Monday, June 20, 2011

Mama Joel

Shyly and somewhat awkwardly we smile at each other. Through a translator I try to share the words I want her to hear. Words that just grasp at the surface of the love I have for her, the depth of what she has taught me, and my ignorant desire to take away some of her pain.

But words here always fail.

We don’t speak the same language and yet somehow we are connected. I held her baby for the first twelve hours of his life… hours that should have been hers and I wish so much that they were. When that baby went to be with Jesus we wept together. It was a terrible and ugly moment and yet the beauty of it overwhelmed me. I loved her son with her and together we grieved. Ugandan style we knelt in the dirt and screamed and sobbed. We didn’t have words because language and culture tried to keep us apart but the love of Christ drew us together as we wept. Who needs words when grief is the same in every language?

In such a vulnerable ugly part of her life she invited me in. And I am forever grateful.

As I drive to the airport with the usual dread in my heart a friend asks me what the highs of this trip were. To my surprise I say, “Baby Joel.” And I don’t just mean the days he lived. The day he died is a memory I will always cherish. Because I’ve never felt more like Jesus’ hands and feet then when my hands were rubbing the back of a grieving mother and my feet were covered in dirt as we sat in the hut preparing her baby for burial.

Anyone can bring money to try and save a child’s life… run to hospitals to find blood… but only Jesus can bring the comfort a mother needs. I am wide eyed that he chose to use me as a part of his plan to do that. In the moments after Joel died I grabbed onto the hope God has promised us and I have never felt so close to heaven and so sure of our God’s faithfulness.

Tears fell in that car. A baby lay in parent’s arms with no earthly life left in him. Sobs came and went in waves. Prayers were whispered in breaths. And I remember clearly looking over the scene and knowing more than I had ever known before…

Jesus was there.

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