You know, it isnt always easy to be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1Peter
3:15). At least I find it that way. I feel awkward, cant get enough nerve
to get to the point and almost drown myself in a sea of self-doubts. Should be
someone other than me, someplace else, some other time!
I can conduct Bible studies, but to lead a soul to Christit gets
really sticky. Yet sometimes God steps in and all but shoves me right into the
thick of things. And there is no other way out.
ake the time when my last baby was born. We lived in
a brand new neighborhood saturated with young couples raising kids and grass. I
was the older mothernot an enviable position from their viewpoint, but a
deliriously happy one from mine.
Martha Helen was born on December the second! She became the undisputed
ruler of our busy household. Three big brothers and one adoring older sister
all paid homage to our new love. A mere whimper, and we all flew into
Our hearts and minds were still filled with the wonder of her when it
happened. On a made-to-order Monday morning, under a round-eyed sun, breezes
flapped her diapers on the nearby clothes line. I hummed mindlessly as I tucked
six-month-old Martha into the carriage for her morning nap.
Then I flew indoors to attack my housework with renewed vigor. Beds were
made, dishes stacked in the dishwasher and the coffeepot reloaded. Soon the
sound of wheels crunching over the driveway announced the arrival of two
friends of mine who could scarcely believe that I was still involved in
birthing babies at the ripe old age of 39.
We sat in the kitchen chatting at a great rate. Im afraid I was boring them
with all my babys accomplishments.
Look at the clock! I suddenly exclaimed. Its almost time for Marthas lunch.
Ill dash out and see if shes awake.
She usually napped for an hour or two in the mornings. I went to the back
door and looked out. The mosquito netting was billowing gently in the soft
breeze. I ran out and peeked though the slit of the hood. The two of us liked
to play peek-a-boo. Martha lay face down in the carriage.
I tore at the netting and turned her over. Her face was puffed and her
closed eyes were bluish and swollen.
As we lay the smallest member of our family in the ground, we knew
we were depositing our first treasure up in heaven.
I drew her close in my arms. She lay like a tiny rag doll, limp and
lifeless. From somewhere deep inside me there came a strange unearthly
Did You hear it way up there, God? That was the veil of my heart being
I couldnt believe this was happening to me! This happened to other peoples
children, not to your own. I stumbled into the kitchen with my bundle of grief
and handed her to my friend Marge. She swiftly loosened the babys clothing and
with her mouth gently began to breathe air into those quiet little lungs. There
was no response.
What followed was a nightmare. Ambulances. Neighbors. Respirators. And my
baby on the kitchen table. Strangers looking down at her smallness with pity
and trying to coax her back into our world.
The doctor was kind, but still I was flattened by his diagnosis:
aspiration of the vomitus in the trachea.
If only I had gone out sooner, if only I had put her in her crib, if only I
had not had company . . . I could never forgive myself.
As we lay the smallest member of our family in the ground, we knew we were
depositing our first treasure up in heaven.
nd the neighbors were watching. How would this
new neighbor weather the storm? She, who held weekly Bible studies, drove off
to church every Sunday morning with her car full of family . . .
I was aware of their watching. But most of all I wanted to be left alone in
my tabernacle with my God. The soul has a desolate desert. I discovered mine
after the fierce hurricane of emotion had stopped its wild churning. Yet it was
a peace so frail that it could be shattered by the merest scrap of a lullaby or
a newborn babys sob.
When the next week arrived, the Bible study ladies trooped in. Eight of
them, listening to the words I spoke and watching my eyes.
Was God real to her now? Did she understand why this had happened? Had
this tarnished her trust in her Jesus? Was she bitter and angry at
I could almost hear their thoughts. I smiled harder, but my underlying trust
that God somehow would work even this out for good held me snug. Kathy, my
next-door neighbor and bouncy mother of four little ones, wore a constant
frown. I puzzled over her quietness that afternoon. She stayed to chat after
the others had left.
Miggy. It did not take her long to spill over what she was thinking. I dont
think I want to accept Christ as my Savior. Not now, perhaps not ever.
She looked at her restless hands, and her cheeks grew flushed.
Why, Kathy, dear? I whispered it softly, knowing how close she was to
Because God might take one of my children like He did your baby Martha. I
could not go through that. Tears interrupted her usual quickness of speech.
Oh, Kathy, God does not trust us with any trial beyond which we can carry.
He does not want to break us down. God has reasons for everything that He
And do you know what is His reason for taking Martha? Her mumble was
indistinct, but I could tell she was kind of teed off at a God who would do
something like that.
I dont have to know why, Kathy, I trust Him.
But I dont have the strength to let Him have one of my babies.
Nor did I, I said. Not before it happened. But when it happens, God gives
His strength and His peace, not beforehand.
Youre all right about this? She shot back at me.
It hurts, but Im positive that He has a plan for my life.
We talked more right on through lunch. At the end Kathy was ready to accept
Christ. I could hardly believe it.
I want to do it right now, Kathy said in a firm voice. I want to ask Jesus
into my heart.
And we bowed our heads and prayed together. Already the first fruits of
Marthas home-going had been harvested. Kathys face shone. She wanted to tell
the whole world what had happened.
Can I wait until your husband comes home? she asked. So we sat there and
offered psalms of thanksgiving that a new name had been written down in Gods
Book of Life.
hen Paul walked in, Kathy asked him whether he
noticed anything new.
He looked around the room carefully and then his gaze rested on Kathys
Youve accepted Jesus as your Savior! Am I right?
But but how could you tell? Kathy stammered.
You look at peace for the first time since we met, Paul exclaimed. You
always were in overdrive or passing gear, but now, your face is just
It was enough. Kathy shared Christ with all the enthusiasm that she carried
on everything else in her young life. To date her entire family has trusted
Christ. Not only her children, now grown and married, but her mother, brothers
and extended family.
We since have moved to Philadelphia, and Kathy remains in New Jersey. Once
or twice a year, at no special time, the phone rings. Without even a hello, a
young voice says, Thank you, Miggy, for introducing me to Christ. That was a
gift beyond all price. Thank you.
And it was the death of our baby that melted her heart.
Mildred Krentel is a writer living in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
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