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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

12 Candles...(Part 1 of 4)

At our recent social event, I was so deeply moved by the beautiful activity that Lindsay organized for us to honor and celebrate our precious children. This post, and several to follow in subsequent days, will recap the experience through story and pictures, the sharing and application of Scripture, and by posing a challenge for each one of us. Please read on, and stay tuned, for a glimpse of Jesus' love for our children who now dwell in His Father's house, as well as His love for each of us.

For those of you who couldn't be there with us, here is a brief recap of the events of the evening...we congregated for dinner at a local restaurant in a private room. There were seven couples total who came. We had a great time in fellowship and conversation, and played a fun (and clean) rendition of the "newlywed game" as we awaited our food. It came down to a face-off between two couples, and after correctly answering questions ranging from their spouse's favorite restaurant or favorite season of the year, to the kind of wild animal they would choose to be. One couple went away with a prized One Year Devotional for Couples. After dinner, and the highlight of the evening, Lindsay led us in a special commemoration of each of our children. Each couple took their turn lighting a candle or candles to represent the child(ren) they had lost. They placed their candle(s) on a cake, ordained with the words "Matthew 19:14" in lavender icing. Each candle lit made the room just a tad brighter, as the flickering flame represented one more loved and precious child whom we honored that night. Once all candles were lit, all 12 of them, Justin (my husband) read Matthew 19:14 where Jesus said...

"Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

We had time to share and to pray amidst the glow of the 12 burning candles. Here is the first of several reflections I would like to share with regard to those twelve, beautiful burning candles.

Those 12 candles...

Illuminated the room with their beautiful light.

We each took our turn lighting our candles from one that was already lit and then placed the candle(s) on the cake. Each flame brought forth a hint more light into the room, representing our babies. The candle is obviously symbolic in and of itself, but let's spend some time reflecting on the light that illuminated from each candle. To onlookers, it may have appeared that the light of these candles were simple flames that flickered for several minutes at best, and were eventually blown out, no longer to glow. I'd like to share with you what the light meant to me.

First, it occurred to me that all of the candles looked exactly the same. They were each small, white candles burning in the same manner upon that cake, each radiating a gentle light. This got me thinking about God's view of our children. As their Creator, He knows each one of them uniquely and intimately. While the lives of these babies on earth represented by these candles ranged from a short time in the womb to days after a full-term birth, there is one vital characteristic that is exactly the same for each of them...God made them, God loves them, and God's mercy welcomes them into His Kingdom. In our humanity, we try to compare our losses, but these candles, which represented our losses all looked identical. There were no specific markers on certain ones to say this child was more important or these parents experienced something much more tragic. A loss is a loss and it hurts. Let's not fall into the comparison trap and view our losses in this light, but rather acknowledge the pain of all losses. Let's choose to look beyond the hurt of this world and focus on the joy in knowing that each of our children have been called to their eternal heavenly home.

Secondly, the light, though representative of immense losses in each of our lives, was good. Indeed, the light was good. When thinking about light from a biblical perspective, I can't help but to see the good. In the story of creation in Genesis chapter 1, verses 3-4, "God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness." At the very beginning of time, God saw that the light was good. That being said, what "good" can your child's brief life have on this world? How has their life been a light to others? How can you ensure that their life is a light to others? I have been so blessed to see the impact for good of both Chloe's life, and the life of our tiny baby whom we lost just a few weeks ago. This calls to mind a verse from Romans chapter 8 which says,

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

Finally, I could see the light of Jesus in that room. We know from Scripture that Jesus is the light of the world! In each of these flames, I could see the light of Jesus' love embracing each one of our precious children. In the gospel of John, chapter 8, Jesus says...

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 8:12

So here's the challenge...will you follow Him? Will you walk in the light? I choose to never walk in darkness, despite the pain and the anguish that these losses bring. I choose to walk with Him!

Will you walk with us?

If you were at the social event, please feel free to comment on what these 12 precious candles meant to you. If you were not present, still feel free to post about the "good" that your child's life has brought to this world, or how you plan to keep the light of your child's legacy burning.

Parts 2, 3, and 4 will be posted over the next week. Stay tuned for more reflection on the 12 Candles.

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