Our baby Parker was born and died on Sunday, October 21 around 5:30pm. Until the moment his heart stopped, every medical test throughout Kristen’s 42 weeks of pregnancy had shown him to be a healthy, strong, growing baby. And then, for some reason we don’t fully understand, God took him.
We each got to hold our son’s beautiful body, as did several members of our family and our pastor Daniel Montgomery. And then after everyone left, and as Kristen slept due to the medication she’d received for her C-section and recovery, I held Parker until 1 a.m. the next morning. I will always treasure this time with him.
It is true that the body I held was no longer “Parker” — he was “absent from flesh,” as the wonderful song by Isaac Watts and our friend Pastor Jamie Barnes so truthfully says. But as I held him, the Holy Spirit showed me that this little body was not something to be discarded lightly, or looked upon as a worthless object. This was the work of art that our Lord fashioned and cultivated for Parker from within mommy’s womb.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. — Psalm 139:13-16
This body was created and specifically gifted for use by our son, even for such a short time. You and I might hastily and shoddily construct something that will only be in use for a day or a moment, but God does all things well.
Hosea the prophet wrote of Jacob, “In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he strove with God.” (Hosea 12:3). And when Mary told her cousin Elizabeth about the impending birth of Jesus, her own unborn baby (John the Baptist) “leaped in her womb.” Then the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth, prompting her to say that this wasn’t just some involuntary muscle movement but that “the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:41-44).
I know that our son was a living part of our family for those 42 weeks he was in Kristen’s womb. And I have every assurance that as I paced the floor of our hospital room with the body God made for Parker, and as I rocked him in the chair, that Christ or an angel may have pointed Parker to that scene and said, “That’s your earthly daddy. See how he loves you, and is waiting for the day he can come to you.”
All I Have Is Yours
In the same day Parker was birthed and died, our Sojourn Church family celebrated baby dedications across all campuses, and cemented the occasion by singing the offering hymn I wrote with Rebecca Elliott, “All I Have Is Yours.” As our friends dedicated their children to God, Kristen and I released ours to Him, submitting to His will.
One of the challenges of being a worship songwriter occurs when you’re presented with an opportunity to live your words, and prove whether you really meant them or whether it was just a matter of rhyme and meter. Satan knows this too and has tempted me to renounce that song. He has also mocked me for writing these lines a couple weeks ago, in a song about the Holy Spirit that we may record someday:
You ripple through a grave site, and comfort the bereft
With promise to reanimate the dust with Holy breath.
Do I really believe that? Does it really bring me comfort? And can I really surrender everything to God, and even praise Him that “All I have is Yours”?
With God’s help I can. With my family and my church I can. With a spouse who truly models what it means to be a worship leader in every aspect of live, I can. In my own power, I’m too stingy to even share a helping of mashed potatoes at a gathering, but in the power of Christ I can declare now more than ever that His way is best, and everything He gives me is truly His.
Your Will Is All I Need
In the last few days many songs have comforted me, including lyrics and links to songs and hymns that many of you have sent me through Twitter, Facebook and email. One of the songs I’ve reflected on a lot is “Your Will.” Three worship leaders from different churches (Shannon Lewis, McKendree Augustus and Gary Durbin) wrote this song but they did not have a second verse for it. Shannon asked if I could take a stab at it, which I was glad to do.
Now Shannon and his wife Cyle have recorded it with their band Saint Lewis, and they’ve been kind enough to donate all the proceeds from the $0.99 per iTunes download for the month of October. These proceeds will pay for whatever portion of medical bills uncovered by our insurance. Kristen and I are very grateful. You can read more about it at Shannon’s blog, and you can hear a preview and download “Your Will” on iTunes here.
Although the loss of Parker is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, I am thankful that God gives me the strength to say “Your will is all I need” and to trust the care of all my children to the one who surrendered His “own body to the wrath reserved for me.”
To all of you who have prayed, wept, or reached out to us through social media or in person, know that we love you and praise God for your tenderness. Thank you so much for your kindness. We love our friends and family. We love our church Sojourn. We love our campus in New Albany led by Pastor Michael Fleming, and our brothers and sisters in Sojourn Music, led by Mike Cosper. We love all of our family in Christ, including even those we’ve never met but with whom we’ve interacted on Facebook, Twitter, this My Song In The Night blog and other online spheres. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.