A month of Wednesdays have passed since we sat in the back of the pickup truck parked outside that ramshackle hut, the hut without any windows to let in the light.
Somewhere on the dark side of that loosely-hinged door in Haiti, a baby lay limp and naked on the filthy floor.
I balled my skirt in my fists, pulling it up around my knees, and lifted my leg over the back side of the truck. My oldest daughter, Lydia, followed behind me. She stayed close to her mama, like she was afraid the darkness might seep out of the tiny hut and grab her.
I might have been a little scared myself.
We leaned against the dusty truck, waiting and praying to find out about a baby.
Two of the men in our group slipped into the tiny house to find the baby, to ask the questions that needed asking, and to do a quick examination of the child.
The baby boy had been abandoned by his mother, and had been left with his father.
But the father had been unable to feed or care for his son,
his only son,
his firstborn son.
He had no money, and no choice. Except to give him up.
The baby lolled like a limp rag in the arms of one of our men.
The father asked us if we'd take the baby away, if we'd take his son, his only son, to the orphanage. It's not that he didn't want the boy. He only wanted to make sure that his son might live.
One of the women held the baby in the covered cab of the pickup. I sat in the back , in the open bed of a dusty pickup truck, with Lydia. We sat across from the father, all of us bouncing along the rocky path. We tore off, down that mountain road, headed for the orphanage. The father clenched his jaw, staring into nowhere, like he might pluck some courage out of thin air. Like maybe he was Abraham headed up the mountain with his son.
"Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
~ Genesis 22:2
The pickup pulled up to the orphanage's clinic, and we all piled out, toward an altar.
We found out the boy's name was Steve. And we thought it such an odd name for a baby boy from Haiti. We all knew guys named Steve back in the United States. Steve was the public relations guy at the university, the car-insurance salesman, the usher at church. We giggled, maybe a bit too much, the way people do when they're scared for the worst, but hoping for the best, and not really sure what to say.
The orphanage director took the baby into his arms. And the baby's father followed him through the clinic doors.
There would be paperwork to sign. To make it official.
And later, that stoic Daddy held things together when, at last, it was time to go. The orphanage director put a hand on the shoulder of the father and told him he could come back anytime; this was his son.
And none of us knew if he ever would come back again.
That baby named Steve? He was no Isaac. There was no ram in the thicket. For that father, Steve stayed on the altar like a sacrifice.
It's been a month now, and we're home. And tomorrow night, I'll go to a church with many windows and much light, and I'll sing hymns. It's our Lenten tradition, leading up to Easter.
Under that country steeple, I'll think of a rocky road. I'll remember a brave / scared father, and a skinny baby named Steve.
I've given up some things at the altar before--some bad habits, dumb compulsions, lazy behaviors, and so on. But I've never had to lay a real Isaac on the altar. Not really.
I've never given up something that hurt so bad that I didn't know if I could breathe.
But I watched a man in Haiti do it. I watched a man give up his son, because he wanted that boy to really live.
And I've read about a guy named Abraham, who was willing to give up his son, his only son, because He wanted to to be obedient.
And I know in my heart about another Father, who gave up His son, His only Son, because He loved the rest of enough to do the unthinkable.
To lay a child down.
When I got home from Haiti, I looked up that name, Steve. ... I asked Google what the name "Steve" meant:
The baby's name means "Crown, garland."
The most sacrificial and painful acts down through history have always led to the most beautiful crowns.
The greatest sacrifices of the bravest Daddies bring about the most glorious crowns.
And they shine.
But I won't forget, that somewhere tonight, a father will sleep in a dark, windowless hut without his baby boy.
(And here's Steve.)
So, what's your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God. From now through Easter, I encourage you to consider stories that center around our Lenten journey, as we move toward the cross and resurrection of our Savior. (However, you are free to share any story that God is speaking into your life this week.)
To participate in the #TellHisStory linkup, simply:
1. Write your #TellHisStory post, from your heart, straight onto your blog. A #TellHisStory is any story that connects YOUR STORY into the story of God. What story is God telling in your life this week?
2. Link here and invite friends to join in by posting the #TellHisStory badge on your post.
3. Copy the permalink of your post.
4. Using the linky tool, paste your link in.
5. Find someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment.
6. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.
Your words matter to God. They matter to people. And they matter to me!
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Our featured writer tip this week comes from award-winning journalist Ken Fuson. Find his wise words by clicking here.