[From the archives]
‘I feel so sorry for all the other moms here,’ I whispered to my husband from my bed in the maternity ward. I’d given birth to our oldest son via C-section the day before.
‘Why?’ he asked.
‘Their babies are all so ugly. Ours is the only beautiful one.’
I was completely serious. I believed it with all my heart. Our son was – clearly! – exquisite and far superior to the host of garden variety newborns on display in their plastic cribs in the nursery.
I have an eleven-year distance now, from that event. I guess I can grudgingly admit that some of those other babies might have been slightly pretty.
But it still startles me when I think back to the immediate and unswerving love I felt for my boy. The ownership. The absolute favour. The lengths I knew instinctively I’d go to if ever he was in danger.
The intriguing thing is, our 3.1kg tiny human had done nothing to earn or deserve the love. And once he had the love, I didn’t have to give him instructions on how to keep the love.
He didn’t exit the womb with an educational investment fund. His first cry wasn’t, ‘I promise to unpack the dishwasher!’ He didn’t bring anything to the table. He couldn’t even reach the table.
He just came.
He came naked and needing a wash.
And we just loved him.
His entry into life came at a cost. He’d caused me pain. And greater pain was coming because in those first days we didn’t yet know that he was blind and that the gradient of our lives was about to get seriously steep.
But we weren’t scared off by our son’s imperfections. They only made us lean closer to provide and protect. We would have done anything – sacrificed anything – to restore his sight.
The same day – the day I felt desperately sorry for mothers of ugly babies the world over – I also said to my husband –
‘I want to do it all again! I want another one!’
Another one came, two and half years later, and the experience was equally magnificent and love-infused.
It seems our quiver is full (Psalm 127:5) but there’s a part of me that could keep on having babies. Keep on bringing life into the world. Again and again and again. And I think that might be something of God’s image in us: because He keeps on bringing new life into the world. Again and again and again.
All we have to do is come.
And we come to Him just as naked as our babies. Just as dirty. Mostly, we don’t even want a Saviour. We don’t even know we need a Saviour. And He just loves us and washes us and feeds us and wraps us and holds us.
The wonder of salvation is that we can stay in His arms forever. We don’t ever have to move out of His arms and Do Stuff to keep His love or attention. And His arms are there for us any time we need to crawl back into them to hide, rest, or remember who we are.
But love and wash and feed and wrap and hold a baby long enough – and he starts to grow. Before long he’s clambering out of your lap to explore the world. He wants to get busy living.
Same-same with us.
Spend enough time in God’s presence and you won’t be able to help yourself. You’ll want to get up and at ‘em. You’ll want to do the good works prepared beforehand for you to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). You don’t have to. You’ll just want to.
And like it was for us with our son, Jesus isn’t scared off by our imperfections. He’ll do anything – sacrifice anything – to restore our spiritual sight. Actually, He’s already done all the doing in sacrificing Himself.
Earth-side, I don’t know that we ever taste all the flavours of God’s unblinking undying unending affection for us. But some days the magic of my ordinary seems like a heavenly hors d’oeuvre. Like, when I think I can’t possibly love my boys more than I do but then I find their clothes at the back door and they’re outside with the garden hose and so much mud and happiness.
Naked and dirty.
And deeply beloved.
. . .
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