(pic: Emily with her Grandma [my mom])
Seventeen years ago today we had a baby girl. We immediately named her Emily and were tickled pink it was a girl. She came unlike most babies, a dramatic entry she was meant to make.
Birthing stories abound among women. If you’re sporting XX chromosomes and been around awhile, you’ve heard the tales: 48 hour labor; breech delivery; bathtub birthing; snowstorm baby. Each of us has our own birthing story, just because we were born.
Emily’s birthing danced closely with death–primarily my death. Preeclampsia came and two days of pitocin inducement rendered resultless. C-section scheduled, then rescheduled for immediate delivery (she was born at 12:57am). I was gravely ill and after much medical debate (“she may aspirate and die on the operating table”) they opened me up and took her out. Only two weeks early, she was a full sized baby (7lbs 13 oz) and a beautiful one at that! While they sewed me up, she was wrapped in a blanket and brought to me for viewing. I got to look into those beautiful blue eyes and say “Welcome Emily! I love you!” My heart and eyes swell at the memory…
Thankfully this birthing story has a happy ending. She now celebrates #17. Not all do, and many, many can retell birthing stories of when death had the final say. So much can go wrong when birthing is underway. Complications leading to death of the infant or the mother abound–until our final day, we may never be so close to death than when we are being born.
Can the same be said for spiritual birth? Are we never so close to spiritual death than when we are being spiritually born? Is the battle for our soul never so fierce than when we’re on the brink of breaking through into Light? Does Satan pull out the stops when he sees us ready to enter by the narrow gate? (cf: Matthew 7:13) Maybe his presence is the reason why the gate is narrow, without him there would be no resistance, no struggle.
Spiritual mothers and fathers often accompany our birthing, they often have much to do with our desire to enter eternal life. Unlike physical birthing, they cannot birth us or, by association, claim our salvation. They can only act as guides and intercessors…oftentimes they serve primarily as a pointer to where the gate is. Nothing they can do or say will unite us with Christ, that decision is ours and ours alone to make. Unlike in utero infants whose time has come, we choose our own spiritual birthing, we choose to enter new Life.
Scary? Yes. Fraught with uncertainty? Indubitably. Worth it? Always.
If spiritual death bares its teeth as we enter new Life, we must remember Christ defeated death in all its forms. Calling on Him in the midst of the birthing puts the great Physician and death conqueror right in the midst of it. At His disposal are armies of angels ready for battle. At His disposal are love, power and wisdom which open the way for our entry. When we call on Him as Savior and Friend, He reaches out from the other side, grabs ahold of us and pulls. If we choose to stay ‘in it’, if we choose to stay surrendered, He pulls us through it. We may struggle, but then struggle strengthens our faith muscles. Doubt and temptation have their place, God doesn’t allow them for our torment…they’re around to help us learn to rely on Him, they’re around to help us learn to walk by faith, to help us learn how to do life when the gate is behind us, to live and thrive in His Kingdom.
On this day of Emily’s birthing, I pray you consider your own birthing–birthing of the spiritual sort. Join the ranks of those who beckon from the other side of that gate. Call on Jesus as your Savior, accept His forgiveness, hold out your hands and ask Him to grab you and pull. We’re all here cheering you on, we’re all here to support you, pray for you and welcome you. Oh, and if you do, Happy Birthday!!