Last night was our church’s annual Vision Night. It’s a time we look forward to every year as we gather to celebrate what God has done, and look with anticipation to what he is going to do.
Last night we rejoiced – as we should – over God’s blessings of the past twelve months: new churches planted, a new campus launched, hundreds of baptisms, thousands of first time guests, and multiple community partnerships started.
But it was in the midst of those prayers of thanksgiving that I glanced up, caught sight of a little face, and snapped this picture:
This is Samuel James. If you’re not familiar with his story, Sam is a miracle baby. His mom Amy is one of our administrative assistants, and last year she went from a completely healthy pregnancy to severe prenatal distress within a matter of hours. I remember getting the call on November 20th, a Sunday, just before our 11:00 service began. LJ and Amy were in an ambulance headed to the emergency room, delivery was imminent, and Samuel was only 25 weeks along.
At the end of that service, we called our campus to pray on behalf of Samuel, Amy and LJ. We asked God to spare his life, to allow Amy to carry him a bit longer, to allow his lungs to develop…anything. It was a prayer of absolute desperation, knowing that this child could not survive except for the hand of God.
Sam was born two days later. He just barely weighed a pound, and was the size of a Coke can. The first several weeks of his life was literally a day-by-day waiting game. He spent months in the NICU, and even upon release (a miracle of itself), LJ and Amy were told that he would not be able to be out in public for the next two years for risk of infection and sickness.
That was February 28th, and in that time my little buddy Sammy J has proved them wrong over and over. He’s smaller than most babies his age, but he is as healthy as a kid could be. He visits our offices frequently (a highlight for all of us), is in church most weekends, and is a living, breathing, grinning miracle.
When I think of God’s blessings on our church over the last year, yes, I am grateful for churches planted and lives changed. But I can’t possibly overlook the miracle of Sam’s life. In some ways, Sam seems to represent a 2011-2012 that has been marked with extreme highs and lows with young families in our church. In some stories, God’s faithfulness was shown in the sparing of life. In others, his faithfulness was proven by his comfort even in death. But in all, we have seen that he is faithful. In the good times, he’s faithful. In the bad times, he’s faithful. In life or in death, he’s faithful. Whether we baptize one or a thousand, whether we make budget or face layoffs, whether our programs soar or crash, he’s faithful.
That’s why our night of vision had to be anchored in a night of reflection. That’s why our anticipation for the future had to rest in his provision of the past. That’s why – before we dared to ask and dream – we had to stop to remember and be grateful for the good moments as well as the bad.
Samuel James is one of the clearest examples of the good moments. He’s what I think about when I think about God’s faithfulness to the Summit Church in 2011-2012. What are the moments you think about? Comment below.