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God Gave a Son
It looked hopeless, but she wouldn't give up. Like Rachel, she was barren, but she found favour with God and He answered her prayer.

As women have from the beginning of time, I began to pray I could give a child—the greatest gift of all—to the man I loved. Countless times I would pray, "Lord, please give us a son, and I will raise him up to worship you."

Crying Wind
Photo courtesy Indian Life Newspaper.

When time passed and there was no child, I began to fear I would remain barren. I would become a dry, twisted, old oak that had never borne fruit. I sat in the darkness many nights and wept bitter tears. I had been cheated many times in life, but this time, Don was being cheated too, and that made the emptiness hurt more.

I tried to pray, "Thy will be done," and accept that there would always be just the two of us. We loved each other and had more happiness than most people. I should have been satisfied, but I wasn't. I began to grow angry. I felt God had turned against me. Other women had children—why not me? Animals had offspring—why not me?

"No, God! I can't pray, 'Thy will be done,' if it's your will for me to be childless! I won't give up. I'll beg you for a child a hundred times a day for the rest of my life! I want a child! Give me a son, and I promise I'll raise him to worship you." Hundreds of times my lips uttered that prayer, "Give me a son! Give me a son!"

I searched the Bible, reading every passage that mentioned children, and I soon found out that in ancient times it was a disgrace for a woman to be childless. Rachel was barren and then "she conceived, and bare a son'; and said, 'God hath taken away my reproach,'" in the book of Genesis. In the book of First Samuel, Hannah wept and prayed to the Lord, "If thou … wilt give unto thy handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord."

"Children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward," wrote the psalmist. If children were a reward, then I would remain childless, because I had done nothing to deserve a reward from God. But I clung to the Bible stories of women who had been barren and then later had children. They were my hope, and I suffered with Rachel and Hannah and rejoiced because their prayers were answered.

I bought infant clothes and blankets and rattles and hid them away where Don couldn't see them. He wouldn't understand; he would think I was losing my mind. On days when I was depressed, I would get out the baby clothes and hold them against my heart and would close my eyes and again say, "Please, God, give me a son."

One September night, as the moon hung just above the treetops and the wind tore the leaves off the limbs, leaving them naked and cold, I stood at the window and for the thousandth time made my plea to God. "Give me a son, and I'll raise him to glorify you." The scene before me disappeared, and instead of the moon, I saw a huge eagle flying across the sky. Instead of trees, I saw a high rugged cliff with a nest tucked in a crevice. The eagle landed on her nest and folded her wings and settled herself on several eggs. An instant later, the eagle spread her wings and flew down the canyon. She was followed by eagles.

The vision disappeared. Once again the moon and the trees were before me. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. The night was the same. There had been no eagle, no cliff, no eggs; but I had seen them as clearly as anything I had ever seen in bright daylight.

"Thank you, God. I know that was your answer. I know that at this very minute I carry my son beneath my heart." And I wept for joy.

I made a pair of tiny baby moccasins out of the softest leather I could find and sewed blue beads on them.

I started to wake up Don to tell him, but I was afraid he wouldn't believe me. He would say I had imagined it or dreamed it. There was no way I could put the beauty of the vision into words. It was too special, too precious, a secret between God and myself.

I was like Rachel; God had taken away my reproach. He had answered my prayer. I made a pair of tiny baby moccasins out of the softest leather I could find and sewed blue beads on them. I stood before my husband and handed him my gift. "These are for your son," I said, trying hard not to show the great excitement and pride in my pounding heart.

"My son?" he smiled. He could see the light in my face, and he knew God had blessed us. "Maybe it will be a girl," he said looking at the blue beads.

"No," I answered, "a man must have a son. I asked for a son. That's what it will be."

I counted the days with great happiness and spent my time making things for our baby and praying for his safe journey into our world. I made a wooden cradleboard to carry my baby, and more clothes than he could ever wear.

It was a happy time for me, and Don was even more thoughtful than he had been before.

