Sunday, February 26, 2017


"And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done." (Acts 21:14)

It may surprise some of you that despite the fact that I'm (for the most part), "socially conservative" and despite the fact that I'm a registered Republican, and a very committed Bible-believing Christian, I enjoy listening to many of the programs on Public Radio.  Yes, there's a very liberal bias on most of Public Radio International's broadcasts.  I'd caution any of my Christian conservative friends that it's just something you've got to keep in mind when you listen.  However, there are some amazingly interesting programs on Public Radio.  One that I enjoy is, This American Life.  Incidentally, their website is at:

This weekend's episode of This American Life is one of the most powerful that I've ever heard.  It was actually a re-run from 2008, but I'd never heard it the first time.  The episode's title is, Switched At Birth.  The show presented the true story of two women who were born at the same hospital in a small Wisconsin town in 1951 and who somehow got "switched", well, shortly after they were born.  There were two women who gave birth that day.  One was Mrs. Miller.  She was the wife of a pretty strict evangelical minister.  They already had several other kids.  The other was Mrs. McDonald.  She had a son but very much wanted a daughter and was delighted to give birth to a baby girl.

Shortly after Mrs. Miller got home, she was very uneasy.  The weight of the baby girl she took home was quite a bit different from what she'd been told the baby weighed at the hospital right after birth.  The figures weren't close- they were way off.  Mrs. Miller had a strong gut feeling that this was not her baby girl- that somehow, a terrible mistake was made at the hospital.  She told her minister husband who didn't take her concerns very seriously.  He finally said  (I assume in a tongue-in-cheek fashion), "Well, we brought this little girl home and we're going to keep her!"

The Millers were very serious and mostly strict and disciplined people.  The little girl who grew up as her daughter Martha was nothing like them.  She didn't look at all like them, and she was a very humorous and fun-loving child.   Across town at the McDonald home, little Sue didn't look a thing like the rest of her family, either.  The McDonalds were people who didn't take life too seriously, approaching life in a light-hearted manner.  Sue loved her family, but always felt more serious than the rest of them.

It's all a very long story about how the story of the switch finally came out into the open, but it took nineteen years!  Well, to be fair, Mrs. McDonald was the last to know.  She didn't find out the truth until the early 1990s!   Both Sue and Martha were interviewed extensively on the program as were Mrs. McDonald and Mrs. Miller.  You can imagine how this whole "baby switch" thing has rocked the lives of each member of these families!  Mrs. Miller was frankly a bit weird; she actually tried to change the name of her daughter once the whole thing was brought out into the open!

Mrs. McDonald was particularly bothered by the actions of the Rev. Miller.  She said there were several times in which he spoke to her at length begging her forgiveness for what happened.  What really upset her is that he would quote many Bible verses to her and ultimately he told her that the switching of the babies was, "God's will".  She was furious.  In fact, she stated that what was God's will is that Mrs. Miller insist that the hospital be told way back in 1951, even if it meant losing her husband and her marriage.

I must admit that as a guy who spent over twenty years as a pastor, I was very sympathetic with the Rev. Miller "quoting Bible verses" and apologizing.  That's where serious evangelical Christians go for help- we go to the Bible.  We find comfort in the Scriptures.  Mrs. Miller said Martha had brough a light-heartedness and sense of fun into their family that they probably desperately needed.  And, several of the Miller kids told the girl raised as Sue McDonald that she "lucked out" by being raised in the fun-loving McDonald home!

What was God's will in all of this?  In retrospect, it does seem like Mrs. Miller should have really "pitched a fit" about this early-on and gone to the hospital authorities, even if it meant causing serious trouble in her marriage.  It does seem like it was wrong for these two girls (who are age sixty-five today) to be raised in the wrong homes.  Or was God (strangely) "in" this scenario happening exactly as it did?

I graduated from Central Bible College in 1979.  As a Bible school kid I "had all the answers".  Almost all Bible school kids, frankly, "have all the answers".  As a sixty-two year old who pastored for over twenty years and who has experienced some disappointments and hard knocks in life, I'm not so sure how to figure this one out.

What do you think?  Was it God's will?


Pastors'Fellowship International said...

This one is quite so interesting.
However it is not much unlike the Bible story of the baby-switching in I Kings 3:16-28. God's involvement in the situation could not have been so obvious from the onset, just as this does not. But the last verse of that passage gave it all the reason:
"When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice."
Of course... administering "justice" is the direct opposite of administering "judgement" that you observe in the prior chapter 2 of the book of I Kings. The nation of Israel needed to know that there must always be two sides to possessing your possession: as it is nationally, so also on individual levels - the BALANCING ART. Sustaining Solomon's reign took a rather hard and harsh fight and if the baby-switching saga had not occurred, perhaps, all Israel would have thought Solomon a godless despot - or so I see it.
And for your story [rather, This-American-Life's story]; I have a hunch that the preacher Miller needed to not be so presumptuous, rather to learn the lesson that humans are fallible - even with all the Bible knowledge we claim to have. What with the counsel from Proverbs 3:5-7? What with the need to listen to our spouses? What with the admonition to stay prayerful - always?

And for both Mrs. Miller and Mrs. McDonald, I just wonder where the "mothers-in-Israel" are? Mothers who will refuse their children from being tampered with by the Herods in our hospitals. Mothers who will be prepared to suffer the shame of being called names like the prostitutes in King Solomon's baby-switching story.
While I thank God that the daughters finally found their roots, it would have been more comforting if the mothers had not played Rachel who would weep for the killing [in this case, the switching] of her children! [Jeremiah 31:15].

Was this God's perfect will for the babies to be switched? I honestly don't know and will not pretend to have all the answers to why it must happen in the first place.

One thing I do know though is that our Omniscience GOD knows about it from the very beginning of the switch to the very time of discovery and beyond. Scary as it may sound, He may even have orchestrated or at the very least allowed it. After all, He knows the perpetrators - by their faces, their hearts - with the intents and by their names.
Perhaps it was all a human error that simply needed someone to get back to the midwives and point it out?

Bob Baril said...

Pastors'Fellowship International posted a GREAT comment! This is NOT an "easy" situation, and indeed, it DOES hearken to the story in I Kings 3. I deliberately did not share my own opinion, because it would be just that. This is not a matter I've bathed in prayer. But I was deeply moved by the radio program- my soul was stirred, and I felt I needed to shared it. THANK YOU, Pastors'Fellowship International for those words of wisdom!