A 20-Year Promise of God's Restoration & Faithfulness Being Fulfilled, Part 1 of 2
Recently, I shared in my newsletter about my son, Elijah, marrying Abigail Shelton. It was an incredible day as God blessed us with His presence, as tears of joy flowed down our faces. Abigail and Elijah have sought to honor Jesus in every aspect of their lives. Lori and I have seen God's faithfulness as we have added a daughter, Abigail Barker, to our family. This scripture best defines how Lori and I feel about their life and marriage.
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. " 3 John 1:4 NIV
However, there is an incredible story behind the veil that we are compelled to share with you. It is the story of God's promise of restoration and faithfulness that was 20 years in the making. We hope you will be encouraged by God's faithfulness through the next two blogs. God's faithfulness and promises transcend generations, nationalities, economics, and any barrier because God's word is true whenever and wherever we put it into practice. Don't stop believing!
It all began in April 2000 when Lori and I were happily married. We were both extremely blessed to have each other. Our love for Jesus, each other, and our calling for ministry and missions gave us incredible unity and purpose, and it still does today! We desired to have a family, and in 2002, we found out Lori was pregnant!
When we heard the news that Lori was pregnant, we were overjoyed. I was excited and overwhelmed with the reality that I would be a father. When we told our parents, they were absolutely delighted. However, when we found out we would have a girl, we all felt like we would explode with excitement. Especially my parents because they had never had any girls. The Lord gave us a name for her, and we began to receive girl gifts shortly afterward. Everything was going wonderful for five months, and Lori had no problems.
However, one day, we went for a check-up with our kind yet witty doctor. During the doctor's examination, he became silent, which was uncommon for him. Upon further examination, he gave us the worst news imaginable: he couldn't find a heartbeat. It seemed as if every ounce of air was sucked out of the room, and we were left speechless, not knowing what to say or do. Our hearts were overwhelmed with sadness and grief. We were shocked that this was happening to us. However, we still believed for a miracle up until our daughter was stillborn the following day. It was hard, but it blessed me to hold her tiny body in my arms because she wasn't just a thought; she was real. September 7th, 2002, was a grievous day for us, as well as it was for our friends and family. However, our family, friends, and Christian community's love, encouragement, counsel, and support helped us move forward the best we could. We were extremely blessed to have a loving community of friends and family who prayed and were there for us during this time. The Lord's presence and love were comforting beyond explanation. We knew that God didn't take our daughter from us. Our heavenly Father revealed to us that our daughter was going to be raised in heaven by Him. This truth brought comfort, but it was hard not to have her with us. We tried not to focus on "Why" this tragedy happened but on "What Now" do we do, Lord?
It was a tough season for us, especially for my wife. We knew our God didn't do this but realized how we live in a fallen world with a real enemy. We couldn't understand why this happened, but we tried to focus on trusting the Lord even though we didn't understand. Honestly, 21 years later, we still don't know why, but my temporary why doesn't change the character and nature of God. Lori grew stronger during this time and got freed as the Lord comforted her heart. The Lord brought great freedom from fear amid Lori's pain. Lori and I were regaining our strength and faith but didn't know what the future held for us and our desire to have children. We had a heart for adoption and were wide open to God's will through this before Lori was pregnant with our daughter.
Anyhow, around four months, we found out Lori was pregnant. We were joyful but tentative and nervous, not thinking we were ready for this so soon. We didn't even tell anyone for a while. However, slowly, we grew excited as the days went along. We scheduled a doctor's appointment and looked forward to hearing the heartbeat for the first time. However, the same doctor who told us he couldn't find a heart four months prior repeated the same thing about this child. It seemed like it was beginning to happen all over again. He sent us home and said we would need to come back the following week and see if the levels had increased and check for the heartbeat.
I remember crying out to the Lord desperately and pouring out my heart, pleading our case that our child would live for the sake of our heavenly Father. We had many promises the Lord gave us for our child, and we were standing on them. We returned the following week; miraculously, the levels doubled, and the doctor found the heartbeat! We were in faith most of the time throughout the remaining pregnancy but had our moments, especially as we approached the 5-month mark.
However, God was faithful, and later, we discovered we would have a boy! Honestly, we didn't care about the gender. We only desired that our child would be healthy. Later, the Lord gave us our son's name, Elijah Jonathan Barker, and told us he would be a passionate powerhouse of love. God used others before our daughter's conception and at other times throughout the pregnancy to confirm prophetic words the Lord had spoken to us. Elijah continued to grow quickly and was healthy during the remainder of the pregnancy. Lori went into labor without being induced on September 6th. This was the day before our daughter's delivery date. We desired to remember her life as we approached the delivery with Elijah, but we didn't know what to do. However, the Lord did it for us by our son Elijah coming into the world on the same date as his sister! We can't forget that day because the Lord blessed us with two children on that date. I will continue to share more of this story in my next post. Subscribe to our news updates to not miss this amazing full-circle story of God's faithfulness and restoration that came through the marriage of my son Elijah to Abigail Shelton.
All for Jesus,