Ever since I buried my sixth son five years ago, I have been praying for a miracle.
I longed to have my baby back at first, to be the modern day Abraham and embrace my little Bryce the way he had his Isaac. His boy returned. Obviously, this is not the miracle God desired for me. Instead, He has taught me to embrace the longing for eternity. The hope that one day death will be no more and my little boy will show me the ways of glory he has lived in my missing him.
When it was clear that my miracle was going to look different, I began to beg for another little one to come to our family. For another life to grow inside me and make its way into my heart and arms. A little miracle baby to glue us back together again.
Four times the pink lines have appeared on the stick, indicating the presence of that miracle. And four times a little heart has quit beating and the black screen has shown a still little form who was gone before he ever arrived. Four more times the miracle of life has turned into the pain of loss.
I have struggled many days to find the miracle there, though my faith assures me that the Savior is always working for my good.
I lean in to the man I love and the five boys who are still here with me, filling my days with joy. I lean in to a new life on the mission field and a growing vision for our ministry to mothers. I lean into writing and encouraging and connecting my story to other women. I slow and still and listen to my Father whispering a thousand “I love you’s” through the trees and the skies and the warm mug of coffee.
I realize that what I long for most is the miracle of being known. Of living in the embrace of a God who knows the longing of my heart, who sometimes delivers a different miracle than the one I expected, and who holds the pain of that tenderly, intimately, drawing me further into the economy of eternity even as I weep.
I remember Mary and Margaret, Lazarus’ sisters, and how they believed so strongly that their friendship with Jesus would earn them the right to the miracle they expected, the miracle of their brother’s healing. I too have walked long in friendship with Christ, have given my life to serve Him. And I long to be able to echo the faith of Martha, who looked still for the miracle even when it didn’t look as she expected it to look:
“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (John 11: 21-22)
The Word tells us that Jesus had a plan from the beginning to use Lazarus’ death to shine His glory. And the He came to Martha and Mary first, before that plan was revealed, to comfort them and grieve with them.
This, I am learning, is the greatest miracle of all.
That our God, Creator of all and Source of life, takes on our skin so that He can know our pain and draw near to us in it. Our God longs to know our grief and share it with us. Our God longs to be our comfort in the loss even as He brings about the miracle of eternal salvation.
I have come to see the miracle in my longing. The miracle in the daily rising and drawing near to His comforting presence that offers me grace to keep saying “yes” to who He is making me to be, even when the miracle is not what I expected it to be. In this way, I come closer to knowing the heart that the Savior has for me.
It might not have been the miracle that I expected, but it is certainly the miracle I need. The miracle that saves.
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five precious sons here on earth. She also has five precious children awaiting her in heaven: her sixth son, Bryce, who flew home to heaven in his sleep on September 1, 2009, and four little ones lost to miscarriage. In 2011, she and her husband founded St .Bryce Missions in honor of their son Bryce and now run the St. Francis Emmaus Center providing access to medical care, support and education to indigenous mothers in Turrialba, Costa Rica. Colleen works out what it means to follow Jesus with her whole heart and encourage others along the way at her blog Blessed Are the Feet. She invites you to join her on adventures in love on Twitter and Instagram or Facebook.
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