Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Christmas Miracle

The day before our second wedding anniversary, my husband, Bob, a career officer in the Regular Army, flew out of Anchorage, Alaska, for a year-long tour in Vietnam. In 1969, the Vietnam War was at its fiercest. Hundreds of American soldiers died each week. After a tearful kiss and a last hug, I watched him disappear into the long tube that led to the Alaska Airlines jet.

Blindly, I turned and ran to the car, our red Volkswagen square-back we had purchased in Germany, where we had been stationed scarcely a year. I drove to the end of the runway to watch his plane take off. As it disappeared into the clouds that bright June morning, I sobbed uncontrollably, not knowing if he would come back alive.

For the previous year and a half, we had been trying to start a family. In spite of my constant prayers, month after month brought only disappointment. Now Bob was gone, and I didn't even have a part of him with me to love and to hold.

In November, my younger sister got married. At Christmas, she announced that they were expecting. While I was happy for them, that news only accentuated my pain and loneliness.

At the Watch Night service that New Year's Eve, my father, a pastor of many years, preached on expectations. Based on the words of Jesus that "all things are possible to him who believes," my dad pointed out that "faith is a prerequisite for God to act on our behalf." As he encouraged the congregation to pray concerning a specific need and expect God to do a miracle, I remembered an old song from my childhood, "Prayer is the key to heaven, and faith unlocks the door."

Bob and I had reservations to meet for a week of R and R (rest and relaxation) in Hawaii in mid-February. I began to expect that God would answer my prayers for a child, and that I would get pregnant on R and R. A month after I arrived back home, I knew we would have a baby around Thanksgiving.

On Memorial Day of 1970, Bob came home from Vietnam. In spite of the many dangers which I have written about previously, he returned unscathed. Sadly, he was the only officer in his advisory team to return home alive. 

We were stationed in Rhode Island, and on December 5, 1970, three days after my twenty-fifth birthday, our son, Robert Benjamin, was born. You never saw a prouder father! And he and our son have had a close relationship from the day Bob carried him home from the hospital. I realized that if Bobby had been born before Bob went to Vietnam, Bob would have missed out on an entire year of Bobby's young life.

Christmas 1969 was my worst Christmas, but the happiness of Christmas 1970 was accentuated in comparison to the sadness of the previous Christmas. As time went on, we never had another child, and not by choice. That's why I believe our son was my Christmas miracle. And like that first Christmas long ago when the Son of God was born into this sin-sick world, my best Christmas followed one of the darkest times in my life.

As a young person, I thought God had two ways to answer prayer: "Yes," or "No." That Christmas, I discovered that often God answers, "Wait," because He has an even better plan. I also realized that we tend to get what we expect. An old chorus says, "If you expect it, God will find a way to perform a miracle for you today."

No comments:

Post a Comment