Abundant Life

If you are a facebook friend of mine, you already know that at the end of February I posted an ultrasound picture and the words "And Sarah laughed..." from Genesis 12. Yes, it means that we are expecting a surprise baby in the middle of September! What you probably do not know is the rest of the story...

Early in January with no idea that I was pregnant, I went to spend the day in a prayer retreat at the Trappist Abbey in nearby Lafayette, OR. This has become a familiar place for me. I spread out my Bible and journal, lit a candle, had my Dutch Bros coffee in hand, rocking chair in place, and at the window looking out over the rainy landscape. As I listened to God and journaled, John 10:10 rose to the surface as a verse for me to press into this year. "I have to come that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Abundant life. As the day unfolded, the idea of abundant life filled my heart and knew that it was word for 2012. As I prayed about abundant life for my family, ministry and myself, a prayer that I have prayed for many years found its way into my journal.

"Lord, thank you for the gift of one child. It has enabled me to be in ministry in a way that I could not have with several children. Thank you for being Enough for me. Thank you that I have so many people in my life to be a spiritual mother too. Thank you for meeting my heart desire for more children, help me to trust You in this plan for my life and that it is the way for Abundant Life for our family".

Twelve years ago, our daughter, Madi, was born and is the delight of our hearts. We imagined ourselves with four children--and four children close together. We were quickly ready for a brother or sister for Madi. Little did we know that we were headed for over a decade of disappointment. After several rounds of secondary infertility treatments and procedures, we began to release our desire for a biological child after 8 years of waiting and praying.

God filled our hearts with a big ministry, lots of college students, and an incredible daughter. While the prayer continued to be close to our hearts, I felt sure that God had given us Madi to nurture our parent hearts, but had closed the door of biological children in order for our focus to be more fully on ministry. We continued to pray about adoption and over this past Christmas discerned that we want to move forward in that process.

With the words, Abundant Life ringing in my ears and heart, I was completely unprepared for the abundancy of life that Holy Spirit has for us in 2012. Two weeks after my prayer retreat, I had the startling news that I was pregnant! After 12 years!

About eight years ago, a friend who did not know our journey for another child, prayed over me during a commissioning service. She prayed the powerful words that I would live into my namesake and become like Sarah, the Mother of Nations. Several months after this, I began my ministry at George Fox University and saw how God was opening my heart to love and spiritually care for many students who would influence the nations for Jesus Christ.

Now, again, I find myself in the place of Sarah who is laughing at the incredible work of the Holy Spirit--that after all these years I might have the delight of having another child! I have laughed a lot lately--at God's seemingly irrational but perfect timing, of sharing a little of the story of the Matriarch Sarah, and of Abundant Life in me and in Jesus! I can't share the story of this surprise baby without giving thanks to a great God who is Enough and who brings Abundant Life. Jesus is Enough without giving us the gift of another baby--we found that God did fill our hearts with many people to spiritually parent. And Jesus is Enough now with the beautiful gift of Abundant Life that I could not have planned to be part of 2012 and the rest of our lives!

Thanks be to God! I hope and trust that you too will laugh along with Sarah as God answers your decade-old prayers!

Sarah Thomas Baldwin, M.Div
University Pastor
Dean of Spiritual Life