I think about her once in a while.
Even more in the winter, when the sky leans in close and the trees start whispering old stories.
I imagine the way her red hair might have come loose as small hands fought for her attention day after day. I imagine the way she might have sat down after tending little ones long into the night, only to know she would begin again far too soon. I imagine what it might have been like for her back in the 60s as a struggling mom with so many mouths to feed, and the fear she may have felt that they would know hunger. I imagine what it must have felt like to discover that she was pregnant again. I imagine his voice telling her to choose to abort her unborn babe or give him away.
I imagine the thoughts that went through her head that December, and all the ones that followed.
I never knew very much about her, but I know what she chose.
December marked the birth of her choice. Because of her choice, someone else got to choose him too.
December also marked the anniversary of the day he almost died 8 years later – the little boy who would one day be my dad laid in a ditch on the side of the road with a punctured lung, a fractured skull, a bruised heart from blunt force chest trauma and major blood loss after being hit by an SUV.
Yet as he hovered there in the in between, the woman who adopted him made a choice, telling God that if He’d save him, He could have him.
“I prayed for this child, & the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28
I wonder if I could be brave enough to pray that prayer. Knowing that even if my son survived, his earthly life may be forfeit to the ultimate battle of good vs evil.
She chose to raise the white flag. She chose to surrender her plans, her hopes, her will, her son – and he lived.
And so now if I take a step back & look at his life’s work, the picture starts to form. The goosebumps prickle & the hair may rise, but that’s what happens in a good supernatural story. God chose to save my dad the same way his birth mother chose to save him within her womb, the same way his second mother chose to adopt him instead of a new stove one December.
They all chose life. They all chose his life. He did stand up, and one day he did join the battle for lost souls.
God honored his birth mother’s choice to let him live all those years ago. God honored his second mother’s offering, and spared him. Yet does that mean my dad’s life path was predetermined – or was a life in the business of souls ultimately his own choice?
Is destiny real? Or do our own choices hold the power to make our lives great?
Maybe his mother’s offering simply gave him an opportunity to choose.
Our choices are everything. Our choices are the only true, lasting power we have in this life. If we rely on destiny, we give up the gift of free will we all have over our own lives. In the end, we all have a choice. In the end, all we have is choice.
“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”
He was protected by the choices of both of his mothers, and armed with this, he made his own choice. He’s spent more than 30 years acting on it; walking in the night with a flashlight in hand, offering the glow to everyone he finds on the darkened path. He’s spent his days sharing life. He’s spent his years breathing hope. He makes choices every day still as he rises & fights the darkness that will always linger in this world.
And so last week my family stood around the kitchen, celebrating my dad’s life. It was a simple night with the fire going and chocolate cake. The grandkids were loud and the coffee flowed.
This isn’t destiny. This is where a million beautiful choices have led us.
I walk across this porch to visit my family nearly every day of my life now, my arms wrapped tight around my own new bundle of life, all because the one on this property gave me life, because all those years ago, someone else chose life.
We all make a thousand choices every day.
I’m so thankful for hers.