It was about two months ago, I think.
The change in the seasons had the Little Lamb’s asthma all stirred up. We were doing breathing treatments like clockwork for days. By the time Sunday arrived, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her in the nursery. Small as she is and as labored as her breathing can become in a blink, I wanted her under my eye. So I went on in the sanctuary, her timidly by my side.
I could tell she liked being in the service. She sat in my lap like a little darling during the Welcome, and perched contentedly on my hip as we stood to worship with everyone else. It was special having her there with me. It occurred to me that even The New Chick had been with me to Big Church when he was a wee little thing in the sling. And of course the Big Two sat with me weekly. But this little one, the Little Lamb, she never had.
The worship band closed out one song and seamlessly began the next. I closed my eyes at the familiar chords. About the time the words began, sweet Little Lamb put her forehead to mine. And we stayed just that way throughout most of the song. Something passed between us, I think. And God did a new work in my spirit as he showed me how her life mirrored mine.
All of these pieces broken and scattered
I opened the front door and saw her tiny frame draped over the social workers shoulder, sleeping like maybe she never really had before. Even as I lifted her out of the woman’s arms and turned her to rest on my own, she didn’t stir at all. I walked through the house and laid her in the crib. No movement still. It was then that I got my first real look.
Her hair was filthy, cut shorter in some places but not in others. It made a jagged frame around her face that was far from wiped clean. She wore a shirt two sizes too big, and a diaper. That was all. She had nothing. No one. Just the shell of tiny girl that was broken and empty in every way.
In mercy gathered, mended and whole
I heard her stirring hours later and went quickly to the room. Surely she would be confused, unsure of where she was or how she got here. Panicked by the fact that no familiar face remained. But as I walked into the room talking as smoothly and gently as I could, I saw only a blank stare. No trauma. No crying. No nothing.
I gathered her up and she let me. She had nothing to offer; no smile no warmth, no cuddle. So I took her as she was. And she seemed willing enough to put her life in my hands.
As the days went by her blank expression remained. She rarely showed excitement and she never cried. Except at bedtime when she screamed and screamed and screamed. She slept with me for weeks. Fitfully. And woke up often to cry out and thrash about.
But when daylight came, she was calm again. Floating through our days neither resistant nor unhappy.
But not happy.
The shadow of what had been remained over her. As if she was still living the realities of her old life. Detached and independent. Wounded.
I remember the first time I heard her laugh. She and Anna were on the porch. Anna could make Scrooge smile, so I’m not a bit surprised that she earned the first gift of a giggle. It was the sweetest, tinkling sound. Not a belly laugh. Not an outright chuckle. But a start. She was beginning to mend.
Day by day the little changes came. She would lay her head on my shoulder rather than sit upright. She made more eye contact and showed preference over food and toys. She raised her arms for me to pick her up. She smiled so big when Titus came home from school.
Always I would leave her in the nursery on Sundays, and always when I came to get her she would walk calmly over knowing it was time to go home. But that one Sunday. That one Sunday when I opened the door and she smiled with glee and came running as fast as her clumsy legs would let her. I scooped her up and knew, she was healing.
Empty handed, but not forsaken, I’ve been set free, I’ve been set free.
Oh Little Lamb. You came to us with nothing. It had all been taken. But, Little Lamb, you were never forsaken. You have a Father who loves you. I know your story. I know how He intervened. I know how He came to your rescue. He snatched you, helpless one, out of the clutches of an evil world full of wolves. He set you in a place with people who are wild about you. Who would do anything for you. Who are determined to protect and fight for you. Who love you because He loves you.
May your past hold no sway over your glorious future.
You’ve been set free. So live in freedom.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.
Oh I can see it now, Oh I can see the love in your eyes, laying yourself down, raising up the broken to life.
Oh Jesus, we were dirty. Unable to do a thing about the filth that clung to our lives. Starved because nothing in this world could feed our famished souls. Dying because there was not one who would or could offer us life.
We were pitiful, dejected, abused, abandoned. Clothed in rags and smelling of nothing worth embracing. This wretched and sinful world had had it’s way with us and left us for dead.
Ah, but You. You came to the rescue. You took us in and gave us rest. And as we were revived, you began to feed us. And gently clean us. You showed us a brand new way to live. A life full to the brim of Your love lavished on us.
Let us live like the beloved children of a most wonderful Father who loved us enough to give up everything to get us.
Gracious….I couldn’t stop the words. This one took an hour.