I wish it were easier to share all that has happened in the last few months without filling several pages of the internet. There is so much that God has been teaching me. Someday it will all leak out into a blog post about our lives. For now, I want to share the thoughts that have been building on my mind as we approached and passed the due date for our first child.
I wish I could express joyful excitement and anticipation about the arrival of our baby.
I love children. I am incredibly privileged to be given the gift of a child to carry, the fruit of my own womb and my husband's child. I know how many men and women desire that treasure and have not received it.
I am also painfully aware of the statement many wise parents have mentioned to us since we announced our expectation of becoming parents. I think the most accurate paraphrase was, "You can never be selfish again..."
But the truth is, I am selfish. I have been self-centered since the day I was born. Self is one of the chief idols in my life. What about yours?
One of the greatest challenges about the gift I received when I said, "I do," and promised my life to my husband was that I promised to cherish him above myself. My "self" did not surrender to that promise without a fight. In fact, it is a daily battle to let the Holy Spirit of God change me, transform my desires, and teach my "self" to submit or surrender to a better purpose and plan than what I think is best or desire for myself. I have never regretted the results, only felt the sting and pain of the challenge to practice denying my "self" in marriage.
In light of that, why would I be excited about expanding that challenge to include another person?
Can I confess how hard it is to wait for something you are uncertain will be wonderful?
No matter how many people promise me that I will experience this wonderful joy, it is an experience I have not yet personally enjoyed. I cannot place my own confidence in this expectation. Even the Bible promises this truth is universal. Do I believe that truth?
John 16:21 "It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world."
Wait, did that just mention anguish? Yet, the expectation is that anguish gives way to joy....
Another thought that has been on my mind the past few weeks.... It is so HARD to wait for and anticipate an event that you have NO IDEA when it will happen.
Honestly, I love my family and friends and the excitement they all have as they anticipate our child's birth. But, may I thank those that have not asked if the baby is born yet? Is is hurtful to express how much it does not comfort me to be reminded so often that my baby has not been born yet and I don't know when the baby will come? Trust me, I wish I did.
Part of my self-reliance and need for control (which I do not have) produces a strong desire to plan and execute life according to what I have determined will be best. Example: I would deem it best to have all the laundry washed, folded, and put away before I go into labor. How many times can you accomplish this in the space of a few weeks???? How many times can you try to catch up on dishes, only to make more dirty dishes before one day is over???? Seriously, is it impossible to be fully prepared for the arrival of this little person?
My current stress and conflict have reminded me of the teachings of Jesus about his return to earth. Have you read the parables Jesus taught about a bridegroom whose arrival is expectantly awaited but the hour is unknown? (Matthew 25) Jesus also used the illustration of servants whose master entrusts them with a task while he is away, and he returns at a time that they did not anticipate because it was unknown to them.
In each scenario, the arrival of this important person was expected, even anticipated with joy. Yet, no one knew when to expect the arrival of the person they anticipated. Some people were prepared and others were not prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom or master. Those who remained prepared through the long, unknown waiting period were rewarded with the opportunity to celebrate when the person arrived. Those who did not remain prepared were busy trying to catch up their preparations and missed out on the celebration. Some were even punished for their disobedience to the master's instructions to prepare for his return or their foolish expenditure of the time that had elapsed while the master was away.
Am I listening to the warning in my own words? How am I waiting for Jesus' return to earth? I know that I will rejoice in his return, but will my joy be mixed with sorrow that he finds me unprepared to welcome him? Will I be distracted with preparations I failed to make ahead of time and unable to truly enjoy the celebration of his arrival? I know these parables are illustrations of truth and not exact examples of what will happen. Still, I need to heed the warning.
Even in the anticipation of our baby's birth, one that seems to drag on repeatedly without resolution, I see that I must be vigilant to remain prepared. Otherwise, many cares will impede the joy and celebration that we could have when the baby does arrive. I know if the dishes don't get done that there will still be more to do after the baby comes. I know that laundry will only increase once this child is born. But, in the moment that my child is placed in my arms, will I wonder who is going to get those things done because I left them to the last moment? Will I regret the load I placed on my husband to catch up what I can no longer attend to (for the moment)?
More importantly, what tasks and preparations are needing my attention to be ready, at any moment, for the return of my Jesus? Am I making disciples like he commanded immediately before his departure to heaven? Am I being a witness for his gospel and telling those around me about his death and resurrection and the hope of eternal life? Am I using the gifts, talents, skills, privilege, wealth, and abilities he gave me to care for the broken and hurting world around me? Do I demonstrate the love and grace he has given me in how I choose to use my time and treasures or how I treat the people in my life?
How will Jesus find me when he returns to marry his bride? Will the bride be ready for the wedding or will she need "a few more moments" to look her best? Do I want to disappoint him that much?
"6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”