stunned to fully respond. I thanked him, I gestured to Rose in my arms and told him that his prayers had made a difference.
But later, as it sank in, I was in awe of how God works. In some of my darkest moments, when I felt most abandoned by God, He was holding me deep in His heart. He was placing me on the minds of people who didn’t know my story but who were faithful to God and who prayed for me. I know this man was not the only one praying for our family that season. Some of those prayers I know of, there are likely many others I don’t.
I want to share a little of what I’ve been learning in the past years, on my path to motherhood. It has been approximately five years since Peter and I made the choice to become parents and it has been a humbling and hard and beautiful time. The path has not been what I expected on the summer day, sitting on our deck, when we decided that we were “ready”. These stories are my witness to what God has done, is doing, and will do for our family.