Many of you read or heard the miraculous story of Jayden Woodson, the little baby that God literally raised from the dead. In 24 hours time, he went from being declared deceased by the doctors and scheduled for organ donation; to opening his eyes, responding to voices, smiling, grasping his mother’s finger, and emphasizing to everyone that he was still there. He was alive!
Personally, I had never witnessed something so amazing before in my entire life. When he was six months old, I had seen little Jayden on the afternoon the day prior to him being declared deceased, lying virtually lifeless in his hospital bed where machineshummed a steady rhythm breathing life into him. He didn’t respond when we touched him or talked to him. When I prayed over him as was my habit before I left, I saw the nurse hidden in the corner of the room with tears streaming down her face and knew that things must be dire. Therefore, to be greeted two days later with his eyes searching for the sound of my voice and a big smile as soon as he heard his Mommy speak, I was in total awe of God’s amazing healing, glory, and might.
All of those blessed to be in Jayden’s life had rejoiced in each small victory and miraculous moment as he defied every prediction of the doctors. This baby who because of hydrocephaly wasn’t expected to live a day, lived a week, then a month, then six months, then eight. We cheered as he opened his eyes, cried for the first time, responded to touch, grasped things, swallowed and sucked, lifted his head, responded to sounds, followed with his eyes, raised his head, and smiled–oh, what a smile! All of these accomplishments were things that he was never supposed to do and yet he did them. Science was limited in it’s predictions, but God’s plans for Jayden were limitless. The story of this precious baby spread around our community like wildfire. He had a whole network of people that had never even met him praying for him and asking for the latest updates on how he was doing.
Throughout all this, another change was happening. Caring for a child with special needs, especially one who is often in the hospital is extremely difficult. At first, the faith of Jayden’s mom, Erica, was shaken. She was hurting and questioning why she was going through this especially after having lost a pregnancy at 6 months just a few years prior. However, God had big plans for Erica too. He put people in her life whose words spoke to her and she drew closer to the Lord acknowledging His presence in her life and the life of Jayden.
In truth, her whole family and anyone who witnessed Jayden’s life, could not deny the amazing work that God was doing. Each day that he lived was a victory, each accomplishment a celebration, and going from death to life–that was an undeniable miracle, straight from the Lord.
Sadly, at eight months old, baby Jayden passed away while clutched in the arms of his heartbroken mother and was placed in the hands of his Heavenly Father. I was honored to be asked to share in a eulogy the amazing story of Jayden’s life at the funeral and in part what I am writing here is what I shared.
After the miracle of Jayden being raised from the dead, our friend Juli said somewhat jokingly, “I think I am going to start calling him ‘Baby Lazarus’.” This stuck with me as did several parallels from the story of Lazarus. The story of Lazarus can be found in John 11, but it is one that most children learn about in Sunday school. To summarize, Jesus’ very good friend, Lazarus, who is the brother of Mary and Martha falls sick and dies. Jesus knows that Lazarus is dead, but he isn’t able to go visit his friends until Lazarus has been in the grave four whole days. This is the part of the story where every Sunday School child envisions Lazarus as a mummy, because Jesus tells Lazarus to get up out of his grave and he raises him up from the dead, still wrapped in the coverings of his burial shroud.
Here is the thing about this story: once Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, he doesn’t get to live life on earth forever. Eventually Lazarus does die permanently on earth and is buried in the tomb once again, so what was the point of that miracle? The Bible explains to us In John 11:4″…It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Lazarus’ sickness, his death, Christ raising him from the dead, it was all to bring glory to God. In the same way, little Jayden’s life was lived as a testament to God’s love and to bring glory to the Lord.
It might leave you wondering, why would God raise someone from the dead just to have them eventually die again? Of course, that is the painful part that we are all faced with as we grieve over the loss of our tiny, yet chunkin’ little buddy, Jayden. Like Lazarus, when Jayden faced his final death on this earth, he had something far more wonderful awaiting him in eternal life in Heaven then what could be offered here. The miracles in Jayden’s life were clear evidence of God’s amazing glory. Even in death, the witness of his life remain to be told and retold as he lives in eternity with his Heavenly Father. As Jesus assured Martha, Lazarus’ sister, so we are also assured by his words in John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
In answer to that question, “Do you believe this?”, together Jayden’s family answered “Yes.” They trusted in the promises of the Lord and knew that their precious baby was already in Paradise. As evidence of this, they wore white to the funeral–not a color of mourning, but a color of the purity of the heart of little Jayden and of celebration of his new life in Heaven. Jayden’s Father spoke the words of Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Jayden is no longer here on earth, but he is living eternally in a new body with no pain and that alone is cause for celebration. Like Jayden’s family, we all are given a choice, do we choose to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and live eternally in Heaven or do we choose to ignore all the miracles that we have seen and heard and write them off as chance or coincidence?
Even in all the sadness and heartbreak, it is impossible to witness Jayden’s life without proclaiming the love and faithfulness of the Lord. Each smile, each coo, each cry, they were precious gifts from the Lord given to Jayden to share and be savored by all. His life, little as it may have been, has left a large impact. For his family, that impact is everlasting. Those that give their lives over to the Lord will one day get to see Jayden in Heaven eternally. Precious Jayden’s story continues on with each person that shares it and tells of the amazing miracles that have taken place. That is Jayden’s legacy. What will your legacy be? Will you choose to believe?