Maher family

Matthew, Sarah and Willow Joy.

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Where should I begin? Well, I guess I’ll start at the beginning where none of this was part of my own vision. Not that I didn’t want what I now have, but I couldn’t see it from where I once was. Please allow me to explain.

In the blink of an eye, my world not only changed, but my world was completely rearranged. My reckless decision in 2009 obviously caused me to lose everything I possessed from my reputation to my occupation.

I was thrust into a prison that I built with my own decisions. Yet, as many of you know, this tragedy was swallowed up by mercy. And forgiveness became my liberty, where 55 months felt like 55 days because of the peace of God which imprisoned me (Philippians 4:6-7).

Now that the stage is set - let’s fast forward to my today - there are so many blessings that have been bestowed upon my life that I just couldn’t see from prison. Countless. But most life-changing of all was the glory of a beautiful wife, the grace of a fulfilling ministry, and now, the most mind confounding gift, which was May 10, when our precious daughter, Willow Joy, entered the world two days shy of Mother’s Day, which will always be etched in my mind as how this day truly belongs to the mother.

I am actually speechless to what I witnessed - from labor to delivery. The beauty and boldness of how God designed a baby to enter the world is simply beyond language.

It’s more breathtaking than Niagara Falls and its intensity, or the Grand Canyon and its scenery. It’s more awesome than the Seven Wonders of the World and even Earth’s greatest mysteries.

And that’s why we call it a miracle. Only a creator could divinely design such a marvelous process and experience.

It’s a total understatement to say how much more I now respect, love and adore my beautiful wife. Not that my love was hinged upon a child, but seeing her labor through the pain that ravaged her body hours upon hours is worthy of a fresh respect and a holy pause.

But interestingly, as soon as Willow entered the world, my wife immediately forgot about her own pain and focused on the joy set before her. And witnessing that gives rise to a humbling new meaning for Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross...”

The Bible says Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame for the joy that was set before Him. In other words, the joy of salvation and life was so magnetic, that all of the pain and agony remained peripheral compared to what was eternal.

Throughout the childbirth experience, I kept thinking nobody would willingly subject themselves to this type of pain. Yet, Sarah - and all the mother’s in the world - do just that. And why? Because there is joy eventually coming. Personally in our lives, her name is Willow Joy.

And ever since she entered the world, Sarah and I have not been able to stop fixating our eyes upon her. She entered the world and instantly became our world. It just magnifies that the love we have for our Willow completely pales in comparison to the love that God has for us and the experience He went through to redeem us.

I can confidently say my heart has been humbled beyond measure - yet again. And even though I have not had the time to process these past few days, I am still left speechless from this experience. I am left in total awe and wonder over what I see with my eyes: A wife that exemplified self-sacrificial love and a daughter that personifies the evidence of God’s mercy upon my life.

As I fix my eyes upon Willow, I see Jesus, my Savior, even more clearly.

ED. NOTE: Maher is the teaching pastor at Coastal Christian Ocean City and is president of Soldiers For Faith Ministries. Social media and website: @TruthOverTrend

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