by Roy and Jan Ward

On June 6, 1987, our son James was born. He had a blond tuft of hair and shining black eyes. His first day of life was full of pain and hardship but his desire to live changed our lives forever.

James had surgery on his esophagus within hours of birth and had to be put on a ventilator to breathe. We learned to touch him through the tubes and machinery and talk to his beautiful black eyes. Open heart surgery became common to him, we learned to look past all the tubes and talk to his soul.

But what you need to know about James was that he always looked back, sometimes right through to your heart. During his ten months of life we began to notice the effect he had on the nursing staff. Again and again we would find him in his bed at the nursing station. Not because they were concerned for him physically but because his smile would light up their very difficult days. Parents whose children were rooming with James would ask if he could stay in the room because of his smile. Sometimes we even found parents singing and talking to James when there own children were sleeping. James really did affect people.

The nurses often had to draw blood from his forehead because his veins were too weak in his arms. He would scream, but the moment they were done he would smile at them. I found many a nurse in tears when this would happen, it always touched their heart.

He came home off and on through his life of 10 months and the Lord even let us have him home for Christmas with our folks. We know he lived a full life, we know he ran the race with courage and even joy, we also know he fulfilled his calling and he will always be our first born son.

James went home to be with the Lord April 7, 1988, eleven and a half years ago. It was a sad day to be sure, but it's his courageous character and joyful little face we still remember. Through the course of his brief and difficult life, we were completely without the emotional resources to cope with the ordeal. We were compelled in our weakness to seek the One who is our strength. It was in this process of crying out to the Lord that we received one of the most precious foundation stones of our relationship with Him: God is always predictable.

Our heavenly Father always makes a provision for His children. For us, He provided our dear friends Jack and Diane to walk through the pain and anguish with us. They were there from the first ultrasound to the day we spread James' ashes under the maple tree in the front yard. They spoke the truth to us, hugged us and were there for us when we needed them. We are so thankful for faithful friends. More than that, though, we are thankful for His greatest provision—Jesus!

About 1,988 years before our son suffered his last, our heavenly Father allowed His Son to suffer. Jesus, the Father’s only Son, gave His life as a ransom for our sins. Undeserving of the punishment He received on our behalf, He made the trip to the cross so that forever after all who called on His precious name would not have to endure the agony of separation from the Father. The veil of sin that separated man from God was rent in two forever, giving us free access to our Father—finally and eternally.

From that day forth God's predictability was established in our hearts. No matter what circumstances cloud our days, we can be sure that His love for us will never change. When we cry out to Him from the darkness and anguish of our lives, He will always respond with love, grace and mercy; not because we are faithful or righteous, but because He is Faithful and Righteous! His love for us is so amazing, it never, ever fails. That is predictable! It did not fail us, and it did not fail James.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Hebrews 13 : 8

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