We are small, but God is very big. We are so weak, but He is strong. These are some simple yet complex truths God has impressed upon my heart over the course of the past several months as we awaited the arrival of Abel into our family. Since Mother’s day weekend when we received the news of his little life, I have been clinging desperately to these and many other truths about the character and attributes of God.
Ross and I had agreed months before when Isaac was just tiny that we would not pursue adoption any time soon unless we received a phone call from one of our birth mothers that she was pregnant with a sibling of one of our children. We knew there would be no way we could say no, no matter what the timing. When the phone call came relaying precisely that information, Ross hung up the phone, shared it with me, and we simply said to each other, “Yes.”
And so began the long wait. In typical pregnancies, women have 9 months. I usually have about 24 hours, so several months provided a lot of time for me to pray and ponder. We didn’t know much, only that this baby was Isaac’s (our youngest son) full biological sibling and that the birth mother thought she was due around August 13. To prepare, I washed and folded a few unisex outfits to take to the hospital. I cleaned out the infant car seat and moved Isaac to a bigger one. We moved all three older kids into the same room. And I prayed. Many times I would wake up in the middle of the night wide awake, heart pounding in my chest with this baby on my mind. I couldn’t rub my stomach the way pregnant mothers unconsciously do, making sure he or she was still there and feeling the movements of the unborn child. I couldn’t take prenatal vitamins to try to ensure the baby was getting as much nutrition as possible. But I could storm the gates of heaven on his or her behalf, and so I pleaded with God to keep the baby safe and healthy and growing stronger by the day.
During this time, I was reading a book called “None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (and why that’s a good thing)” by Jen Wilkin. Every chapter focuses on a different attribute of God and gives concrete practical application of these theological truths. The chapter on God’s omnipresence soothed my adrenaline-fueled soul. What was many times the hardest part of the wait for me was that I wasn’t there physically with this baby. I couldn’t take the birth mother to prenatal care appointments. I couldn’t watch as the ultrasound technician manipulated her medical instruments so I could hear the heart beat and see the baby’s legs kick. Yet God was more present with the baby than I could ever be, and that mattered most.
Wilkin says that God’s presence everywhere means that he “can perfectly protect those he loves…For him, no barriers of physical distance have ever existed, no geographical boundaries prevent his influence or rule” (98). This truth humbled me to the core. I realized how in this instance and in so many other aspects of my life, I wanted to play the role of God. I desired to hold a tight grip on my life circumstances and seek a false sense of control instead of holding this baby with an open hand. The God who loved and protected him or her more than I ever could was hemming that baby in, behind and before, laying His hand upon him or her (Ps. 139:5). So I prayed to God and thanked him for His ability to be at all places, at all times, everywhere.
The next chapter that convicted me was about God’s omniscience, that He is “limitless in his knowing” (109). Like many other mothers with small children, I like to keep a schedule and plan for the week ahead. Things run the most smoothly when I can prepare in advance for potential tantrums, situations where we will be without snacks, or other scheduling snafus. In this situation, I was waiting for a profoundly important event and I had no idea when it was going to happen. As deeply as I believed God’s timing was perfect, I struggled with anxiety about all the unknowns. What if we got the phone call in the middle of the night? What would we do for childcare? What if the baby was born with special needs? How could I juggle my other children ages 3 and under while caring for an infant whose needs extended beyond the typical neediness of a baby? Questions swirled in my head, and I just wished I had all the facts. Then Wilkin’s words on the infinite knowledge of God spoke to my circumstances: “Whatever tomorrow holds, we can be certain that its contents will raise as many questions as they will answer. We can trust God to manage the future without our help. It is none of our business” (115). And so again, I humbled myself before God and decided to work on memorizing the following Bible verse: “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (Ps. 18:30). When anxiety would creep in, I murmured this verse to myself. During long days when the wait seemed unbearable, I taught the verse to my oldest son, Elias. I didn’t know so many things, but I flung myself upon the God who already knew every single detail of this little one’s conception and arrival.
And on July 6, we got the phone call that the baby was coming. To say we were surprised would be an understatement. Ross and I had driven three hours away from home the day before for a short weekend getaway while my in-laws watched our kids. We were across the street from our hotel getting coffee when my phone lit up with the name of our lawyer. Ross went outside to answer it, and when he came back in, he said, “You’d better order these coffees to go.” We raced back to our room and threw our belongings back into our suitcases, checked out, and began our trip back home. At the time of the phone call, our birth mother was 8 cm dilated so we didn’t think there would be any way we’d make it to the hospital in time for the birth. I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping that I could be in the room when the baby made his or her entrance. That wasn’t a possibility with any of our other children, so it would be a special gift. Yet I looked at Ross and said, “It’s ok. God’s timing is perfect.” We sang and prayed our way through the trip as I kept my eyes on our phones for any updates from our lawyer. Finally we made it to the hospital parking lot.
As we ran into the building I looked at my watch and saw it turn 1:00 pm on the dot. Meanwhile, Ross was talking on the phone to our lawyer who was telling us where to go. We made our way up to the labor and delivery unit, and I entered the room where our birth mother was waiting for us. At 1:16 pm with Ross praying in the waiting room and me in the hospital room, Abel Philip Hodges graced us with his presence. The first cry of this wonderful, full term baby was one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. I shouted, “It’s a boy!” with tears running down my face.
God’s timing is perfect. He’s never early and never too late. He had it all planned in advance for us to be there with our suitcases filled with overnight clothes and toiletries in order to stay at the hospital for several nights, a minivan containing one clean and prepped infant car seat, and my in-laws taking care of the other children. God knew when he was writing all the days of our lives in his book that Abel would be our fourth child, a perfect book end to the family He has built.
I’ve received a lot of questions about how we will cope with having 4 kids ages 3 and under, one in pull-ups, 3 in diapers. My answer is this: We are small, but God is very big. We are so weak, but He is strong. God’s way is perfect, and He will lead our family through these messy, joy-filled years as we lean upon His ever constant presence and all-surpassing knowledge of the story He’s writing for us. To Him be the glory.