How to even begin this post. It has been just over a month since God called home to glory my nephew, War Rose Hodge. He was number eight to join the list of my nieces and nephews, which I cherish so dearly. Our family was looking forward to with eager anticipation the arrival of a precious new soul to the clan this October, but our Sovereign Lord had other plans. Plans that included his arrival but not in the way we had expected.
On September 20th our family gathered in Springdale, Utah to celebrate the union of marriage of my younger sister and her now husband. What a sweet time it was. I remember sitting with my older sister watching the new bride and groom hold each other in their arms as they danced across the floor, and she said “life really is simple. We live, we love, we die.” Little did we know that in that moment we were experiencing what it meant to live and love, but within less than 18 hours we would be experiencing the fullness of death and love, the death of her very own son.
We ended the evening full of joy. Joy celebrating marriage, joy seeing friends and family gather from afar, joy just being with one another. Full of joy we went to bed. Early in the morning I got a call from my brother-in-law and that could only mean one thing. Baby was on the way! Those who have had children know the mixed emotions that come as a new baby is about to arrive. But overlying the myriad of emotions is excitement. Why? Because John states it well “Whenever a woman is in labor she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a child has been born into the world” (John 16:21). Yes, more joy was imminent for our family, so we thought.
My older sister and her husband headed to the hospital while the rest of the family packed the bags and cleaned the venue before we ourselves eagerly looked forward to joining them at the hospital to meet the newest addition to the family. We would meet a beautiful baby boy that day, just not the way we had envisioned.
On September 21st at 9:52 in the morning our joy turned to sorrow. I was still at the venue with my twin sister watching my seven nieces and nephews as we waited for a ride to the hospital and a message came in from my brother-in-law “please be praying for us. The baby does not have a heartbeat and didn’t when we got here. Chloa is bleeding a lot now so going into a C section.” It was in that moment the joy in my soul disappeared and my heart sank. Tears began to fill my eyes, calls were made, and my twin and I began to pray as the children continued to play. We prayed for a miracle and our Lord answered that prayer in sparing my sister’s life while also calling her beloved son home to glory.
About an hour and a half later as the family sat outside the hospital doors another message came in. “Chloa is out and recovering still really weak but doing well.” “And baby?” I asked. “In heaven” was the reply.
As we sat outside the entrance of the women’s center many people came and went. Expecting mothers, new parents leaving with their newborn babies, and little ones frolicking along. Many of their faces were full of joy, but not ours. We all went from experiencing great joy at the celebration of the union of my younger sisters new marriage to great sorrow at the death of my nephew, but love. Love was present at each and grew a stronger family bond than we could have possibly imagined through what our Lord had ordained.
On September 21, 2023, at 5:36 pm our family walked the hospital corridors down to the very last room to enter a room that will forever be etched into our minds. We gathered around that hospital bed holding my dear older sister and her newest son, War Rose Hodge. I wish I could transport you to that room. It was a place no one would desire to be and yet as I reflect back it is a memory I never want to forget. I have never seen or experienced so much love and sorrow in one moment of time.
All eyes beheld our precious little War, all lips smothered his perfect little face in kisses, and all hands caressed his lifeless body from head to toe. As the tears trickled down our faces, we couldn’t help but look in awe and wonder at such a perfect little baby. Perfect in every way as he was fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. But one thing he lacked and that was the breath of life.
Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” God in His perfect wisdom and goodness withheld the breath of life from War. As I held my precious nephew in my arms the lifelessness in him was piercing. It was just a body, a perfect little lifeless body.
We came to find out that he passed in the womb because the placenta had completely detached from the uterine wall. Without the life-giving oxygen, nutrients, and support from his mother’s blood life quickly ceased to exist in him. Without his lifeline to his mother, he became lifeless. A great tragedy and yet a greater tragedy is true of many men that walk this earth even now.
Just as War became lifeless without his lifeline to his mother majority of the world is lifeless without The Lifeline. Ephesians 2:1 says “And you were dead in your transgressions and sins…” Without Christ you are dead, you are lifeless. War, though physically dead, was and is spiritually alive. He never tasted sin. He went straight to glory. He was blessed. So many are physically alive but spiritually dead, this is a worse tragedy than the loss of my nephew.
I pray if you are reading this and you are a true child of God you remember the life you have been given, stop living like you are dead. If you are reading this and not a child of God I pray you come to know and put your faith and trust in The Lifeline. It is Christ alone that gives life because He paid for your sins on the cross. Sin leads to death but faith in Christ leads to life.
In Ephesians Paul writes “And you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all also formerly conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:1-9).
But God! God is The Lifeline. He is rich in mercy, grace, kindness, love and so much more. Outside of Him we are lifeless, but in Him we have life. The death of my nephew has brought great sorrow to our family, but at the same time joy and hope because we know our God and we do not grieve without hope. John 16:22 says “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” In this scene Jesus was talking to his disciples and speaking of his death. They would have great sorrow, but they would see Him again and He would send a helper, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit dwells within the life of each believer and no sorrow of this world can quench the joy and comfort that comes through this union with our Lord.
The first question of the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” The answer: That I, with body and soul,[a] both in life and in death, am not my own,[b] but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ,[c] who, with His precious blood[d] has fully satisfied for all my sins,[e] and delivered me from all the power of the devil;[f] and so preserves me,[g] that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head;[h] yes, that all things must work together for my salvation.[i] Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,[j] and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.[k]
This is not just the comfort but the great promise and truth believers in Christ have. May the story of War and the image of his lifeless body be a warning to you. You are spiritually dead apart from Christ. May you turn from your sin and turn to The Lifeline this very day.
The more I come to know of God the more at peace I am with the sorrows of this world. We did not expect September 21st to go the way that it did, but our Lord’s ways are higher than ours. It was the will of the Father to call War home to glory. In this we can rejoice as Job said the Lord gives and He takes blessed be His name. War Rose Hodge is with His Lord, there is no better place to be than in His Savior’s arms.
Jesus loves me—this I know,
For the Bible tells me so:
Little ones to him belong,—
They are weak, but he is strong.
Jesus loves me—he who died
Heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let his little child come in.
Jesus loves me—loves me still,
Though I'm very weak and ill;
From his shining throne on high,
Comes to watch me where I lie.
Jesus loves me—he will stay
Close beside me all the way.
Then his little child will take
Up to heaven for his dear sake.
In heaven you are our beloved War Rose Hodge. What great joy it will be when God calls us home to glory to join you there with our loving Lord. Then we will behold you again but this time we will see you as you are now - full of life abundant and free. Free from the curse of sin. This is the day we long for, this is the life you now live to God be the Glory!
All my love to you my dear nephew War. Your Auntie Hannah so can’t wait to embrace you again one day. To see your beautiful eyes and glorified body full of life, oh what a glorious day it will be.
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
[a] 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. [b] Romans 14:7–9 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. [c] 1 Corinthians 3:23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. [d] 1 Peter 1:18–19 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. [e] 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. [f] 1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. Hebrews 2:14–15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. [g] John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. John 10:28–29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. [h] Matthew 10:30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Luke 21:18 But not a hair of your head will perish. [i] Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [j] 2 Corinthians 1:22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. Ephesians 1:13–14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [k] Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,