The Promised Land – Janet’s Story
This is story about a journey filled with giants and a promise.
This is the story of my brave heart boy called Caleb, our little family and our very big God.
It all started back in 2001. My husband rang a very pregnant me and said ‘God just told me that we are meant to call our baby Caleb.’ I didn’t love the name at first, but told my husband I would think and pray about it. So that night I went to the Bible story of Caleb and there in the lines of the page, I read the following verse:
“But as for my servant Caleb, who has a different spirit, and who has followed me wholeheartedly, I will bless the land where he places his feet.” Numbers 14
I felt it drop in my spirit and my son jump in my womb – this was God’s name verse over our baby.
10 months later I sat in a specialists office with our now 6-month-old son cradled on my lap. Caleb had been born with two toes missing on his right foot. At the time the pediatrician suspected this was a simple foot deformity that wouldn’t be a big deal. Nothing could have prepared me for the giant that the specialist introduced to us that day; a giant called Fibular hemimelia.
I could not process the words spilling out of the specialists mouth. He told us that Caleb had a condition which meant he was actually missing many ligaments, muscles and bones throughout his entire leg. The road ahead would be filled with daily pain and he would require multiple surgeries. I felt like throwing up as he described the details of some of the surgeries Caleb would need. Some would involve lengthening his leg by cutting the bones in his leg in half and using an external frame of pins and screws going through his leg. I shuddered as he told us that WE would have to be the ones to turn the screws and force his bones apart, causing them to lengthen and grow new bone. He told us that we were now facing a fight against daily pain and his ability to walk.
In reality we were fighting to save his leg.
I remember as I walked out of the appointment, the world seemed different. There were so many giant voices in my head and they were all presenting themselves as our new truth. I wanted to be brave, I wanted to stand strong and steadfast in my faith, but in reality I felt abandoned, confused and in a new place surrounded by giants that seemed so much bigger than me.
I moved through those first weeks in a numb reality – the paradox of celebrating and loving the joy of a new baby, all the while carrying a confusing grief that sat so heavy in my spirit. My mumma heart simply could not comprehend the reality of the pain that he was facing and the horror to think that my precious boy’s body would be repeatedly broken and put through such torture. I wanted to fight this giant and see it gone right away but it seemed impossible to defeat and I could not find God anywhere.
One night, I found myself on the floor of my bathroom. It was there on the cold, wooden floor that I finally surrendered and allowed myself to not only cry, but to weep. It was there, in the midst of my brokenness and weakness that God came down onto that floor and met with me. He reminded me that He too not only felt my pain, but had given His son over to be broken and tortured so that we could face anything in our way from a position of victory and purpose.
As that truth began to quieten my tears and my fears, I felt the whisper of our victory come, as I remembered the name and verse we were given over our boy before we knew the giant of ‘Fibular hemimelia’ even existed. Before me sat the revelation that God had given us a promise before we even understood the full depth of it. He had not only promised to defeat our giant, but He had prophetically promised that Caleb would be blessed AND that He would bless the ground where he placed his ‘feet’
Armed with a newfound strength in this truth, I rose from that pool of tears and declared into the silence that this WOULD be a different story.
This would not be the story of a big, scary giant; this would be a story of a bigger, faithful God.
God had a different plan to ours for our child, but He put him together perfectly! If God had chosen this for us, then there would be a purpose in it. Caleb was woven and spun with a God story to live out and we could choose to live it in victory or live it as the victims.
We chose victory.
With eyes set heavenward we began to walk it out, one step at a time. I soon learnt that my greatest battles were not the details of the human reality, but the ones fought on my knees. As reality continually pressed in questioning God’s promise to us, it was in prayer that the battle was continually won, the plan was formulated, and our purpose was revealed.
The truth is that these last sixteen years have been filled with a reality that has been far from what many would define as a gift. It has been filled with 18 surgeries, chronic pain, constant rehabilitation, and an unexpected, additional diagnosis. There have been fights to find new procedures & medical interventions that have meant that I have had to do things to my child, that no mother should have to endure. The truth is that there are many chapters in this story that have torn my mother’s heart apart.
But through the details of every chapter, we know the final victorious ending has already been written.
In and through every one of those moments, God has taught me how to incline to His Spirit and follow His lead. He promised that my Caleb would have a ‘different’ spirit and that He would bless us wherever we went. My job was to guard that prophetic promise and cultivate an environment in every circumstance we faced, where that promise could be outworked.
And now 16 years later, the major theme of this story that He wrote for us, that I wasn’t ready to hear back then, He has revealed along the way. When I first rose from my puddle of tears on the bathroom floor, I thought this would be a story about God’s power and victory. Looking back now I can see that this story was about so much more. Every time I held my hands out for the next part of the plan God responded by revealing to us that our story wasn’t just about us – it was about others too.
As together with God we got busy tackling the giants that came our way, our assignment was to love, encourage and minister to those we encountered along the way. We were to be His ambassadors and His mission strike team into the places of pain and darkness that we could not have reached otherwise.
We were to be Presence Carriers, bringing a shift in the atmosphere and in some cases a tangible answer into the places where we and Caleb literally placed our feet. In the midst of our own darkness, His light was not only enough for us, but for others walking in darkness at the same time. There are countless stories of precious moments and encounters. From praying for others, to being the hands of practical blessing, to finding medical answers not only for Caleb but that others could use, to simply remembering to show kindness no matter what we faced, God has used our circumstances to position us in the midst of so many other peoples’ stories. Just like Caleb in the Bible, as we walked boldly through our land of giants, we could help lead the way for others. Each step serving as a reminder that God is bigger than our giants and a keeper of His promises.
Our story is not yet finished, there is much more for Caleb to face. We didn’t choose this story for ourselves but we are so grateful that God chose it for us. There are still chapters to write, but we already know how this victorious story will end for us! In the meantime, we keep our eyes are fixed upward and outward, expectantly waiting to see who else is yet to be a part of this miraculous God story.