In early November 1991 a little baby boy Daniel came into our world. He was born at home in our humble farmhouse in Ohio, where the last few hills of the Appalachians flatten out into farmland stretching all the way to the Rockies. Our home was nestled there in a quiet valley. Ours was the last house on the dead-end road that stretched back to where, seventy years ago, the Kokosing River washed out the bridge. It was November 8th and outside the northern sky was lighting up in a rare display of the Aroura Borealis—the Northern Lights almost never visible as far south as Ohio.
That night all seemed well within. After a reasonable labor Daniel was born. The midwife left. The children slept. The hose grew quiet. The only noise was the furnace blower kicking on every few hours. When the fan would stop you could hear the little sucking and swallowing noises as our newborn nursed. But in the middle of the night fear swept over Lois. It was another sound. His heartbeat. I didn’t sound right. She woke me up. We bundled up our little son and drove to the Emergency Room. An elderly doctor examined him—put him through a series of tests including inserting a long needle through his tiny abdomen and into his bladder. He screamed and we both cried.
Eventually the doctor sent us home. We drove quietly back to our silent home in the country under starlight. Sunday morning I was interrupted while preaching. Daniel was admitted to the hospital. He was put into an incubator for days. His little arms and legs were tied down. Our hearts ached for him. Some friends visited us and prayed with us. After a few days he was declared well and released to go home.
Our baby would be fine. Now I began to worry about the bills. On the way home Lois showed signs of a dangerous infection. We drove from the hospital in Licking County to the hospital in Knox County. Lois was admitted—shaking with fever.
At was a frightening and confusing time. We wanted to have a large family that would bring honor to the Lord. We hoped for a happy, healthy, holy family, but it seemed that things were not going according to plan. That night in the hospital, my heart was heavy with questions and doubts. Finally Lois went to sleep. I stood in the darkened room watching her—my little wife who had brought six children into the world. She would be pregnant three more times and bear another son and another daughter. But in the dark hospital room my spirit was darkened with doubt.
For some reason, in the quiet, I opened the drawer beside her bed. There was nothing in the drawer but a New Testament—a beautiful green Gideon New Testament with Psalms. I picked it up and held it in my hands. The feel of the little Bible in my hands comforted me. I turned to the Psalm that God had used to put a burden for a large family in my heart, Psalm 127. I read it again silently.
I continued reading the next Psalm. I read it with fresh eyes as if I had never savored the poetry of it or experienced the truth of it before. As I read the Psalm in came to my heart with special, personal application. It was as if the Spirit of God had guided another believer to place that testament in that drawer—as if he had gently guided my hand to open it and my heart to read the Psalms.
Lois woke. Her dark eyes held mine and she was silent. Working to keep back tears I read aloud this beautiful Psalm and it was as if it was describing our very own family.
Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.  When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.  Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table.  Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.  The LORD bless you out of Zion, And may you see the good of Jerusalem All the days of your life.  Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel! (Psalms 128:1-6 NKJV)
Daniel is a strong, athletic, strapping young man now. He is the first of my sons who is my equal in height. In a few weeks he will put his things in his car and drive away to college and I will miss his smile and his easy presence around our house, but for a little while he and all this brothers and sisters were gathered around out table—and around their mother—in the very heart of our house.
May 20, 2010