Written: Feb. 19, 2016
For the past several months the Arabic Baptist Church has been praying for the family of Max and Shanna Carlton, son and daughter-in-law of Dr. Robert and MaryAnn Carlton, members of our church. We have been praying, because since around September, they learned that the little girl they were expected would most likely not live to see a 2nd day of life, due to physical issues known even while in the womb.
So, we’ve prayed and waited, though our wait was nothing like that felt by Max, Shanna, their other children or the grandparents-to-be. While doctors were consulted, trust was ultimately placed in the Great Physician to bring His will about for this baby to come.
January seemed an especially long month, but finally ten days ago, Karis Joy was born. We all rejoiced that Max and Shanna would be able to hold her and spend very special hours with her, still knowing that she would more than likely not live longer than 24 hours. But our God is always full of generous grace, and He has now allowed Karis to enjoy 10 days more of life than expected, and it’s been a wonderful week of reading updates and hearing of lives already touched by the story of Karis and her trusting family.
Throughout this process, I have been wondering what God is saying to me about what Max and Shanna have been through. It came to me the other day…as I thought about the recent death of my husband. How would we live if we knew we only had a few hours or days on this earth? I’ve watched Max and Shanna through their blogs sharing of the constant watchcare over Karis. The first day, they all held her constantly. Then the next day, they realized that she was still with them, so they had to focus on how to get her the nourishment her little body could handle. That feeding method finally worked into a real “bottle” with friends providing needed breast milk. Diapers had to be changed, baths given. Karis went to church on Sunday; friends came to visit. Life became almost routine as with any newborn. Max had to face returning to work.
But this baby is still anything but a routine — there is the reality that her heart might stop at any time, and this little one they’ve grown to love as the days go by may leave them suddenly and without warning. How do you get ready for that? How do you allow yourself to hope?
The psalmist said it best: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12). The New Living Translation uses the words, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life…” For me, this is the lesson of Karis Joy. None of us are promised tomorrow, but we are guaranteed eternity when we know the One who holds tomorrow.
When I look at one who lived many more days than sweet Karis may ever see, I realize the wisdom Raouf had in being able to number his days. So many things in these past months were done, I am now sure because the Lord gave him an understanding of the shortness of life. He preached the Word, prepared leaders, mentored many, fixed our gutters, cut down dangerous trees, saved money to pay our taxes…one thing after another that showed me the wisdom in “feeling his age”.
Where are we between Karis Carlton and Raouf Ghattas? Are we being wise with the days we have? Are we insuring our children know the salvation Jesus offers? Are we sure of our own? Thank you, Karis Joy for teaching me of the brevity of life, may I be wiser for the lesson.
Grace and Peace