“Hello, Jessica? This is *Beth*. Um, bad news. I know we really expected a different outcome, but, well….. I am going to have to take Sophia this coming Friday. She will be staying at the rehab facility with her biological mother while she learns how to be a mom. I’ll need you to pack up all of her things and…….”
Her voice trailed off in my head as I pulled the car over and sat sobbing on the side of the road. Somehow I had finished the conversation and hung up, but I couldn’t tell you a word I said. All I know is that I could physically feel my heart breaking. I couldn’t breathe. It felt like the weight of the whole world was sitting on my chest. My world was spinning out of control. I could feel our little girl slipping out of my grasp. And nothing would ever be the same.
That next week, I gave her extra kisses. I rehearsed all of our story together. I told her how I fell in love with her the minute I saw her in the hospital. How hard I prayed as she lay in that incubator and one time stopped breathing and all the nurses rushed in. I let her know how much I enjoyed feeding her and watching her overcome the milestones of getting over five pounds and breathing without oxygen tubes. How we brought her home. How she became a daddy’s girl. How cute her laugh is. How her hiccups sound like squeaks. How she loved when I danced around the room with her. How that we don’t share blood, but she was our daughter and nothing could change that. That our six months with her were the best of our lives. And how she had our hearts forever. Yet, the whole time I could hear the rush of the river in the background….
I spent extra time telling her how much Jesus loves her. How the devil tried to get rid of her before she even opened her eyes in this world, but God saved her. How she has a purpose. Her life is part of Gods plan. How He sees her. How nothing can ever take her from His hand. That’s how I built her little ark. Made, not of bulrushes like Moses’ was, But of the promises of God. Not held together with pitch, but with the glue of His unfailing mercies and steadfast love.
All too quickly, the day came. We had to place our child in the river. The river that had brought heartache to so many others, and now we had to purposely ~ by Gods design ~ actually place our beloved Sophia in it…. and let go.
We came to the river’s brink and its rushing rapids seemed to whisper to me all the dangers its murky waters could bring. Neglect. Abuse. Sickness. Loneliness. Even death. How was I supposed to put that tiny ark in there? It didn’t stand a chance!
But we took a page from Jochebed and by faith, we put Sophia in the river. By faith we are hoping she will be a Moses ~ drawn out and used to glorify God. We have been through enough to know that we can trust the Ark. And whether that river pushes that little boat carrying Sophia back to us, or takes her to a Pharoahs daughter, or floats her to somewhere unknown to us, we can know that that ark follows the winds of God and she can never go where He is not.
Maybe you are where I was a few weeks ago. You know a river of letting go is coming. You hear it in the distance. Maybe not of letting go physically, but of letting go of the control you had over your little one’s world. It could be a river of cancer. Or of autism. Or of divorce. Or of custody. So many different kinds. All just as scary.
Or perhaps you’re kneeling now, with your knees sinking in the river bed. Your heart pounding while your fingers dig into the basket holding your child. You just cant. You beg God to let you jump in the river in your child’s place. You look into those innocent eyes and you sob your apologies. You don’t understand why God is asking you to do this to this tiny soul that trusts you. Much like Abraham felt looking at Issac, you assume. But God provided a lamb. A lamb….
Then, Through tearful eyes you look down through the ages and see a cross. And behind that cross you see a Father who made the ultimate sacrifice. And if He was willing to give up His ONLY Son for us, can we not completely trust Him with our children? Knowing that whatever river He sends us to is for the ultimate and whole good.
It doesn’t make it easy. I sit here today holding our daughters blanket wet with my tears. All of my hope is in the One I pray to. And that those prayers are keeping that little ark afloat wherever it may be. I wish this could be a blog telling you I have figured out WHY things like this happen. But I don’t think I will ever know that. Most of us won’t know until heaven the meaning of our rivers.
I guess this is more about the WHO then the why. And I have figured out that if He has brought you with your child to the river, that He knows exactly how you feel. There is a bond there that no one can break. He never questions my tears. He doesn’t get angry at my grief. His heart is touched by it and it moves Him with compassion. And when God moves, things happen. Good things.
I’ve also realized that His grace reaches even this kind of hurt. The crashing of the rivers waters may mock our faith, but amazingly it is overcome by the gentle whisper of His grace as it rains down on us. And it makes us look up as it hits our faces and we see Him. His perspective. We only see the point of letting go. That place of loss. He sees the whole river. The big picture. And grace will keep us until we can see it, too.
Also, He has shown me that He can take those waters, once so scary, and He can calm them. And He leads me down to those still, quiet waters and in that place of hurt, He restores my very soul. God is the very opposite of how we think. He is more interested in making us better than comfortable. We can best fellowship with Him through sufferings. It’s not about getting answers, it’s about finding The Answer. And There, at the point of my deepest pain, I find Him ~ a reason to live again. The strength to make it through the darkest night. The hope for tomorrow.
So don’t run away from your river. His presence will bring calm. His voice stillness. The winds and seas obey Him. Then, so also do the rivers. Your child is traveling down a body of water that is directed and under the very command of God. Stay and seek Him and let that exact same voice calm your heart.
It is a very sobering thing to be asked to be a part of this group. But times past tell us that when God does make that call, and we follow our faith, amazing, life altering, history making events happen. But for the world to have Moseses, there must also be Jochebeds standing at a river bank ~ tears trailing down their cheeks.
* I Already have a running list of my foster mommy friends knowing that they are too often called on to take a child they love and made part of their home and family and place them in the river. I’d love to add any of you that may be in this same place. If you’d like me to pray for you (and your sweet child!!!!) please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) me. Prayer makes all the difference. Not because it takes our rivers away, but because it moves the hands of the One Who made the rivers.