Maternal Instinct

A couple of years ago, I was working as a vet tech at a regional equine hospital during the spring foaling season. A foal came in with its dam due to an illness, and unfortunately the foal had to be humanely euthanized after trying our best to correct the problem. Now, the protocol for such an event (since, in veterinary medicine we can’t explain things to the mare) is to perform the euthanasia and leave the mare with her deceased foal for a few hours to give her time to understand. Then, either the foal is removed, or the mare is transferred to a different stall. In this case, I was instructed to move the mare. So, I clipped a lead rope on her and she followed me calmly and willingly across the facility. Until she saw another mare and foal; then she pulled at the lead, and turned to try to go back to her old stall (where her foal was still laying). She whinnied frantically and kicked me in the hip. I was fine, but very upset. What is wrong with her?? She KNOWS her foal is dead, why freak out now?? I wondered. I’d understand soon enough.

This past spring, my husband and I welcomed our first child to our family. However, in February of 2018, I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy at about 6 weeks along. I was shocked at how heartbroken I was.  Not because I don’t value life, but because I thought that since I only knew of the pregnancy for a few short weeks I should have gotten over it pretty quickly. When I first realized that I was in the beginning stages of miscarriage I was devastated. The only way I knew how to describe how I felt was the way that mare panicked and cried out when she left her dead foal behind.

I felt this horrible maternal instinct, but had nowhere to go with it. For the next six months I wanted desperately to have a baby, and cried over what felt like hundreds of negative tests. Every pregnancy announcement and image of moms with their kids killed me, and every time I felt that way I understood a little better why that mare kicked me that spring day a year or so before. Maternal instinct isn’t just for people. God created animals to feel that powerful, protective desire as well.

It’s for that reason that the recent battle between pro-life and pro-choice has me so upset. If I hurt so badly after knowing about my baby’s existence for only 2 weeks, how could a mother go on living life normally after aborting her child at any stage, but especially late term? Even the animal kingdom knows better than to abandon their young and not feel pain over it. I even thought that once I had my son in my arms this spring, I would recover more completely from my losses, but I was wrong. I still mourn my miscarriages. It still hurts; I expect it always will. After all, it’s not just about how many kids are in your family pictures. It is about life itself.

Of course, this is only my story. There are many others with similar and even more painful stories out there. God declares that children are a heritage of the Lord (Psalm 127:3), and they are to be valued! The price to pay for hurting one of God’s precious children is high: Luke 17:2 says “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea than that he should offend one of these little ones.” That’s a very vivid picture of the absolute sanctity of life.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to society’s problems, or even the answer to the abortion crisis happening right now, but this I know for sure: life is precious. Deep down, we all know it. Even the animal kingdom knows it. We may not ever succeed in improving the society we live in, but may God help Christians to hold fast to His Word and value our children the way He calls us to.

Suzie Altena

Becoming As Little Children

Imagine yourself standing at the foot of a giant redwood tree, looking up at a massive trunk that extends hundreds of feet into the sky.  Or in a boat in the middle of the ocean, with no land in sight and water stretching out endlessly in every direction.  Or lying on the ground, looking up at a night sky filled with countless stars.  Or standing on a ledge overlooking the vastness of the Grand Canyon.  How do these images make you feel?  Small?  Filled with amazement and awe? Like a child?

In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  He says that those who will enter into the kingdom of heaven must become as little children, and one of the most obvious attributes of children is that they are small.  The eyes of the three-foot-tall toddler open wide in wonder at the huge world around them, the same world that we see and pass by without a second glance.  This humility, this living in awe, is part of the “becoming as little children” that Jesus speaks of.  Just as children are so easily filled with joy and wonder, we too should stand in awe of God’s creation, awe that leads us to grateful worship and humble trust in our Creator.  When we humble ourselves before God’s greatness, we should be filled with the joy and gratitude of a child, eyes wide in wonder of our awesome God.

Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day.  After a whole week of seeing God’s goodness, we should be filled with this childlike joy as we enter His house.  Yet so often we find ourselves going through the motions of worship without joy in our hearts, without actually thinking about what He has done for us or being filled with gratitude.  Unlike the child who is humble, happy, and content even in the little things, we take God’s gifts for granted and come into His house out of habit or even grudgingly.

Why are children filled with joy so easily, while we find it so difficult to live a thankful, joyful life?  It’s true that children, being small, are more easily filled amazement.  But another reason children are so easily made content is that they aren’t filled with expectations.  We have a sense of expectation and often see God’s gifts as something that we deserve or are entitled to, but children do not have this sense of entitlement and receive everything as a surprise.

A few weeks ago in church, we sang Psalter #204, which contains the words, “O it is good that I may still to God draw nigh, as oft before.”  How often do we take it for granted that we are able to draw nigh unto God?  He is the almighty, all-powerful God, yet He has given us the right to come to Him both individually and together with His church.  What an amazing gift, yet one that we so often take for granted.

As you prepare to enter God’s house tomorrow, think upon all of God’s amazing works.  Look at His creation.  Meditate on the ways you have seen Him at work in your life.  Count the blessings He has placed in your life this week, the gifts that you may have taken for granted.  And tomorrow, come into His house with the joy and trust of a child, humbled by His love and goodness.

Amy Kaiser

 

 

 

Childlike Faith

“Out of the mouths of children…”

All my life I have been told, and have told others, “not to act childish.” There are several different adjectives that may be used to describe someone acting childish. Obnoxious, babyish, annoying, immature, selfish; all of these are undesirable attributes. This however, is a collection of the worst characteristics that a child obtains and only highlights their sinful nature. By making a slight adjustment and changing this word to “childlike,” we are able to focus on the beautiful gift of children, and see them the way Jesus does.

Beauty, trust, joy, forgiveness… these are wonderful gifts from God that a child obtains. The most predominant one of them all is their faith. Oh, if it were only easy to trust in our heavenly Father all the time, with our whole heart, as a young child trust in their earthly Father! In Matthew 6 we are reminded that our heavenly Father knoweth all the needs that we have, but without this faith we are unable to find comfort in these verses.

“…What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matt. 6: 31, 32).

Did you as a small child worry about whether or not your parents would cloth and feed you? Why then do we worry and lack faith in our heavenly Father?

Childlike faith is NOT a childish faith. A child will love and serve their parents because of the love and care they receive from them. A child is humble, and at a young age does not live their life focused around their appearance and/or reputation. A child will openly and honestly ask questions. They do not challenge or ask confrontational questions, but they eagerly seek the truth. A child desires to be taught! They constantly strive to learn and (generally speaking) will faithfully accept and follow answers and instructions given to them. Over and over again in the New Testament, Jesus exhorts his disciples to humble themselves as children.

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18: 3-4).

Imagine if we lived like that? Whole-heartedly trusting in our Lord for our every need. Imagine if we prayed like that? Without our “mature thoughts” sneaking in and clouding our fellowship with the Lord.

But where does this “childlike faith” go? Is it something that God graciously gives to children, and then takes it away? Quite obviously, the answer is no. On the contrary, it is something that we choose (whether knowingly, or unknowingly) to dispose of ourselves! It is a blessing to be able to mature in the knowledge and love of God. However, as we become more independent in an earthly way, it is important not to think of ourselves as less dependent on God.

Grow in your knowledge of God. Thank him for able minds and faithful pastors to lead us in the truth. Search the Scriptures to hear of His law and read of His promises. Sing praises from the bottom of your heart, and teach the children in your life about the vast and mighty powers of our God. And the next time you pray for God to give your child (or niece, nephew, sibling, cousin, friend, etc) faith, pray for yourself too. Pray for perfect praise, and a childlike faith.

“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David’ they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Matt. 21: 16)

Averly Kikkert