one to one: only five days
Keith Burden is the executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Email Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the National Association of Free Will Baptists, visit www.nafwb.org.
On May 14, 1984, I held my daughter Katie in my arms and said “hello” to her for the first time at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A little more than twenty-three years later she held our five-day-old granddaughter in her arms and said “goodbye” at the same location.
During one of the most difficult moments of this ordeal someone asked what I had learned from this experience. I’m not quite sure what I said at that moment, but since I’ve had a chance to think about that question, here are some of my thoughts. I learned that:
GOD IS FAITHFUL. I cannot tell you I understand what has happened or why, because I don’t. I cannot presently see what good will come of this, because I can’t. I cannot tell you I am rejoicing, because my heart is still broken. Nevertheless, I CAN tell you in spite of everything we have gone through, God has never abandoned us. "For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).
FAMILY MATTERS. Outside of my commitment to Christ, nothing matters more to me than my family. I am proud of them. They have been models of strength, grace and courage in the face of adversity. They have conducted themselves with dignity, integrity and compassion under extremely difficult circumstances. Our children have passed through the fire and their faith has emerged like precious gold. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4).
FRIENDS ARE A TREASURE. Quite frankly, this experience would have been unbearable without our friends. The strong embraces and shoulders to cry on—the visits at the hospital, phone calls, e-mails, cards, flowers, food, gifts and many, many prayers helped us keep our heads above water when it looked like we might drown in despair. The support system for our family has been overwhelming. We can never repay folks for all the kindnesses they have shown. "We give thanks to God always for you all" (1 Thessalonians 1:2).
I CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS HEAVEN. Since the first day I heard our daughter was pregnant, I started praying her child would come to know Christ at an early age. I never imagined she would “know” the Lord the way she knows Him at this moment. I’m looking forward to getting to know my granddaughter better. Five days were simply not long enough! I believe she is in heaven, and I aim by the grace of God to join her there some day.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelations 21:4).
In loving memory of Karoline Bea Stokes, September 2, 2007 – September 6, 2007