Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reflections on the Life of Promise

In February, my sister-in-law, Ruthea Wolford gave birth to her fourth child by emergency c-section.  Little Promise was born in critical condition and almost died at birth.  She spent the rest of her life in neo-natal intensive care in Little Rock, AR.  During that time Ruthea stayed in Little Rock to be close to her.  All of us prayed earnestly for her recovery from an extreme case of fetal hydrops.  God said wait.  On April 30, Promise fell asleep.  
 Yesterday, Ruthea sent me this letter she wrote to Promise.  She believes that Promise is completely unware of this letter and will not know anything until Jesus wakes her up when He comes.  She wrote this letter, not to communicate with Promise, but to express some of what this experience has done for her.  The resulting first person letter is, well, you'll just have to read it.  You might want to get a tissue box first.  ~Janalin
          Although you are safe in Jesus arms, close to His heart, and sleeping in Jesus (we know it as death but not forever!) until He comes, I’m going to write as thought I’m writing to you since it helps me to formulate clear thoughts.  As your mommy, from the time I knew I was carrying you, I was confident that God would be with me and strengthen us for everything to do with the pregnancy.  In prayer time, I had assurance from God that this whole experience would be enshrouded by a rainbow so to speak and that the end of the story would be filled with peace and joy. 
          You were a little “missionary” sent to me from Jesus and I know my life will NEVER be the same, both the void that you have left and the deep lessons I’m learning.  This has been the biggest trial of my whole life and yet I believe will also be the biggest blessing.  Since your death on April 30, I have had many questions and tears and also healing times with Jesus, although as each day passes, I understand more of the picture.  Here are some of the precious lessons I treasure.
          From the womb, your life was bathed in prayer.  After your traumatic birth, thousands of prayers ascended every day for your healing as people from all over the world and all ages started praying for you.  I also was catapulted into unceasing prayer for your little life continually hanging in the balance.  I’ll never forget the night in the elevator when God impressed me to start praying for you every hour with whoever I was with, by phone or in person.  It became a great blessing.  I saw many answers to those prayers for you and for others (“Thank you God!”) and many other people joined.  It wasn’t difficult to make time to pray because your need was so great.  I know that God is leading me to this same kind of prayer experience in many areas in life, especially for your brothers and sister (who miss you so much) as they grow and face all of life’s troubles and temptations.  God wants me to feel my constant and great need of Him and be continually in tune.
          In connection with that lesson, I felt helpless and was helpless to heal you or help you like I wanted to.  As each day passed it was a new lesson in being cheerful with the unknown and things I was helpless in.  God wants me to feel that helpless dependence on Him each day!
          In the past I would feel a bit irritated about many things and situations in life that seemed big in the moment.  But now it seems that nothing holds a candle to your fragile life that was holding on by a thread.  I’m so thankful to God for this fresh perspective.  Now, nothing holds a candle to eternity and being with Jesus.  “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.  How many people are holding on to spiritual life just be a thread?
          When you were first born, I cried and prayed until I was assured by God again by the quiet conviction that He HAD given you to me.  I didn’t have to worry about whether or not you would make it and I could treasure each day with you.  Now, looking back I see that God is the same God now as in Abraham’s day and just as He really gave Abraham the promised land back then (Gen. 13), so He gave you to me. And just as Abraham received it by faith until he possesses it with all of us, so you are still mine by faith until we are in heaven.
          When I saw God had given you to me, I chose then to give you everything I had, even though I at first was inclined to hold back because nobody had assurance that you’d make it and I didn’t want to bond with you only to lose you.  But I spent all the time I could with you, I loved you as much as I could, I sang and prayed with you more than I had done with Isaac, Joy, or Seth during your short life because that’s about all I COULD do.  Thanks to the Lord, I have no regrets for my part in your life which is a wonderful example of how God wants me to live my life every day….a life with no regrets.  I see a clearer picture also of how God has given absolutely everything to us despite the fact that the majority of us humans don’t recognize that or love Him for it.  He keeps pouring His love out in un-numbered ways.  He bonds with us even though the certainty of spending eternity with us depends on our decision.  Thank you Lord, for giving your all and holding nothing back.  “The Lord would be so bountiful toward His human family that it cannot be said of Him that He could do more.  When He gave Jesus to our world, He gave all heaven.  His love is without a parallel.  It did not stop short of anything.” Comments on Matthew 26:6-13
          Along the same line, pumping breast milk for you was a huge trial for me.  It wasn’t because it hurt or because of the idea of feeding a pump instead of you.  It was because I didn’t know if you would ever get it, and every single time I pumped it was a reminder of how sick you were, how much I loved you and yet couldn’t hold you, etc, etc.  One day, God impressed me with the thought to not even worry about the future of you using my milk but simply to see it as a love gift for you right then.  This is such an example also of Jesus’ pure love to us constantly…simply because that’s what He is, pure love with no strings attached.  What a beautiful picture into Christ’s character.  I thank the Lord for the opportunity to feel more of His heart.
          Sometimes I felt almost guilty about being with you so much, since Isaac, Joy, and Seth needed me too (although Grandma was here).  Then as I prayed I realized again that I needed to be right where I was, with YOU.  God has a place and plan for me to be every moment of each day.  For each of us as His children, there may be needs all around us that call for our attention but our focus, attention, and energies need to be on the one place God has in mind.
          More than anything, I wanted to hold you in my own arms.  I prayed many times that Jesus would do that for me since I couldn’t, and I’m sure He had ways of making you feel His snuggling.  Yet that desire to hold you personally  was always there. I’m thankful for the precious moments Daddy and I held you before you died and I’ll always treasure that.  But the trial of not being able to hold you has also given me a deeper glimpse into God.  I know He would love to hold us all close physically and can’t wait until heaven when we will be united with Him.  I thank God to feel that with Him!
          You had no idea that you had an unconscious influence or even what “influence” is, but nonetheless it was great.  People and nurses who were with you commented on what a peaceful baby you were.  We had been praying all along that God’s name be glorified and we believed it could best be done by your life. However, we still believe that His name is glorified and claim that verse “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.  By your life and death, may God’s name be truly honored.  I believe you will have many stars in your crown and yet you were totally unaware of almost everything to do with this life except for the pain you were subjected to.  You have taught us so much.  You rested in Jesus…and that’s what my position should always be…resting in Jesus.
          With your life, we have been surrounded and immersed into hundreds of other people with intense needs too.  Jesus was moved with compassion on this earth for the crowds surrounding Him and He wants my life to be filled with compassion also.  “Lord, forgive me for my insensitivity to needs around me.  May I ever have your compassion and know what to do about it.”  I had never felt deep compassion for these kind of needs partly because I was never really aware of all that is happening and partly because I hadn’t suffered myself that much before.  Now, my outlook is completely different and I’ll never be the same.  In the past,  at times I’ve felt a bit judgmental about other people, but I realize more now that I’ve never carried their burden and that maybe I would make those same decisions if I was in their shoes..  I’ve entered more into God’s heart of compassion for us humans who are just as helpless as you have been in your little bed.
          The time you smiled at me gave me such a feeling of joy that I’ll never forget.  God must also long for our “smiles” of recognition and joy for who He is.
          A few days before you died, I was overcome with sadness and sat down to cry.  After a little while, God brought to my mind a song to sing and the thought that my remedy would be to sing.  God is in the business of helping us humans heal and how good He is at it.  Sometimes I can’t sing because of tears and my throat is tight but then I can again.  What a help to be able to sing through the tears.  I think I see deeper how music is like prayer and connects me with God in a way to bring continual healing and help.  Again, thank you God.

