“We are going to run some tests and try our best to get to the bottom of what this mass is, Mrs. Gavin.” I looked over at my exhausted 7-month-old son lying on the hospital bed, he was covered in band-aids from the nurses several failed IV attempts and his skin was gaunt and clammy. After two days of painful medical procedures the doctor’s decided the only way to diagnose Dexter was to inject him with a small dose of Ketamine, a horse tranquilizer, and place a large needle directly into the tennis ball sized lump in his neck to collect a sample.
I quickly checked my spirit to see if there was another, less painful option that I should try to uncover. I felt God confirm that the needle aspiration was our best course of action. And so, prior to the surgery, my husband and I stood in my son’s tiny hospital room with our closest family members, heads bowed and hands held, and prayed that God would heal my child and give divine wisdom to the physicians handling him.
After 5 days in the NICU, Dexter was diagnosed as having lymphadenitis, inflammation of the lymph nodes caused by a MRSA infection. He was given an IV of heavy-duty antibiotics and we were told to follow up with an infectious disease doctor within the next 10 days. The week following our hospital visit was bathed in prayer. I pleaded with God, literally begging him to rid Dexter of these resistant bacteria. I prayed that the antibiotic would work and we could forget the nightmare ever happened. I asked that God would build up my son’s immune system and remove any underlying issue that was causing his repeated illnesses. I even made a deal with God; He could literally send me the plagues of Job, but in return, He must promise to keep my son healthy. I hadn’t had that kind of pleading, desperate prayer since before I was baptized.
My prayers were much more Christ-like after I found the knowledge of God, “If it be your will, God, then let me conceive.” or “If it be your will, Lord, let my husband and I land this account for our business." "If it be your will let us buy this car, or join this church etc.” When I decided to commit my heart to Jesus, my prayers were no longer desperate, because I found hope. I prayed with confidence once I came to the realization that my Father was the Creator of the Universe and He wanted only good things for his children. And even if I didn’t fully understand a difficult situation in my own life, I trusted that He knew better. I had won the fight of faith and submitted my life to Him to do as He wished with it.
So how then had I returned to this all too familiar place where I begged and bargained with God to do things my way? How did I revert right back to my role as a stubborn child refusing to obey by putting my trust in Him? I spent so much time asking God to heal Dexter, to stop his suffering, to put his pain behind him, but not once did I say “Your will be done, God.” It occurred to me after I heard His proverbial whisper deep inside me, just how unfaithful I’d become; “Trust in Me. I know you can’t imagine this now, but I love Dexter even more than you do.”
It was in that moment that I felt my sinful nature completely exposed. I hadn’t won the fight of faith at all; I was deeply rooted in unbelief. I thought about the story of Abraham, trekking up the side of Mt. Moriah, ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering. I had never really understood how Abraham could say yes to binding and stabbing his only child he had waited 25 years to conceive, but now that I was a mother, the idea was truly unfathomable.
Here I thought I was willing to give my entire life over to Him, that I trusted Him fully and understood His character as being nothing short of perfect love, but when He had requested for me to put my son upon His altar, I said “no” emphatically. This is the same God who had sacrificed His own son’s life for my sake, but when he asked me to place my child’s well being into His loving hands so He could care for Him, I feared that those very hands were the author of sin and suffering itself. I didn’t pray “Your will, Lord” because I was far too vulnerable to give God control over the situation. Before Abraham took Isaac up that mountainside he told his servants, “we will worship and come back to you.” Unlike me, Abraham knew that God had a better plan for his son and He believed that Isaac would return back with him. (Genesis 22:6)
I wish I could say that after realizing I was failing to place Dexter under His authority that I quickly started turning it all over to Him, but the truth is, I haven’t. Even after almost a year of my son being in complete health, I still can’t fully surrender. I praise Him, I continually thank Him for His healing, but I can’t fully let go and let God. But I want to. I desperately want to. And I think God knows that. He knows I long to trust Him with a faith like Abraham. But I’m not there yet. I just hope one day I can be.
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Jessica Gavin is a freelance writer, committed wife and mother, and follower of Jesus living deliberately in the suburbs of Richmond, VA. Authentically curious about world religions, she embarked on a blog project called "52 Prayers" where she vowed to attend a different house of worship each week for a year in search for the truth about God. After a year of wrestling with theology, Jessica found herself at the foot of the cross, smitten with a man from Galilee. Her project drew an international following and her writing has been featured in Skirt! Magazine, Crosswalk.com, WRIC's morning show and currently she is working on her spiritual memoir. A lifelong fan of studying human potential, Jessica facilitates group coaching workshops in her area. You can reach her online at www.52prayers.com.