On The Life & Death Of Our Son Parker David Gilles

by Bobby Gilles

in Coping With Miscarriage/Stillbirth/Death,Exhortations And Musings

Parker David Gilles, son of Bobby and Kristen Gilles, born into the arms of Jesus October 21, 2012Our 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.

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Thank you for reading our post. You can hear songs from our new worship record “Parker’s Mercy Brigade” for free in the top-right sidebar of this website, from Spotify. You can also purchase either the CD or digital download for $5 from KristenGilles.com (of course it’s in the iTunes store as well). And you can subscribe to this blog for free by clicking the RSS icon or signing up via email in the right-hand sidebar.
— Bobby & Kristen

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  • Bobby, “All I Have Is Yours” has long been one of my favorite songs. As I’ve heard it before, I’ve always pictured the things I hold most dear: my sons.

    I will never hear this song again without picturing you holding your precious son. I’ll pray for you, Kristen and your children every time I hear it. God bless you and hold you close.

    • Shelvi Gilmore

      You all don’t know me and I don’t know you either, But I am praying for your family at this heart breaking time. Love you all.

  • When I read this, I see a picture in my mind of a drink offering being poured out. You are both living epistles, and I am humbled and honored that you would share your pain, your joy, your revelations, and your struggles in such a way that I find myself becoming comforted and encouraged. May you be deeply, profoundly, and abundantly blessed, and may God meet you at every place of need with more than you could ever have imagined.

  • I firmly believe that, just as God could not allow David to build the temple for the blood stains on his hands, that God has a special purpose in Heaven for souls completely unstained by the sin of this world. Free from all exposure to the sin and depravity that come with dependence on the world’s order. My mind boggles when I try to imagine the nature of such tasks, given the superiority of the life of a soul whose life was lived exclusively in the presence of God Almighty.

  • Thank you for this Bobby – thoughts and prayers with you all.

    • Kristen has been playing “Dear Refuge Of My Weary Soul” on piano this morning. Our friends are going to do it at the memorial service this afternoon as well.

  • johanna

    Such beautiful words. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • Laura Beth O’Nan

    Bobby, thank you for sharing so openly. As I pictured you holding Parker’s body for hour upon hour, I could not help but weep. What a beautiful display of a father’s love.

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  • Casey Cashell

    Praising the Lord for yours’ & your wife’s sweet testimony in the face of such deep loss. My the Lord continue to shower His love and warmth on you and your family.

  • Robert

    Hi Bobby & Kristen! I am so encouraged by your testimony. I am Robert Li, use to study at SBTS and now living in Beijing. May I translate your testimony into Chinese?

  • Bobby and Kristen, you have strengthened our faith! God recently took our son as well, and your testimony reveals to us a GREAT GOD! If This would in any way be encouraging to you, here is a brief clip from the service of our baby boy: http://youtu.be/jcZGuafmrJg

    • Thank you for sharing this clip with us, Rebekah. It was a big comfort this morning.

  • Fifteen years ago our firstborn went to be with Jesus at the tender age of 3 months, 12 days, unable to recover from massive heart surgery, while I sang a little lullaby I wrote for her. Nothing is so terribly precious as handing your child’s soul to the safekeeping of Jesus. We experienced peace that passes all understanding, and I pray you will, too.

  • Tammy Bishop

    Crying and praying with you guys, I am so sorry. My heart is breaking for you guys.

  • You are all in my prayers. I pray God will carry you through in His loving arms.

  • Praying.

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  • Kim Steadman

    You all continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your testimony of grieving and how God is working in your lives to bring honor and glory to Him.

  • I love you Bobby. You and Kristen are indeed an inspiration and true models of the gospel. I’m grateful for a God who is comforting and keeping you through this tragic loss. Thank God for all of the God-glorifying music you’ve given to the Sojourn community and to churches across America and the world. Thank God that you are continuing to praise him despite great heartache.

  • On our knees for you as you mourn, yet continue to say, “Blessed be your name!” Such a beautiful tribute to His image bearer, Parker. His peace in you.

  • Thanks so much to all of you for these prayers, testimonies and words of comfort.

  • Robbie Marshall

    So very encouraging to hear this testament of God’ s amazing grace and the peace that only He can give. May you continue to fine comfort in Him.

  • Emily Weller

    You don’t know me, but my husband & I used to be a part of The Oaks Community Church before we moved. My heart breaks for you but I am so thankful for these words you have shared–thank you for glorifying Christ in the midst of your loss. This makes so much of Him and it is a beautiful testimony. May His promises in the Word be sweeter to you than ever before, dear brother and sister!

  • joy

    Praying for you, your family as well as friends who are hurting, questioning why and at the same time praising God for who He is in your life. I understand words may not bring comfort right now but I pray the arms of God surround you and carry you through lifes journey and that this will in turn lead others to know His saving grace. -hugs joy

  • Kathy Bovtko

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart

  • I’m amazed (but, why?) to see how God is already working 1 Corinthians 1 in your lives… “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” When we found out about Parker’s death, Eric and I prayed for you and Kristen on our knees, asking that the Lord would bring many beautiful “songs in the night” out of this moment of suffering. He’s already using even your words and reflections to encourage the body! Thanks be to God. I love you both so much. This post is now one of my most cherished memories of you, my friend.

  • Luke Schrieber

    Praying for you and Kristen in this hard time.

  • Ashley

    I’m so sorry, I loss my daughter during childbirth due to HELLP syndrome and wrote about it in my blog on Easter in 2012. I go to a support group in Louisville, consoling parents, if you ever want to lean on others who have been in similar unfortunate circumstance. Sending your family a big hug.

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  • Bob in IN

    May 3, 1988, we lost Austin in a similar way. Perfect pregnancy, etc. No real explanation from the medical community. Grief for many years. 24 years later, I still yearn to meet him in heaven. I know he will be there, right next to Jesus Christ. God’s word has been my comfort in these years like no other comfort that you can imagine. Press on, Christ is totally in control.

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