What can you learn from a six-week old baby? I would have never thought about this question until I met Aubrey Joy Oberlin. I met her for the first time a bit over two years ago. when I heard about her plight. She was born with a genetic disease called Junctional EB (Epidermolysis bullosa). This disease was painful as it affected all parts of her body. Her parents, family and friends did a great job of loving her and taking care of her for her six short weeks of life. Aubrey’s life on this earth ended on November 17, 2010. However, she is far from being forgotten.
1. The first lesson that I learned from Aubrey is contentment. When I visited Aubrey, she always had her eyes opened. I knew she had trouble breathing and she was in pain, but in all my visits I never detected a complaining or angry spirit. Her eyes were saying: “Could you please help me. I don’t feel well.” Her eyes convicted me of how easily I complain when things don’t go my way. Though she didn’t say it with words, her eyes showed me a form of contentment that I need to experience more often in my life. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)
2. A second lesson that I learned from Aubrey is my need of dependence upon God. “I just want to hold her one last time. Aubrey loves to be held!” As I heard these words from Aubrey’s grandma the day of Aubrey’s entrance into God presence, I couldn’t help but feel sorrow and compassion for a dear family who would never again be able to hold their beloved daughter in their arms. It also brought to remembrance a verse in the Bible that has brought comfort to many people: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
Aubrey’s loved ones had a great desire to hold her in their arms and show their great love for her. Likewise, Our Heavenly Father loves us and longs to keep us close unto Himself. His arms are all-powerful arms, yet His arms are also tender. His arms bring great comfort and protection through whatever trials and pains that we face. His arms will never tire in holding us.
Aubrey did love to be held in the arms of those who loved her. She felt the love and comfort from those loving arms. As I thought about this, I realized that at times I haven’t longed to be held by Our Heavenly Father. I choose to go my own way. Yes, His arms are reaching out for me, yet I often resist those loving arms. May I learn to rest assured in the arms of Our Loving Heavenly Father, even as Aubrey rested so comfortably in the arms of those who love her.
3. A third lesson that I learned from Aubrey is priority. Being with Aubrey during her last day on earth was very difficult. She would labor to breathe. This went on throughout the day until finally later in the evening her heart stopped beating. Aubrey showed me that truly I need to remember to place the things of God first in my life. Life is brief. Every day is a gift from God. Will I live each day for God’s purpose and His Glory? “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
4. A fourth lesson that I learned from Aubrey is gratefulness for God’s salvation. As I would speak to Aubrey’s loved ones, I was glad that I could share Bible verses about Christ’s love for the world and how he died on the cross for our sins. Aubrey never had an opportunity to believe (because of her age), but the Bible does make it clear that she is present with the Lord. David expected to see his baby in heaven. “Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12: 21-23)
Two years ago, we said goodbye to Aubrey. She is now in God’s presence. I can’t always understand the ways of God, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to get to know Aubrey. She was an excellent teacher while she was with us!