On a Monday morning, I knew it was time for the baby to come. My heart beat fast as I realized that in a few hours I would be a mother. When Don came home from work that night I told him it wouldn't be long; the time for the baby to arrive was near.

Hours passed and the pains grew worse. Night passed and morning came. Don stayed beside my bed. Neither of us slept all night, and my strength was gone.

"It's taking too long," Don said. "I'm taking you to the hospital."

I began to cry. "No! Wait! He'll come when he's ready." And I begged him not to take me to the hospital.

A nurse at the hospital helped me into a bed. "How long has she been in labour?" she asked.

"About forty hours," Don said in a voice that didn't sound like his at all.

The nurse led Don out of the room, and I cried harder. I wanted to have my baby at home with my husband. Now they had taken him away and I was alone.

A Kickapoo woman who died in childbirth was considered as having died in battle and was given full honours of a warrior's burial, but that was small comfort now.

Another nurse came in and gave me ice to hold in my mouth. "Don't be afraid," she said and held my hand.

I was sure God had sent an angel to comfort me.

Early Wednesday morning our son was born, a healthy, screaming baby.

"Thank you, God, for our son!" I laughed. "He looks like a baby antelope!" And that's how he was named—our firstborn son, Little Antelope.

Don was standing against the doors of the delivery room so that when the nurse flung the doors open to wheel out my bed; they hit him in the back.

"We've got a son!" I laughed, "We've got a son!"

Later, when I held Little Antelope for the first time, tears ran down my cheeks. How beautiful, how precious he was! My son! I was a mother. I'd been blessed by God to bring life in the world. Never again would I feel useless or ugly. I had borne a son!"

When it came time to fill out the birth certificate, Don insisted we give the baby a Christian name as well as Little Antelope. So our son became Aaron Little Antelope Stafford.

Back home again, I stood beside our baby's crib for hours, amazed at the miracle of life. At night I would creep into his room to make sure he was still there and still breathing. "Don and me and baby make three," I would whisper.

God's sacrifice took on a new and deeper meaning, and I knew I would never take it for granted again.

When I heard the hymn "How Great Thou Art," it touched me in a new way. I had always loved hearing about wandering through the forest glades and about the thunder and the stars—these were things I understood. It was a beautiful song. Now when I heard the part that says, "God, His only Son not sparing," tears would rush to my eyes and I would look down at the baby wrapped in the soft blue blanket in my arms. My son! I would never sacrifice my son—no, not even to save every single person in the whole world! And yet God had sacrificed His only Son for people as unworthy as myself. How much more God loved His Son than I love mine, and yet how much He loved us to let His Son die so that we could go to heaven! God's sacrifice took on a new and deeper meaning, and I knew I would never take it for granted again. I understood for the first time how much God loved me and what His love had cost Him.

When Little Antelope was ten days old, I took him into the woods and removed his blanket and all his clothing and held him up to the sun. "Sun, warm this baby and shine on him always."

Then I knelt down and laid my naked baby on the ground. Little Antelope kicked his tiny feet but didn't cry.

Small baby, naked on the soft floor of the forest,
Grow, my son, and become strong.
Be a happy child; be happy as a man.
Grow my son, strong and wise;
Do not forget your God.
Do not forget your mother in her old age.
Grow, my son, but not too soon.

"Oh God, hear me and see the beautiful child you have given me! I dedicated him to you while he kicked beneath my heart. Every day he will hear of your love and mercy and greatness! Let me keep him and raise him for you, and let him grow into a man and hold his own son in his arms someday. Amen."

I dressed him and wrapped him in his blanket and tied him back onto his cradleboard and returned to the cabin.

The whole world was beautiful. The future was full of promises. God answers prayer!

Crying Wind is an artist and writer of best-selling books, Crying Wind and My Searching Heart. She has also written When the Stars Danced (Sequoyah Editions—Indian Life Books). A mother of four grown children, Crying Wind is based in Seattle, Washington.

Originally published in My Searching Heart. Adapted for Indian Life Newspaper, March/April 2006.




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