Empty Arms, Full Hearts
by Pamela Babcock
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Empty Arms, Full Hearts
Fourteen years ago, this December 1, our second child Andrew Christian Babcock was born. He was at 35 weeks, 2 days gestation (considered full-term), but his lungs were at an 18 week developmental stage. From the operating room he went straight to the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit. For the next eight days we were on a roller-coaster of emotion and faith, disbelief and trust, hoping and praying with all of those who beseeched the Lord in prayer on Andrew’s behalf. We sang and talked to him of our love and determination to help him with whatever he needed in life. When we arrived on the morning of the eighth day, I saw that his oxygenation numbers were down, and I knew that he was not going to go home with us. We stayed by his side with our two and a half year old son Josh, quietly receiving what God had for us. Later that day, with my family surrounding us, we held our baby for the first time. For three hours Ray and I and my mom each took turns holding him. His Dr. would come by every few minutes to listen to his heartbeat as it grew slower. He died on a Sunday evening two and a half weeks before Christmas.
So, we went home with empty arms and joined the group that no one wants to be a part of, those who have lost their babies and their children to death. We were profoundly disappointed that we would never know Andrew on this side. So many have gone before us in this suffering and pain. Ray and I walked together in this yet were experiencing it as if from two different universes. Though our world stopped for a while, the rest of the world went on. People were preparing for Christmas. All of the Christmas music was playing everywhere we turned, even in the hospital during those eight days. Andrew’s ID card on his care table had a sticker with Santa arriving in his sleigh full of toys. Never had that character seemed so absurd.
I had previously accepted the sovereignty of God in my life and knew that even in this I could trust Him. I found no anger, or never felt that God had turned His back on us. Yet, with my whole being I cried out, “I want my baby back.” Each time the Spirit’s counsel to me was, “Child, there is baby, Jesus, receive Him anew, embrace Him.” Then, what I experienced that Christmas was the most profound sense of unspeakable Joy and Assurance that God is Love. Because of the Christ child born into this world of sorrow and pain so many years ago, I felt like dancing, tears of sorrow and joy were a constant in my life during those weeks. I felt heaven was literally just a step away. That because of God’s amazing love and providence in Jesus the Lamb of God, we who turn to Him in repentance and faith will experience the most profound gift ever given, the power of being brought back to life, knowledge that death has no hold over us. We are eternally safe in the loving arms of God the Father through the birth, life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.
I will never be the same again. In time God gently lifted that mantle of comfort from around me. The sense of heaven being just a step away became dimmer, though I still carry that sure knowledge. On December 19, 1991, we were wonderfully blessed with our daughter, Andrea Christine Babcock. Again, it was Christmas, and our arms were full of the wonder of life and health. Our hearts held a profound appreciation to God for the wonder of life and of the amazing love of God given to this world through the Christ child-Jesus. Emmanuel! God is with us!
Hear the word of God from Revelation 5:11-14 “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped.”
May we be among those in eternity who exist to worship this God and His Lamb! I pray that I will be there with Ray and all of our children. In Christ, Pam Babcock
(November 3, 2004)
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Your title is just perfect, and your testimony so touchingly beautiful that it is a sure read clear through to the end. Thank you for pointing us to Jesus Christ in such a poignant way. You may want to consider making the first part of the article into more of a narrative form and also looking up some synonyms for the word "profound"--that's just my 2 cents. But it is beautifully written. Thanks. You've been a real blessing.
Wow! Pamela, the tears streamed down my face as I read your article.... and I never cry! To date, I'm 34 weeks and two days into my pregnancy and your writing has blessed me immensely. You reminded me that with all the worries and concerns that bringing a child into the world we are presented, ultimately it is the God of all that dictates our path in life. We can prepare for anything and everything we may endure, but only he knows how he will shape us from those experiences. Thank you for smiling through the darkness and allowing God to reveal the truth of the Christmas story to you. Thank you that he continues to use your pain for our spiritual growth. Keep writing... you know how to challenge!!
Pamela, you describe so well the feeling of being close to Heaven when you know that's where your loved one has just gone. Thank you for being brave enough to share your experience so eloquently.
Thank you, Pamela, for the courge, the strength, the faith to share with us "Empty Arms, Full Hearts." I, too, know the indescribable joy of knowing a son now sees Jesus face-to-face. I know the mantle of peace gifted me during that 'season' no parent ever wants to come. God's grace in those days, and all days, is awesome ... isn't it!!! May your Christmas season be especially blessed and meaningful this year.
Pam, what a heart stirring article. I was finding it difficult to read through my tears. How wonderfully precious that God held you so close during one of the most difficult times I'm sure that a person could ever experience. Yes glory, honor and praise to the Lamb for He is truly worthy of our praise. In His love, Sharon
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