Below are the words that were spoken at Kyleigh’s celebration in the church where Leann and I were married and reflect a few of the things that I learned from Kyleigh in the days immediately following her birth. If in fact the Christian life is best described as a walk from re-birth (John 3) to the time we enter into His glory, then I can say for certain the Kyleigh has helped me progress along this route. Certainly I would have chosen otherwise; I would rather hold my daughter and touch her face just one more time tonight then type these words. But that is not the path provided to me.
We continue to hear stories of how she is changing lives. She certainly continues to change mine. My prayer is that I’ll continue to be receptive to how this tragic event will influence otherwise to make that choice of eternal significance.
Most fathers get to give their daughter’s their first bath, sooth their first cries, and feel their heart beat as they rock them to sleep. But not I.
Most fathers get to hear their daughter’s first words, see their first steps, and buy their first dress. But not I.
Most get to send them to school, intimidate their boyfriends, and walk them down the aisle. But not I.
As hard as this is to think about, the gift that Kyleigh has given me is not one of “have not’s”, rather it’s one that I believe few father’s ever receive. Give me a few moments while I try to tell you about what my daughter did for me in the excruciatingly brief time that I had with her. Let me tell you about the Author of Life, and how He continues to shine bright in this darkness. You see, Scripture is full of beautiful words, words that before April 5th I thought I knew, and while the words certainly haven’t changed, there is now an experience that our family has shared which illuminates those very same words in a new and deeper way.
You must understand that I’ve seen God’s magnificent hands at work more tangibly over the past few weeks orchestrating events better than I ever thought possible. From shared experiences at precise times so vivid in my memory it’s as if they are etched in stone, to the caring hands of nurses and staff to the skillful hands of the cities finest doctor, it refines what it means to suggest as the Scripture says that “God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God.” And while I have always been fond of this passage because I am a guy that doesn’t need to know all the answers, there’s something different here this time. You can say God causes all things to work together for good and offer that to someone in their time of sorrow. I think of it as a present with crisp, sharp lines and a tidy bow on top. I’m thinking of real professional packaging here, no flaws, no mistakes: it’s the perfect gift that borders on the line of a vague platitude when not offered with true compassion.
So what happens when the trials of life put that Scripture to the test? What happens when that bow on that tidy package is a muted yellow and tied to one of the locks in your daughters’ hair? Do I still find rest knowing that God causes all things to work together for good? Strangely, I can’t think of any other way in a time such as this.
Let me tell you that God used Kyleigh to move my faith from believing what is true to knowing what is true. It’s a subtle, seemingly insignificant change, yet its impact is profound. While the assurance that I used to have permitted the existence of doubt, not so anymore. I know beyond a shadow of any doubt that in the midst of our struggle, at the exact moment that I walked through the valley of the presence of death, that the Source of all light was the guide unto my path.
Let me tell you that God used Kyleigh to change my marriage from one that loves and cherishes until death do us part, to one that transcends even the experience of death. Something new is created when the bonds of matrimony are spoken and two flesh become one. As we as individuals can grow in our relationship with God, so too can we as one married flesh continue to grow. What is true of the temporal must also be true of for the eternal. Mine is a family of seven: three in heaven and four right here in this lovely place where it all began for Leann and I twelve years ago in this very room. What a sweet and joyous reunion it will be when all of our laughter is restored under one roof.
All I can figure is that these gifts that Kyleigh gave me must seem confusing to those in the darkness. But I know that I honor my daughter and I bring glory to the Lord Jesus when her story is retold and we share just a sliver of how much she changed our world even though she never took a breath. She gave me and everyone she encountered the ability to experience what the Bible calls the “peace that surpasses all comprehension.” And for that, I’ll be grateful for the rest of this life, and all of the next.