Pray for that child in your arms – or heart

A friend called one day, in a panic. Her babysitter couldn’t come. Was there any way I could watch her ten-week old foster baby for her—all day long?

My mind raced. So many pressing things sat on that square of my calendar. I couldn’t imagine setting them aside for an entire day. But just then came a God-whisper: What are earthly deadlines compared to loving a real little person?

Of course, I told her. 

So the baby spent the day with the Preacher and me. I remember it well.

I never pray better and more from my heart than while holding a child. So when I gave that baby his bottle I talked to Jesus about him. I’d done that often with other babies. But this wee one, this child sheltered and loved in a good home for now, had a future full of question marks. As I considered the little I knew of his short history, I shuddered. Foster care, teenage mom still acting irresponsibly, a family history of delinquents, drug addicts, and criminals…

The burden for that tiny life seemed suddenly to make him far heavier than his twelve pounds. I heard my prayer pouring out loud and fast. Felt hot tears trickling in searing ribbons down my cheeks. The infant stopped sucking milk entirely, pausing to stare at my face in utter bewilderment as those same tears fell on his.

But partway through my prayer, something changed. To be Christian means remembering that God loves to transform dark situations. He created that baby, knit him together in his mother’s womb. And he specializes in making jewels from dust.

God can transform the least into the most. Transfer people from the back of the line to the front. He delights in making symbols of hope from the hopeless. In using simple things to confound the wise. God turns zeroes into heroes. Grows mammoth trees from invisible seeds. Causes fragile grass blades to slice through granite.  

And, of all things most astounding, God decided that a baby, human and insignificant as the one I held in my arms, would be his chosen tool to redeem the world. How could I not rejoice? This child, I realized while praying over him, has infinitely more going for him than against him!

Lord, I prayed that day, at every crossroads in his life, bring this child a genuine Christ-reflector. People who will keep loving him and pointing him to your son, Jesus Christ. To the Savior of the world, the lover of children, the keeper of our trust, the protector of our spirits, the shepherd on the path, the light in the darkness, the Heavenly parent, and the divine embracer of all children, especially those who get no hugs from their biological parents.

That child is a teenager now. A great kid, in a loving home. And God has proved faithful.

Are you holding a child or several in your arms? In your heart? Pray often over that child. And know God hears.