February 15, 2012

Hug Him Once For Me

A few weeks ago I came across a beautiful song called "Hug Him Once For Me". This song was written by Erica and she wrote it after her precious son Braden died. After reading over her and her husband's blog I emailed them to see if they would be willing to share their story here on 4 Days To Eternity. They kindly accepted and so here is their story and her beautiful song.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was a beautiful July afternoon. My husband and our oldest daughter were on their first daddy daughter date! I was trying to get together the finishing touches for my yard sale the next day. We had just had a huge hail storm the week before so we had a couple insurance guys coming to look at our roof and vehicle. The first gentleman showed up about a half an hour after my husband and daughter had left for their date. He needed the to look at the van, so I had to call Bradley and have him come home. I had just nursed Braden and laid him down for his nap. Normally, Braden napped for about 30 minutes before waking up and requiring me to hold him, so I was hurrying to get all I could accomplished in that time.
Bradley came home and checked on Braden (making it the second head peeked in on him). He had been sleeping now about 45 minutes. Right when the first gentelman finished up, the one for the roof came so we were hopping. I decided to stay inside because Braden would be waking up any minute. Just then a girl from our youth group showed up and we sat in the living room to chat. Braden was napping in our bedroom which is just off the living room. I could hear even a whimper had he made one.
A while later the girl left and Bradley came inside to discuss what we were planning to do with the insurance money. We were so excited because we knew we could do the roof ourselves and save a lot of money! We decided we better check on Braden because he had napped for an hour and a half which was EXTREMELY unusual. We walked in together (which had never been done before either) and I picked up Braden. I screamed, realizing he was not breathing. His little feet were cool. I was mortified. I ran outside to drive him to the hospital as it is only three blocks from our house. In the mean time, Bradley was trying to call 911 on his cell phone but could not think to hit send. I had run out without my keys so I was just screaming for someone to help. Just then a city bus stopped and drove Braden and I to the hospital. The whole time, I was crying aloud, GOD SAVE MY BABY!!!!!
Because we had our, at the time, two year old daughter at home, my husband had to grab the neighbor to watch her and drive him over to the hospital. In the meantime I was there, they had rushed Braden right into a room and stuck me in a room by myself. It seemed like forever, but it was only about five minutes before my husband arrived. The thing I will never forget was my conversation with God in that five minutes. I cried out, "God please save my baby!" And very clearly I heard, "No." I turned around to see who was in the room. No one was there. It wasn't an audible voice I had heard but it was so clear in my heart that it seemed that way. I repeated my plea, thinking maybe it was a mistake. "GOD SAVE MY BABY!" And again the reply, "No."
Now let me stop here to say, I was born and raised in a Christian family, as was my husband. We were both saved at a young age and attended church faithfully. My dad was a pastor and my husband's dad is a pastor. I am a pastor's wife! All this to show that I KNOW inside and out what I should think, how I should act and what I should say. Now back to my conversation with God...
My husband arrived and thus began phone calls, friends, family, our pastor, we had to let them all know to pray. I don't remember a lot of the things that happened outside of my conversation with God. They worked on my son for an hour. All the while I wrestled with God. Bits of our conversation were as follows:
"God, YOU don't understand, I NEED him."
"No child, you need Me."
"I can't live life without him."
"My grace is sufficient for thee."
"You don't have enough grace for this."
"My strength is made perfect in weakness."
"I know You gave Your Son willingly, I won't!"
"Come unto Me all ye who are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
"Let me hold you, rest."
Then the nurse came in. "Tell me my baby is ok!" "I can't she said, I'm sorry, we've done all that we can."
I collapsed into the chair. At that moment as my world crashed, I felt as though I fell right into the arms of Jesus. The peace that surrounded me was more than I can explain. It truly was as if I finally surrendered, I finally realized that I could not change God's mind. I surrendered to Him because I had nothing but Him!
The next few weeks were kind of a blur. I never imagined planning my son's funeral. Not to mention we had two. One here in Michigan where we live, the other in Indiana, where we were raised. Cards, prayers, visits all comforted us for several weeks. I was soley reliant on God and His grace. I needed it for every breath. We counted the different ways that God had prepared us for this day without our knowing. We counted the blessings of the trial. We were going to be ok.
Then it hit, six weeks went by, then seven...the calls faded, the cards stopped, the visits no more. The people asking how I was slowed and no one dared to even mention Braden's name. It was as though he never existed. Everyone went back to normal and me, I didn't know what normal was. I had nothing "normal" to resort to. Everything I did, I should have had a baby with me. He was 5 1/2 months old...he couldn't just stop breathing. What does "Cause Unknown" mean anyway!?
My life continued as normal as it could...I still did my devotions. I still went to church, I still answered the questions correctly. I still held it together when I needed to. But inside, inside I was dying. My spiritual life was in starvation mode. I longed for something more but didn't realize that I didn't even trust the One I was longing for. I needed grace, but didn't know how to grasp it. I lay in bed one night and finally explained to my husband how I felt. I told him that it was as though I were on a wrestling mat with Satan. No longer was I fighting to stand, but I was pinned to the mat, fighting to breathe. I felt like giving up, like Jesus was in a very distant corner and I wasn't even sure if He cared that I was pinned!!!!!! In fact, there were a few times that I actually fought to get to my knees and then got knocked forcefully back down. When I turned to see who pushed me, I could not tell if it was Satan or Jesus! My husband, being the wise, Godly man that he is answered with the most perfect words, I will never forget. He said, "As you lay there, I want you to look up in the left hand corner." (This is ridiculous I thought.) "There is a rope. Across that rope there is a word written- GRACE. Have you ever climbed a rope?" he asked. "Of course." I said, pondering his thinking. "Then you know it's not easy to climb a rope. It takes work. It's hard. God promises us that His grace is sufficient, not easy. I don't think that it is God being distant from you, but rather that you think it's easier to let go of the rope than it is to climb." His wisdom astonished me. I burst into tears, knowing he was right. I hated climbing. I thought God should always pick me up when it hurt. He continued to amaze me with his answer, "As for being knocked down, obvioulsy Satan will knock us down, but if Mariah (our oldest daughter) were to walk near a fire,  your reaction would be to push her away. That would knock her down. Let's say she scraped her knee. She would then cry, "momma why did you hurt me?" But you know that the scratch on her knee, is far less damage than falling in the fire would be. Sometimes it is just Satan, and other times, our Heavenly Father pushes us out of the way of the fire, often scraping our knee." Are you as dumbfounded as I was yet? I could not believe this, as I sat here, knowing that my husband lost the same son I did, he was so understanding of who God is.
Life has not been the same since Braden died, that's obvious. But I can honestly say, God has completely changed my life. I echo the words to the song "God's Been Good". "And though I've had my share of hard times, I wouldn't change them if I could, cause through it all, God's been good."
I truly can say I would not change what God has done in our lives. He has used Braden's death to take me to a walk that is deeper than I could have ever imagined. I'd encourage you to check out our blog to read some more details of how God has used this trial in our lives. You can also see the details of how I came to write the song Hug Him Once For Me on the site. I encourage you that if you do not know the Lord, please please please contact me and I'd be happy to share Christ with you. If you do, continue to trust in Him. He has a plan that far out weighs our thinking. Thank you for allowing me to share my story and I pray that God uses it today to be a blessing. My email is ericamcclure31@yahoo.com and our blog is www.bradmcclure.org