Today is my son’s (Jonathan) 21st birthday. Today is a reminder of God’s special gift to Letty and me. Let me tell you the story behind this:
It was about 24 years ago that Letty and I considered having a third child. We had been blessed with two boys, Tim and Daniel. We thought that was “it” for us. We loved these two boys with all our heart. It was hard to imagine having a third child and how we could love that child in the same way as we loved the other two. Plus, having two children made us evenly matched (one kid per parent). Having three kiddos would give the power advantage to the children (think of a 3 on 2 fast-break, but worse).
But the Lord worked on our hearts and we knew that we should try for number 3. And so we did. Letty got pregnant and we were all excited about the new baby. However, the baby miscarried on the 8th week. It was heart-breaking and confusing for us. It felt like a death, but there was no body and no closure. Some well-meaning people in the church tried to comfort us with statements like, “Oh, you’ll get another chance” and “Well, there must have been a good reason why that baby wasn’t born.” But, as you can imagine, it just made it worse. Most people don’t know how to handle it when someone else goes through a miscarriage.
After grieving, we tried again. And Letty got pregnant again. At the 20th week, Letty felt something peculiar. She got checked and we discovered that the baby died in the womb. The worst part was that they would have to “extract” our dead child through a procedure that is only done at abortion clinics. So, sadly Letty had to go to a Planned Parenthood clinic in LA and had the procedure done. Again, there was no body and no closure, making it difficult to mourn. The only redemption was that Letty got to share with other women at the abortion clinic that she wasn’t there to get rid of her baby. Rather, she wanted her (the baby was a girl), but the baby had died in the womb. They were visibly moved by her story.
We were a wreck after that. The only things that kept us going were the demands of life and raising our two boys. Then, I remember receiving a phone call in January 1992 while at a Worship Conference in Colorado. Letty (with the boys help) announced that she was pregnant! And for the next 8 months we held our breaths.
As it got closer to the baby’s due date we had to decide on names. For the boy’s name we thought about all the Biblical characters. “Jonathan” stood out to us. We thought about how noble and truthful Jonathan was, and what a great, humble friend he was to David. I looked up the definition of Jonathan. In the Hebrew, it means “gift from Yahweh.”
That was perfect! After losing two children to death, Jonathan’s birth would truly be a gift. We did not take the opportunity to “give life” for granted. Although Jon was born a month premature, he was healthy and very much alive! Praise Yahweh for His gift!
Well, that gift is still giving blessing to us to this day. Jon is not only a healthy young adult, but one who lives fervently for Jesus. He’s very involved with our Youth Ministry, serving as a leader for High School Students. He is a Presidential Scholar at Cal State San Bernardino (and he’s on the Dean’s List every quarter). And he is a passionate worship leader at our church. He not only leads our HS Worship Team, but he also is an emerging worship leader for our church (the “Big” Church). And you know his daddy is really proud of that!
(Pastor Scott Higa and Jon – giving some love to the USC Trojans)
But I share Jon’s story not just to brag about Jon, as a reminder of a needed habit Whole Life Worshipers must exercise – that of “remembering God’s goodness.” We tend to receive the blessings of God with initial joy, but then we so quickly move on to the next thing, the next need, the next prayer request, or the next miracle. Israel had the same problem – they kept forgetting what God had done because they were too concerned about what they needed God to do, now.
Yet remembering the gifts of God in the past is where we base our faith in the present. So it is important to remember his gifts, his “Jonathans.” They move us in the dynamic of Whole Life Worship.
When was the last time you stepped back and reflected on what God has done for you?
What are the “Jonathan” gifts God has given you in the past?
What did you learn about God through these gifts?
I will remember Your deeds, O LORD, and I will meditate on all Your works (Psalm 77:12)