23 Mar Will Your Last Day be Your Greatest?
Scott Puckett’s son, Michael, and his then pregnant wife, Emily, came back from their first ultrasound in 2016 with the news that their baby girl had alobar holoprosencephaly (no separation of the cerebral hemispheres of the brain). Doctors told their family that only one in 10,000 will survive birth if they make it to delivery. With a baby of this severe level of condition, most women will naturally miscarry, and many others will choose to abort.
On April 28, 2017, sweet Blakely was born, and they waited with hopeful anticipation as they prepared for her to live only a few minutes, maybe hours. However, she survived and eventually came home after several weeks in the NICU, taking with her a permanent feeding tube and a battle with seizures that kept her on strong medication.
Blakely was in and out of the hospital all 10 months of her life. The last stint consisted of six and a half weeks on a ventilator to keep her alive with hopes that they could wean her off of it. That led to the hard decision for Scott’s son and wife to remove the ventilator in hopes that she would survive its removal. Jesus took Blakely home on February 18, 2018. Read as Scott shares how God is working in his heart and challenges us with a new perspective on Easter.
When Michael and Emily had to make the decision to remove Blakely’s ventilator, my wife and I made the unexpected trip to Florida to be with our son and daughter-in-law. I remember walking out of the St. Pete airport thinking I can’t believe how physically bright it is here. The sun was intense, warm, and penetrating—not fitting the mood we were feeling as we quickly made our way to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
“The sun was intense, warm, and penetrating—not fitting the mood we were feeling as we quickly made our way to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.”
The hospital (as you might expect) is quite colorful and designed to be appealing to children, probably to help put their minds at rest while staying there, but to the adults visiting their child (or grandchild) it feels like camouflage attempting to hide the reality of a broken world where children get sick, very sick, and sometimes die. In the midst of sharing, praying, crying, and worshiping together as a family in the hospital room, Michael shared words from his heart as only a father could about his precious daughter. One thing he shared especially gripped me. He said,
“Our hardest day is going to be Blakely’s greatest.”
In nine words, Michael summed up the depth of darkness I was feeling with the hope of light I was needing. That was a mind-blowing, heart-shifting perspective that I needed at that moment—all of us in the room needed. It acknowledged our great pain while also acknowledging our greater desire for Blakely to be whole and home.
As you know, it was Blakely’s greatest day—and it was our hardest as well. Those hard days continue for us and especially for Michael and Emily, but knowing that Blakely is free of tubes, seizures, and suffering fills us with hope that carries us through the day. It also fills us with a longing for heaven—our real home.
“As you know, it was Blakely’s greatest day—and it was our hardest as well.”
As we prepare for Easter, let me ask you a few questions. First, do you have a hope that can carry you through the “hardest day”? Some of us are there now perhaps, but all of us will be. Second, do you have a hope that truly believes that your “greatest day” is your last day on earth? Can you rest knowing that there is One who has forgiven you and has proclaimed you righteous before God because of His death and resurrection?
If you do have this kind of hope, do you know of anyone that does not? That name that comes to your mind right now—will you pray now for their soul? Will you move towards them with compassion to invite them to church Easter weekend where they can hear the hope of Christ?
“Do you have a hope that truly believes that your ‘greatest day’ is your last day on earth?”
According to studies, 82% of unchurched people are at least somewhat likely to come to church if invited. With the need for this kind of hope so great and the opportunity for a positive response so strong, let’s be relentless in reaching out to invite our neighbors this Easter. Who are you going to invite?
—Scott Puckett, Travelers Rest Campus Pastor