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Sermon 12/19/04
Ductus Arteriosus -
Psalm 139:13


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Ductus Arteriosus

You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13)

I’ve been a “reader” almost all my life and am blessed with books.  Sometime after my friend of thirty years, Pastor John Anthony, went to be with the Lord, his widow, Frances, called and gave me essentially his whole library.  Recently our dear friend, Mary Thomas, passed on, and her nephew, Chuck, gave me HER library.  I have so many books I don’t know what to do with them all, except – I’ve been reading them!

One of them is called, “Soul Survivor, How My Faith Survived the Church,” by an author named Philip Yancey.  It’s essentially a sketch of the author’s own struggle, interwoven with biographies of key people who helped bring him out of anger to find peace with God.

The book includes a biographical examination of the life of Dr. Paul Brand, a medical doctor who was an amazing help to lepers in many countries.  He gave his life to those who previously had been shunned by the world, restoring the use of their hands through innovative surgery.  He also devised an intriguing technique that saved their eyesight.  He and his wife, Margaret, learned to tunnel a muscle normally used for chewing up under the cheek and attach it to the upper eyelid.  By chewing gum all day long, their patients simultaneously moved their eyelids up and down, lubricating the eyes and averting the blindness that came simply because they had lost the ability to blink!

The author, Mr. Yancey, had lots of complaints about God, and they surfaced in his talks with Dr. Brand, who answered with God’s miracle – the human body.  At one point, the doctor ended a discussion about the human hand with a quote from Isaac Newton: “In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”

I was especially taken by Dr. Brand’s discussion about the ductus arteriosus which is a “bypass vessel,” normally routing blood directly to a fetus’s extremities, instead of to the lungs.  “At the moment of birth,” Dr. Brand was saying, “suddenly all blood must pass through the lungs to receive oxygen because now the baby is breathing air. In a flash, a flap descends like a curtain, deflecting the blood flow, and a muscle constricts the ductus arteriosus. After performing that one act, the muscle gradually dissolves and gets absorbed by the rest of the body.”  Dr. Brand concluded, “Without this split-second adjustment, the baby could never survive outside the womb.”  Actually, there are times when the process DOESN’T happen like it should, causing problems for the baby.

But birth IS a miracle!  Dr. Brand’s observation is very intriguing evidence that GOD created us all, because a blind, evolutionary process that led gradually or suddenly to the development of mankind does not explain the amazing ductus arteriosus.  We are drawn instead to agree with David’s statement of praise to God: “You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

You may recall a previous sermon in which I spoke about my personal journey toward accepting the Virgin Birth.  When I was in Bible College, years ago, I discovered to my surprise that I did not believe in the Virgin Birth of our Lord.  No matter how much I tried, I just could not believe.  It was then that the Lord nudged me to choose the Virgin Birth as the subject of a term paper, and He used the research to heal my unbelief.

The Virgin Birth IS a miracle!  From Dr. Brand’s comments to Mr. Yancy, we know that BIRTH is a miracle, but in the case of Y’shua (Jesus), it is carried a step further.  God carefully designed the human body with the intention that a monogamous relationship between a husband and wife would be the vehicle for the entry of human beings into this world.  He allowed thousands of years to pass so that we would become accustomed to His plan, and then He deliberately went against His own design, so that all history would understand in the birth of His Son, that God came to live among us.

The reason that we as people have not believed in the miraculous birth of the Son of God is no different than my problem while in college: as a race, we are unbelievers!  We don’t see the miracles all around us and we don’t believe the eye witness testimony of those who saw the miracles of Jesus Christ because we don’t WANT to see.  Many hope that God is so far off that He just doesn’t know what’s going on with the world - a God who is instead near and has a plan for you might indeed want something from you.

God IS up close and personal.  He KNOWS the troubles you are going through right now.  He has allowed them to continue for your good – He will use the circumstances of your life to build character.  And the great bonus is this: He is allowing your life to be just as it is so that you will be drawn to reach out and TRUST in the Lord.  He has MORE for you than just your personal comfort.  He has in mind your ETERNAL security.

The birth of any baby is a miracle, for that child is designed by God and is precious In His sight.  YOU are precious in His sight.  He placed miracles into the human body, like the thumb, the eye and the ductus arteriosus so that you might know He is real.  He gave the Son of God, Jesus Christ, into this world, as a miracle, so you might know He loves you.

Have you been hurt by the visible church?  Mr. Yancy had been deeply hurt, and He, as so many others do, blamed his pain on God.  When he asked Dr. Brand the question, “Where is God when it hurts?” he learned that part of the answer is found in a more accurate question: “Where is the church when it hurts?”  Our concern with God is really with people.

God is doing a tender, loving work in your life which He expects you to eventually understand.  Mr. Yancy quoted the Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel: The question,“ Why does the God of justice and compassion permit evil to persist? is bound up with the problem of how man should aid God so that his justice and compassion prevail.

The Lord is doing a powerful work in you.  His aim is not so much that you will be pleased with that work, though He would like that.  His chief goal is that you will give up your anger and FINALLY TRUST Him implicitly, giving your heart and life to His purposes in the lives of others in their need.  You will never have lasting happiness any other way.

Lord, You “created my inmost being; (and) knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Thank You… Thank You for the miracle of Your Son.  I trust in Him now.  In Jesus Name. Amen.


Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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