Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Upside Down Birth

Julien and Christina with Jonathan
Dear Baby Jonathan,
The nurses and doctors jeered and mocked. I could see them at the nurses' station. They couldn't understand why your birth was so momentous and why the whole family was there to meet you. These sorts of professionals see the miracle of life every day. Why was it different this time?
They cannot look a deformed baby in the face. They would have preferred your parents get rid of it (you) in secret and put an end to this suffering months ago. But your parents were much braver and stronger than that. Instead of skulking away into darkness and taking your life into their own hands, they placed you into the hands of God, your Maker. They let Him make the decision of when to take your life because He gave you to them in the first place. It was not easy. They cried a lot. They had to say good-bye to you before they ever met you because they didn't know that you would be born alive. But you surprised them! What a gift that was.

The medical staff at the hospital couldn't see beauty in you. But your daddy's first words when he saw you were, "He's so beautiful!" That was the truth your heavenly Father spoke to you through your earthly father. In the delivery room, the night you were born, everything was upside down. The things we all tend to live for, whether making money, being famous, having a big house, a great career, the freedom of choice, being beautiful and self-fulfilled, having brains--none of those things meant anything when you appeared. People hate weakness, vulnerability, pain and sorrow. They cannot stand mistakes or being confronted with the agony of death which you represented. But God sees beyond superficiality and looks at weakness with different eyes. What we can accomplish though our talents means little to him. Our outward appearance impresses him even less. Your life was precious and beautiful in God's eyes. You were no mistake to Him. You were His child and what difference did it make to Him that you only lived 9 hours? Whether 9 hours or 99 years, He loved you just the same, had brought you this far and his purpose for your life was, indeed, accomplished, in spite of its sadness for us. In light of eternity, all of our lives are a mere dot on the timeline of infinity.

"Why prolong this ridiculous morbid display?" I felt the nurses screaming silently as we watched you ebb away. Your life may have seemed like a curse:  fragile, futile and ugly and yet, Jonathan, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Christ, your good shepherd King was despised and rejected by men, weak, hungry, whipped, nailed naked to a cross. He too was accursed. “His visage was marred more than any man He has no form or comeliness, and when we see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, an man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid our faces from Him; he was despised and we did not esteem Him.” (from Isaiah 52-53). They mocked and jeered too. “Save yourself,” they cried. But His very weakness was His strength. His suffering was his glory. His death ushered in his life and his curse became a blessing to the entire universe. His life was upside down too. Jonathan, you were in good company. 

Family surrounding Jonathan
Your short little life of frailty accomplished so much more on God’s scale than any great politician, any CEO, any celebrity. Though you never climbed a career ladder, you climbed the stairway to heaven by going down. Your life was an opportunity God used to glorify himself through weakness, as He loves to do. You never had a chance to choose Him, but it was clear that He had chosen you! 

The doctor who delivered you had lost a son at birth, also named Jonathan. This was no coincidence! She cried the whole way through. We prayed over her that your life and death would be a healing balm for her soul, a picture of what God wanted to do in her. You brought more tears of joy and sadness together than Hollywood will ever produce. You revealed God himself to us better than any theological book or eloquent preacher. You brought a family together better than any carefully planned reunion. You drew people to God who may have never dreamed they would see His light in the darkness of their despair. 

We cheered your breathing on as fans cheer on their favorite athlete. Your every struggling breath was a reminder to us of the preciousness of life and that all of our days are numbered. You ran well, dear Jonathan. You were a tremendous fighter. You did not give up easily and you proved to the entire watching world that life is well worth living, that is, if one can see the world as God does, upside down.
Dennis Johnson baptizing his grandson

Jonathan, my nephew, and first child born to Julien and Christina Jones, would have been a teenager this summer. He was diagnosed with amniotic bands at 5 months in utero. He was baptized by his grandfather, Dennis Johnson, and died 9 hours after his birth. He is buried in Escondido, CA. He will always be remembered by his family. Because he was a Covenant child and we believe God is merciful, we look forward to seeing him again. But the story did not end with Jonathan's death! Julien and Christina now have 3 more precious children and are seeking to adopt a special needs child from China.