Thursday, October 28th, 2010
So we decided to take the risk and try for another child. We were immediately faced with an incredible scheduling dilemma. We already knew that we were moving back to Canada at the end of July 1999; Joyce figured out that in order for her to recover from the birth before we had to move, the perfect and only time for this child to be born would be in early June 1999… which meant the child would have to be conceived in September 1998.
There was only one little problem. Of all the months of that year, September was the one where I was to be gone the most: to Europe for my first tour of worship concerts; to Ireland for a conference; for all the ministry kickoff activities of the new church year that corresponded with the school year. We could see it would take a miracle even to conceive. Add to the schedule this: Joyce and I have always been attracted to each other physically (always a good thing if you are married!) , but this month was different. There was no spark between us… only stress! It’s almost as if everything was conspiring against us having another child.
So when Joyce told me in October that she had conceived in September, my jaw dropped! How did it happen? Okay, I know how it happened (this ain’t no virgin birth story), but how did it happen? After recovering from my surprise, I stepped into a surge of faith. If God gave us the gift of another child in the midst of all of this, I just knew that something very special was planned for this child – that he would be the son we were praying for. And so for the next eight months, I just knew! I knew what was going to happen. I knew that God had heard the desires of our hearts and all the prayers of our close friends and intercessors and pastors. I walked to work, as you do in London, with a spring in my step. I was going to be a father again, and this time I was going to have a healthy son, and we would talk about God stuff like theology and worship and the history of the world. Maybe he would learn to play a musical instrument, and we would make music together. Maybe we would sing together the same way I was able to sing with my father.
I just knew that my Father in heaven was going to give us a son unaffected by fragile X. Joyce had a waking vision one day at an airport, where she saw me walking with two sons and knew the second son’s name. In response to this vision, we planned to give him the name Isaiah, which as several meanings, including “God is generous”.
I knew… until the final weeks of May 1999.
Spring had started to blossom in the beautiful English gardens outside… but on the inside. I entered winter as doubts blew into my mind like an unwelcome storm. Restless nights filled with dreams of children with severe disabilities and our inability to cope. Daytime hours filled with dread and a churning stomach.
I went through the motions of doing my job as a worship pastor. I walked my kids to school and did errands in town, but with each step I felt more and more overcome by the uncertainty of it all – and if you saw me walking to work, you would have noticed that the spring was gone from my steps. I started to cut myself off from people. A couple of days before the due date, I could no longer silently contain my struggle. I walked over to the piano… and soon the words and tears started to flow into a melody.
The first phrase out of my mouth was a confession: “I don’t know.” There was such release in saying, “I don’t know! I don’t know how this is all going to turn out.”
“I don’t know” doesn’t mean I don’t know what God is like; it means I don’t know whether we heard right or whether things on this fallen earth will turn out the way we hope they will.
I don’t know!
And as hard as it was to say those words, they also brought some freedom – because knowing sometimes comes with holding it all together and being in control… and God is asking us to yield control and trust.
In this moment I wasn’t thinking about writing a song or reaching out to other people. I was just trying to survive the day! In my early days of church leadership, I thought I knew quite a few things. Yet in that moment I realized I didn’t know much. And I certainly did not know exactly what was happening in my wife’s womb with the child she was carrying. All I knew was that our precious family was about to welcome another addition. And we were praying for another son, one who would not be affected by fragile X.
Excerpted from Make Love, Make War, by Brian Doerksen (A Survivor book from David C. Cook, 2009).