Now, does this look like a baby that belongs in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit? Everyone is asking (and even the nurses are wondering) when the boy is coming home. Jackman looks good, he's happy, and healthy. So what's the hold up?
Well, there are reasons he is still there. He's closer than ever to coming home, but not quite ready.
One reason he is still there is that he may be having another surgery soon. It's called a fundoplication. Everyone there calls it a fundo, which sounds like most fun-est surgery you can get. In a nutshell, it helps close off the esophagus from the stomach to prevent reflux. As of right now, he still can't keep any milk in his stomach, so it is pumped through the tube in his stomach, straight into his intestine. He's completely off the intravenous diet now, which is good. He just gets a steady, healthy, flow of milk pumped in 'round the clock.
That's kind of the other thing. Bottle feeding. He's still not working on it quite yet because of the whole reflux problem (he throws up everything). He has had a bottle a couple of times now, but from what we've been told, he didn't even pretend to like it.... he hated it.
So here's the deal. Jackman is a baby, and babies are supposed to have milk and like it. Babies are also supposed to be at home with their parents, and free of monitors, leads, IV's, PICC lines, g-tubes, j-tubes, oximeters, replogles, and ID bracelets. So far, this is the only life Jackman has known, and by all appearances, he is just as happy and content as he can be. I mean seriously... just look at the pictures.
He has no idea that a much better quality of life is in store for him. He doesn't understand that the completely uncomfortable and foreign experience of taking milk from a bottle is the door to that better quality of life. Even though that bottle of milk to him seems unnecessary, it is the key to being free of all the tubes and hoses, and a whole new life he can't even imagine. So even though he thinks nothing of it now, and feels fine and dandy without it, drinking that milk will be the beginning of a brand new life for him... and he'll soon discover that he loves it. We just wish he would taste and see that milk is good.
It's almost funny to me the way a verse will sometimes just "coincidentally" pop into my head... kind of like this one: Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8.
No doubt, God uses parallels in everyday life to demonstrate the reality of the spiritual life. I remember being just like Jackman is now... I didn't know any better. I knew what seemed to make me happy, and what seemed to give purpose and fulfillment to my life. I thought I was totally free of any restraints. I was certain that my never-ending search for fun was actually... fun.
It's scary to look back on it now and realize that what I was absolutely convinced was the good life was in reality just the opposite. It finally caught up with me. I literally got exhausted living that way. Trying to have fun felt more like working overtime, and the happiness of one day had to be replaced the next. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." That's what I did. I remember telling Him "I don't want what you are offering me, but I really wish I did". That was the beginning of the new life that I could have never imagined before.
Jackman will eventually get tired of that pacifier. There is a reason it is called a pacifier and not a satisfier. At some point, he is going to realize he wants something more, and that the pacifier is more work than reward. One day, Jackman will taste and see that the milk is good, and soon after he will be completely free of all the tubes and cords and leads that are holding him back. Naturally, he's going to bump into a coffee table or two. But it will be at our house, or someone else's house, because they don't have coffee tables to bump into in the NICU. Likewise, I have run into some tough times along the way, but the truth is that there has been more joy in the worst of times now than there was in the best of times back then.
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-4