The Second Time My Son Died

When my son Evan was born he almost didn’t make it. His heart stopped. There was an emergency C-section. My wife was rushed from my presence, mid-delivery, by a whirlwind of white medical coats, the nurses’ panicked eyes refusing to look at me from above their surgical masks. For five horrifying and dizzying minutes, I sat alone in the delivery room, not knowing if I would see my son - or my wife - alive. The ordeal ended when a nurse walked in and passed me a juice box along with the news that both mom and baby were doing fine. The lead nurse from the neonatal unit later told us that Evan's delivery was the scariest she had experienced in 25 years of emergency deliveries. She had no idea why his heart stopped, nor how it managed to start back up again.

But God does, and that's all that matters. I cried that day, thanking God for his life.

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Nearly four years ago, I held my son in my arms, knowing that I was about to lose him again. This time, however, the death was his choice. He was laying down his life and surrendering it to Jesus, and thus becoming new once more, resurrected in Christ. Standing in the water, I saw the fruit of my own life reflected in the life of my son. It was in so many ways a culmination of the spiritual journey I had been on for the past few decades. I could see on his face and in his heart that he was about to embrace and accept everything that I had ever hoped for his life. I was overcome.

I knew that now and forever, he lives. I cried, thanking God for his new life.

Words like “broken” and “overcome” and even “cried,” however, sound a little too polished for what actually occurred in the water that day. A more appropriate phrase would be, “blubbering mess.” See, as I was about to immerse my son in the water, I stood in front of some 400 people and began to proudly and boldly declare: “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

But somewhere between the Father and the Son, I lost my ability to control any type of emotion, and my faculties of speech were overtaken instead by pathetic sobs and whimpers. In fact, if I was a little more legalistic I could have cause for concern because I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually baptize Evan into the name of the Son or the Holy Spirit. Instead, he was baptized into the name of the *unintelligible high-pitched squeak* and the “Hovlveyrtth.” I thought about trying to pass my lack of composure off as speaking in tongues, but my ugly-crying face would have betrayed that immediately. 

Evan later described the moment this way: “I got baptized. My dad’s voice got reeeeally high. It was embarrassing.”

And so, backstage, while Evan changed back into dry clothes, I wept. I wept because on October 18, 2003, God saved the life of my firstborn son, while he was dead in the womb; and 9 years later, on July 21, 2013, God saved him again, no longer is dead in his sin, but born again and alive in Christ.

I was able to compose myself, and walked back out into the worship center to greet many friends* who were lingering around after the service. As I walked past one good friend and godly man, he looked up with a sly grin and asked, “What happened up there? Did you go through puberty?”

That’s ok. Laugh it up, fuzzball. Take my man card away if necessary. In fact, you should probably suspend it for a while because, just as I did a year later when I baptized my daughter, I’m going to be hitting puberty all over again should my third child ever allow me that same privilege.

Easter Sunday is all about new life. There are few privileges I hold more dear than baptizing a new believer into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's the only thing I ever truly want for my children, and it's the one thing I truly hope you experience. If you're curious what that's all about, contact me - I'd love to talk with you.

Happy Easter, friends. He is risen.

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*Friends who, for the record, were also red-eyed and weepy. Sissies.

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DAN JACKSON

Dan is a pastor, author, and speaker. He is the founder and lead contributor for My Ordinary Faith and currently serves as a Campus Pastor for Southland Christian Church in Georgetown, KY.