Not long ago I had the privilege of spending the afternoon with joy personified—joy that goes around in the form of a seventh grader named Becky.
According to doctors, Becky has an extra chromosome—Down syndrome. Although I’m not familiar with all the medical implications that go along with that diagnosis, I would agree that Becky does have something extra. But in my books, the extra that stands out most is her joy.
When my husband and I went on a walk with Becky and the rest of her family on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I suddenly saw the world through fresh eyes—eyes of wonder and pure delight.
Where I might have walked right past a swampy bog, Becky had her eyes peeled the whole time, certain that at any moment she’d see a turtle sunbathing on a rock. Where I saw a field of weeds, Becky squealed with delight and promptly gathered a dandelion bouquet for me, including some to be tucked behind each of my ears.
Skipping with happiness on the way home, she looked at me with a grin that lit up her entire face. “Can I hold your hand?” she asked.
And so I walked the rest of the way back with both hands full, one with a yellow bouquet and the other with joy herself.
Later that evening we all sang hymns together, led by Becky’s older sister, Hannah, on the piano. Hannah asked for requests, and after a few selections, Becky piped up, “Let’s do my favorite! ‘Before the Throne’!”
I was a bit chagrined to discover how rusty I am on my hymns, and I wasn’t sure I could even pull out a tune for that one. So as the song started, I just sat back and listened.
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea…
As I looked around the room, my gaze fell on Becky. She sat perched on her chair, her face beaming and her legs swinging to the music. To my amazement, she knew every word of the song. I listened as she belted out the next line:
My name is graven on His hand
My name is written on His heart
Just last week I came across a startling statistic: some 90 percent of women who find out in prenatal testing that their baby will have Down syndrome choose abortion. As we sang, I couldn’t help but think of the extra joy Becky’s family would have missed if she’d never been born—the joy all of us would have missed.
Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
As I looked at Becky’s face, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sing, even if I managed to dredge up the tune. Not with a lump the size of a small turtle in my throat.
I closed my eyes, and a vision flashed through my mind—of God’s big hand holding the hand of a smiling seventh grade girl. She gives him a bouquet of hand-picked dandelions, and as he reaches out to take them, I notice that he has a tattoo on his hand. Right there on his palm is etched the name of his beloved child. Becky.
I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.