There are short moments in life that truly take my breath away, they transport me out of this shell of flesh and reveal to me who I truly am, my soul belongs with the Father in heaven. It doesn’t happen often, but recently a few instances rocked my world.
The first happened a little less than a month ago. My baby nephew, Levi, lived a very short life during the month of March, after just three weeks God spared him from the pain he was enduring on this earth and took him to be at peace with Him. Now, I will insert here, I know the eternal fate of infants is much debated upon, it has been much debated by myself and my family during the past couple of months, it’s not something that is clearly spelled out in scripture. However, I know that God deals lovingly and justly with all humanity, I know He has extended to us His grace, whatever is their (infants’) place, it is in the hands of the Father and it is the best thing. I’m not going to debate this here, it’s not the point of my thoughts today, yet I will say that it is my view that Levi is in heaven.
Levi was born with Down’s syndrome and a disease called Hydrops, which caused his body to retain excess fluid and he was not able to process it out of his body properly. He lived in the NICU for three weeks, he was so small, he was often sedated, but once I got to see his eyes open and looking around. He would wiggle his toes if you touched his feet. His life was so small and short but he impacted so many people.
The day that Levi died there were many people at the hospital to support Hadley and Julie, Adam and I were able to be there as well. I cried a good portion of the day, thinking of, never being able to imagine, what it felt like to hold a human who was dying, let alone your own child. As I watched Hadley and Julie walk back to that room, knowing that was the situation they were walking into, I realized I was observing some of the most courageous strength I would ever see in my lifetime, to be able to face death head-on, to have the courage to trust your child to the Father, in the midst of such an ominous unknown, I don’t know how you can do that. But I saw it happen. I pictured them, over and over, in my mind holding tiny Levi, for the first time in his life, not having tubes and needles and machines hooked up to him, and knowing that as you’re holding him, he’s being handed over to the Father. He died in Hadley’s arms, he slipped from his earthly father’s arms safely into his heavenly father’s arms. What a strange and intimate moment, how close to heaven that must feel, as if you might be able to touch it in that split second after his last breath. How clear it is, in the face of death, that we are surrounded by temporary, we are not made for this place, our souls long to look into that perfect place. I had a strong desire to attempt to jump into that portal of Levi’s entrance to heaven and escape this uncertainty. This painful world will be overcome. I felt my heart being pulled closer to heaven, to the Father, so much hope wells up in my being for that day!
A second moment followed closely on the first one’s heels. Levi’s funeral was one of the most beautiful and spiritual experiences of my life. Hundreds of people gathered to honor the life of baby Levi (or “baby wee-vi” as his sister Kenna calls him), his grandfathers stood up and spoke of how much God has taught them through the trials of this circumstance, demonstrating to us all how living a godly life, openly displayed to your family, impacts greatly your offspring. Everyone in Hadley’s church and community stood by them and supported them so readily, without a moment’s hesitation, their respect for them was so evident and it was displayed very evidently at Levi’s memorial that the strength that Hadley and Julie had for this circumstance had been being given to them for decades, and had been passed down through their fathers. What a testament to godly living and truly investing in the lives of your children!
Hadley led worship at Levi’s funeral. He sang of God’s power over the grave, His provision of grace, how strong His love is for us. It was a ridiculously amazing display of reckless faith in God’s plan and determination to give God the glory regardless of human understanding. Human understanding, I’ve heard it over and over, is how tragic Levi’s death was, it can really crush your heart to think of such a short and painful life. But God’s ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts. I have rarely seen courage and faith so determinedly lived out as I have seen through my brother and his wife. I am so thankful for them, I’m so thankful God allowed me to glimpse this courage, this pain, this little bit of heaven here.