Friday, March 7, 2014

God Loves Me, This I KNOW

In March 1987, I gave birth to my second child, Kyle. He appeared to be a perfect, normal baby. Several hours later, it became apparent that something was horribly wrong. Doctors discovered that Kyle had a coarctation—a narrowing of the aorta as it branched off of his heart. This coarctation caused excessive strain on his heart and poor circulation to his extremities. Surgery was the only option.

The next day, Kyle’s surgery lasted five hours instead of the anticipated two. Consequently, Kyle was on a heart-lung machine, was “iced down,” and received oxygen for much longer than he should have. However, the doctors felt that the operation had been successful and that Kyle would go home approximately two weeks later.

Things did not proceed as planned. Because he had been iced down for such an extended period of time, Kyle’s kidneys had failed and his lower body was paralyzed. The high oxygen content he had received had probably caused blindness. Most significantly, his heart was exhausted. The harsh reality was that Kyle was going to die.

I bent down and kissed his tiny, precious forehead. My voice quivered as I told him that I loved him. He opened his eyes and looked at me. That was the one and only time he looked at anyone. His gaze pierced my heart and soul. Although I was not a believer at the time, I knew that God had kept Kyle alive to give me that moment.

Two hours later, Kyle went into cardiac arrest. CPR is routinely performed for 30 minutes before death is pronounced. After 25 minutes, and after watching Kyle’s heart and brain activity nearly stop, I asked the doctor to cease the CPR. I had never held Kyle, and I wanted to do so while he was still alive. I wanted him to die in the comfort and warmth of my arms rather than on a cold, hard table. I held him close, memorizing every detail about him. Five minutes later, I felt his last breath upon my face. The inconceivable had happened: my son had died. Little did I know that Kyle’s death would bring me to life.

For the next eighteen months, I was filled with an overwhelming anger and hatred towards God. Yet through that dark period, the memory of Kyle’s last breath upon my face stirred something deep within me. After a series of events well orchestrated by God, I walked into the 13th week of a 14-week Bible study. That morning, I discovered that God sent His Son to die on a cross simply because He loved me. God used that truth to draw me closer to Him, until I could no longer resist the magnetic pull of His love. Kyle’s death—the most painful event of my life—turned out to be my life’s greatest blessing because it led me to Christ. There are many things in this world that I will never know or understand, but this one thing I know: God loves me.

Today, as I commemorate the 27th anniversary of Kyle's death, I must admit that I still grieve. Not a single day passes without me thinking about Kyle and wishing that I could hold him for just a moment. Although my arms may be empty, my heart and soul are full because I trust in and cling to the promises God has made to me.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10) 

God expressed His love for me by sending Jesus to die for me.

"and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)

When I experience my final homecoming, I will be reunited with Kyle. My arms will no longer be empty and I will no longer grieve.

Do you know that God loves you? Despite the circumstances of your life—the things you have felt, thought, said, done, and experienced—God sent Jesus to die on the cross for you simply because He loves you. Step into today with an open heart so that you, too, may truly know that God loves you.

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