God is sovereign over all His creation. As Christians we rejoice in this fact perpetually. The knowledge that our Redeemer’s mighty hand is guiding and directing our lives in and through whatsoever comes to pass is one of our greatest blessings. (Romans 8:28…) God displays His dominion in every aspect of our lives. There are times, however, when our Creator chooses to make these truths more clear to us. Events in our lives demonstrate just Who is really in charge, to bolster our faith and increase our humility. The following is a tale of just such an exhibition of God’s wonderful dealings with my family over the past 25 years.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted a lot of children, and so did my wife, but we were young and in no hurry. We wanted to wait a few years to have kids since we didn’t want to be tied down with the added responsibility, so we were using birth control. Well, Marion was pregnant by the time we’d been married 7 or 8 months. Heartbreakingly, we lost that child when she was five months pregnant. Even though we continued to use birth control we had two sons in the next year and a half.
Shortly after the birth of our second son we started attending a local conservative Southern Baptist church. My wife was converted shortly after we started attending, and I was converted a couple years later. (A story for another time) Anyway, in this church we were influenced by Bill Gothard a great deal and were convinced by his teaching that all birth control was sinful, so we stopped using any. Guess what happened… three years, no pregnancy! That’s right, first 2 ½ years of marriage, using birth control brought three pregnancies. As soon as we stopped trying not to get pregnant… nothing.
So, about six years after getting married we had our third son. A year and a half later God gave us our first girl, (who still has my heart wrapped around her finger). But something happened between the birth of these two children. I became… of all things… a Calvinist (Gasp!)! What does that have to do with anything? Let me tell you.
After becoming convinced of Calvinism at an Arminian Bible college I moved back up north and found a Reformed Baptist Church that we joined. Someone in the congregation gave me a paper written by the elders of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI (Sam Waldron, Greg Nichols…) on the question as to whether birth control is Biblical or not. I was immediately convinced by Biblical reasoning that birth control was not sinful in all cases. In fact, since I was making $6.25/hour and raising four kids, I was convinced that it might even be sinful for me not to be using some form of birth control. (The paper was clear btw, any abortifacient form of birth control, such as the pill, should not be used.) So anyway, we started using birth control again.
Well, perhaps you’ve already guessed it. Pregnant two months later! I walked around in a daze for at least two days. I couldn’t believe it! Why would God put me through the emotional turmoil of changing a fundamental moral position and convince me that I ought to be using birth control if He was just going to give us another baby right away any way? What? Why? Huh???
My perplexedness subsided after a couple days and was replaced with the joy I should have had from the start. God gave us another beautiful girl! (who also holds my heart in her hand) What blessings were mine. Not even 30 years old and I’ve already got five wonderful children and the best wife I could ever imagine who somehow manages to homeschool them all.
I was still convinced that we should be using birth control. I was making a lot more money, but we weren’t out of debt, and besides my wife was caring for five kids under the age of eight already! What followed was our longest gap yet, five years. Wow, five years! I had begun to think we were done. But God was pleased to grant us yet one more precious little princess. (I can’t express how much I love these sweet girls. Of course I love my boys, but my princesses melt my heart.)
Fast forward about six years. I’m still in debt. I’ve moved my family half way across the country for a job opportunity that was supposed to change that. We have a few months left on the really good health insurance from my last job, and I’m thinking my quiver’s full. After a great deal of prayer and contemplation we decide that my wife should have her “tubes tied”.
The operation went fine, no complications or anything, but guess what? Two months later she is pregnant! Oh the rejoicing that was ours! God, it seems had overruled us again and was going to add another olive plant to my table. To our tremendous grief, this child also died when my wife was five months pregnant. After the loss of the baby the doctors ran a dye test on my wife’s tubes and they were indeed closed, the clamps had not failed, her tubes were still “tied.” (My wife has suffered from some troubling side effect ever since the operation, but as far as closing her tubes goes, the operation was successful.)
This story may seem to be going on and on, but it isn’t over. Two years later, we are pregnant again! YeeeHaaaaa!!!! I’m thinkin’: 1) maybe God will raise up a Spurgeon, an Owen or a McCheyne. 2) What happened? So we scheduled a C-section, because I was going to see those tubes with my own eyes. I did see them. I saw them, and the clamps that were still on them… and the new tube that God caused to grow right around the clamp! What a mighty and kind God we serve! I don’t want to drag this out endlessly. God blessed us with a fifth boy just last month and we couldn’t feel more blessed.
What’s it all mean?
Some, after hearing this tale conclude that all birth control must be sinful after all. God must not like it, He kept it from working, right? That is not the way I see it at all. I am still convinced that using birth control is the right thing to do in many instances. This is the lesson I find in all of this. We are indeed responsible to do all we can to obey God in all things. I needed to be responsible with my finances and especially with my wife’s physical and emotional well-being. I am convinced that I was indeed following the preceptive will of God by using birth control. However, God has the absolute prerogative to do whatever He pleases. He can override every choice I ever make and He deserves our praise and adoration for it all. It’s really the same principle that we find in Biblical evangelism, only the flip side of the coin, if you will. In evangelism, we must be faithful to proclaim the gospel, but we depend fully upon Him for the results. He chooses if, when & how He will bless our efforts by granting salvation to those we witness to. In this case however, I needed to be faithful to obey Him in what He had revealed to me in this area. The results were equally up to Him, only in this case, it is by His withholding the success of the particular means that He blessed us so tremendously!
I’m sure you will agree that this was indeed a crazy tale, but I have one more serious lesson I need to share. When we lost our first child we both simply assumed that our child went to heaven. Neither my wife nor I were truly converted. I was a false professor, a Christian in name only, and my wife was a nominal Roman Catholic. We lost another child, at the exact same point in the pregnancy, by this time however, the Lord had graciously granted to each of us a saving knowledge of Himself. But I was no longer convinced that the Bible teaches that children who die in the womb certainly go to heaven. Not that I believe my children certainly did not go to heaven, but I don’t think the Bible gives a conclusive answer as to what happens to children who die in infancy or in the womb. God could certainly save them all, or at least some or many, but I don’t find any of the texts used to make such claims to be conclusive. However, I do trust that the Lord of all the earth does right. He is gracious and loving, and whatever He does is good. I do not rest in a sentimental assumption, I rest in God Himself. Now this may be unbelievable to many, but we dealt with the second death of a child immeasurably better than the first. A living trust in the Living God brought us comfort in such overwhelming affliction and pain. I testify before all the world, trusting in mere comforting ideas is never the answer, no matter what the affliction. But resting upon the arms of the God who delights in mercy brings real and everlasting comfort.
His Throne is Forever and Ever!