Thursday, December 5, 2013

Extreme Benefits!

As we neared the end of our Sunday service, the time came for members of the congregation to share testimonies of God’s faithfulness. A familiar hand, went up and all of our regular attenders smiled. The hand belonged to Mrs. Charity Lewis, the mother of our church and the person who had walked the walk of faith longer than anyone in the assembly. Mrs. Lewis began a familiar account of how she had been hit by a speeding car in 1954, thrown almost 50 feet, landed on the hard streets of Cleveland and somehow lived to tell the tale. She vowed as she did each Sunday, that she would never forget the harrowing experience and she would never fail to share what God had done for her whenever she had a chance. After the service, someone asked her if she thought that her sharing this same testimony every week wasn’t just a little extreme. Mrs. Lewis without hesitation responded, “Young Lady, I should already be dead. God in his mercy saved me from a certain death by delivering me in an extreme fashion. The least I can do is to go to the extreme to thank Him and make my miracle known!” Psalm 103 begins with this soaring exclamation of thanksgiving: Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits! Every year at this time, Luz and I are reminded of an extreme benefit the Lord delivered to us by way of our youngest daughter Victoria. Nine years ago, we languished with great apprehension as my incredibly dynamic, active and vibrant soul mate, utilized all of her strength trying to remain virtually motionless so that the little one inside her might have a chance to survive. Her water had already broken weeks earlier, and we were reliving nightmares of having lost our daughter Samantha-Luz at birth under similar circumstances less than two years before and a set of twins we miscarried a few years before that. Our situation was not optimum and the shadow of the possibility of death seemed to hang over us like a storm cloud that would not dissipate. Yet, we persevered in prayer and waited. At exactly 28 weeks gestation, on December 7, our Victoria entered the world. At 1 pound, 13 ounces, she roared with a voice that sounded more like a mouse squeaking than a baby crying, and began a 3-month fight for her life. Due to the wonderful care and attentiveness of the St. John NICU staff and the prayers and support of precious friends, the fight ended in a victory to which her name testifies! After being the recipients of God’s mercy in such a rich way, Luz and I vowed that we would follow Mrs. Lewis’ lead and continually share the story of God’s goodness to us through our Victoria’s birth each year! We also vowed that we would never fail to thank those who fought so hard for her through their tender medical care and unflinching prayer support. So, in accordance with our vow, we thank the Lord for His extreme mercy towards us by sparing our Victoria and through her life, extending our youthfulness for just a bit longer. We also thank the Lord for the medical staff that ministered to our family with loving professionalism that never lost the tender touch of humanity and who have become our friends and a sweet part of our life’s journey. We also thank all of you who either fought that tough battle of faith with us, or who have joined with us in celebrating with us as we continue to discover just what a blessing Victoria is! We cannot conclude this testimony without thanking our 3 older daughters – Victoria’s “other others” – who walk alongside us in helping to shape Victoria into a woman of strength, substance and beauty just like themselves. We have known heartache and loss, yet Victory has not eluded us. Thank you for letting me share yet again of the goodness and mercy of the Lord and letting me recount with you, all His benefits! Until next time… Sam.

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