Monday, September 10, 2012

The Umbilical Cord

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” -James 1:2-3
In life, it's so easy to misinterpret bad things for good things and good things for bad things. Paul challenges us to, "Consider it all joy when we encounter various trials." But when we're actually in the middle of tragedy or difficulty, it's hard to see the good in the trial. However, so often, difficulties are blessings in disguise. If we're not careful, we can wish for the removal of something only to find that it's something good. My precious daughter, Elizabeth, and her wonderful husband, Mark, are expecting their second daughter in January. Reese is our two-year old granddaughter and she'll be a great big sister. We've been so excited for baby number two. But we had some difficult news last week. Elizabeth went in for an ultrasound and they saw indicators that the baby might have a cleft pallet. Many have received more difficult news, but we were disappointed for the surgeries that would be required. The doctor told Elizabeth that they would do a more detailed ultrasound in a week and that there was a chance it could be negative. We all joined in prayer and resolved that if it was a cleft pallet, the trials of surgeries to come would be part of God's plan. We were reminded that every child is "fearfully and wonderfully made", defects and all. But at the same time, we prayed for a healthy baby. The week went by very slowly (as they always do in these situations), and Elizabeth called later that morning to give us the news. "The baby’s umbilical cord had been hanging in front of her face causing a shadow and that's what they thought was the cleft pallet. The baby is fine." We were all relieved. It's amazing that an umbilical cord, the very pathway used to nurture and provide life for a child in the womb, could be mistaken for a birth defect. God knows how to turn bad things into good things. Just ask Joseph. He was taken through deception and betrayal by his very flesh and blood. He was sold into slavery and thrown into prison. He had every right to be bitter and angry. But instead, he embraced forgiveness and did not "take into account a wrong suffered." He acknowledged that God could take a bad thing and use it for good. Jim Lovell, the Apollo 13 astronaut, described a time he saw bad used for good. "I remember this one time - I'm in a Banshee at night in combat conditions, so there's no running lights on the carrier. It was the Shrangri-La, and we were in the Sea of Japan and my radar had jammed, and my homing signal was gone... because somebody in Japan was actually using the same frequency. And so it was - it was leading me away from where I was supposed to be. And I'm lookin' down at a big, black ocean, so I flip on my map light, and then suddenly: zap. Everything shorts out right there in my cockpit. All my instruments are gone. My lights are gone. And I can't even tell now what my altitude is. I know I'm running out of fuel, so I'm thinking about ditching in the ocean. And I, I look down there, and then in the darkness there's this uh, there's this green trail. It's like a long carpet that's just laid out right beneath me. And it was the algae, right? It was that phosphorescent stuff that gets churned up in the wake of a big ship. And it was - it was - it was leading me home. You know? If my cockpit lights hadn't shorted out, there's no way I'd ever been able to see that. So uh, you, uh, never know... what... what events are to transpire to get you home." We need to be careful what we pray. The very thing we ask to be removed might be the very thing that takes us home. Umbilical cords need to stay put but cockpit lights need to go out. God's will is always best in the long run. It's so much better to rest in His will. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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