          Although I miss you terribly, I see that you had a mission to complete which you did, so you could say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 1 Timothy 4:7,8.  You were preserved and healed in the womb when the doctor didn’t think you’d make it, you survived your birth which was another miracle, and God also worked after your anointing in a special way.  Evidently He saw you had a special work to do, like the song I sang every day (Come Thou Fount) and this one… “God has a plan for you, something only you can do.  You are so valuable to Him.  You are beyond compare, a precious jewel so very rare.  He gave His everything to make you His own.  God wants just you, no one else will do.  Listen to Him call you by name.  You were in His plan before the world began and He wants you to live your life for Him.”
          We can’t wait to see you and we know it will be soon!  We are so thankful God brought you into our family!

Our faith must pierce beyond the veil, seeing things that are invisible. No one else can look for you. You must behold for yourself. In the place of murmuring for blessings that are withheld, let us remember and appreciate the blessings already bestowed (MS 42, 1901).  {7BC 930.11}


  1. Wonderful! I'm so happy to read that you have such a strong faith in Jesus! He's really the only anchor to grasp in faith! His "Promise" is that He will give us eternal life and that we will see each other again, who have gone to sleep in the faith in Jesus! What wonderful promise!!! Great name you chose for your child!

    You know, I lost my brother through cancer with only 39 years old. Jesus was the stronghold I clung to and still clinging to. My brother rests in peace until the Lord will return. It was a great loss, yes, but one day I came to the conclusion, that God makes no mistakes, He knows why He permits certain things to happen even though they may hurt us and we may not understand. God is too wise to err and too loving to withhold something from us which will be in the end better than if we had still had it.

    Promise and also my brother and many others, so I consider, God was merciful and it is a blessing for them. Everyone who rests and sleeps in Jesus, they have, as I say, "taken a shortcut". They don't need to worry any more, they are out of the reach of Satan's molesting. They are save in Jesus. We, who are alive have to many trials and sorrows. Sooth to say, the sleeping saints are much, much better off!

    Well, but we still have a work to do on earth for Jesus, that's why we are still here, else God would have let us go already, too, don't you think so? We have to proclaim His redeeming message and lead people onto the way to heaven! No sooner will God let us "go home", before our work on earth for Him is accomplished.

    This is for you encouragement. May the Lord be with you and that you and your family be always a bright shining beacon in this dark world and may you always until Jesus returns to take us believers home, cling to Him and never let Him go! May the Lord bless you! Thank you for sharing your story! I'm looking forward to meet you and Promise one day in Paradise!

    By the way, what a wonderful picture with her having her cute little eyes open! Love it!

    Lots of greetings from Germany,
    your sister in the Lord,


  2. What a wonderful story!! I met you all when my husband was in the hospital with not much hope in sight! We all rode the elevator down to the lobby and you all embraced me as I'm sure you could feel my need for a hug and a prayer! Thank you for sharing your story with me. I called Ruthea a few times and she prayed with me while on the phone. My husband is a walking Miracle and I give Glory to God Above and to some of the nicest ladies that I met in Little Rock on a cold day in March. Tari Skinner Linn ~ Quitman Arkansas <3

  3. Hi Tari, Thanks for your comment. I am glad we could meet you that day. I remember you and our prayer outside the hospital. I am so happy that your husband is ok. Praise the Lord! I remember feeling like God arranged our meeting so we could pray together. Our family needed all the encouragement we could get at that difficult time and finding someone else to minister to and encourage was a blessing. May God continue to bless your family. ~Janalin Leach