My wife and I just welcomed our first child into the world a couple of weeks ago. She wasn’t due to be born until RAGBRAI Day (July 24) but apparently decided she wanted to make an early appearance. As I sit here writing this, it is early in the morning and she’s asleep in her little sleeper next to me in the living room as we let mommy get some more sleep.
The gift of life that comes with a new baby is something that is truly miraculous. From that first moment that you discover that a baby is on the way, through the growing, the first time you hear the heartbeat, ultrasounds, and ultimately the delivery, it is an incredible process.
It’s also a terrifying process. Throughout the pregnancy I worried about whether baby and mom would be healthy and well. At the delivery we waited for that first cry to tell us that she was breathing ok. Now that we’ve been home a couple weeks we find ourselves worrying about all sorts of things. Is she eating enough? Is she still breathing in the middle of the night when we’re startled awake for no apparent reason? Is she growing like she’s supposed to be? Are we ever going to sleep through the night again?
If I had a dollar for every person who told me before she was born that “Having a baby will change your life” I probably could have made a pretty good dent in her college fund. But it is true, things change, life changes when a baby is born.
Your time changes, your sleep schedule changes, your priorities change, your worries change, and your house changes. That last one might seem like a weird one, but I add it in there because it is true – your house changes because you start to accumulate all sorts of baby stuff. Between the things that we’ve purchased and the gifts that have so generously been given to us by friends and family, our now has many new things in it that didn't exist just a few months ago.
As I think about all of these presents it is a little bit funny to me how important all of these things are for a brief moment in her life, and yet how quickly they all become unnecessary or unusable. She’s already starting to be close to growing out of some of the clothes that she has. Someday she will be too big for the rocking seat and bathtub that she has and they’ll all just end up in storage or at a garage sale.
This got me thinking about how temporary our stuff is and how quickly the gifts that we give pass away. It also got me thinking about how I, as a father, have the opportunity to give my daughter the single greatest gift that she can ever receive and the only gift she won’t outgrow, that will never break, and will not get rusty or worn out.
I have the privilege of sharing God’s Word with her. Telling her about the mighty things that God has done. About how he created the world with the power of his spoken word. How he delivered his people from slavery in Egypt and protected them even when they ignored and disobeyed him. I get to tell her about how there is sin in the world and it causes terrible things to happen, but how God loves his creation so much that he wasn’t content to just sit back and watch the world self-destruct so he made a promise that he was going to restore it.
I get to tell her about how God kept this promise by sending his son Jesus into the world. We’ll talk about how Jesus lived a perfect life, he taught about God’s kingdom, he showed love and compassion to those in need, he healed the sick, he called sinners to repentance, and he forgave peoples’ sins. I get to tell her about how he showed the ultimate act of love by taking the punishment that we all deserved and dying on the cross once and for all. I’ll get to tell her about how he didn’t stay dead, but how he rose from the dead on that first Easter Sunday morning. I’ll get to tell her that because he is alive we will rise too and live in the restored creation with God for eternity.
I’ll tell her all of these things because that’s what God commands parents to do. Deuteronomy 11 says, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
I also do it because I know that God’s Word is powerful, and through it he creates saving faith. I trust that God will work through his Word to grow that faith in our daughter. Her journey of faith started last week when she was washed in the waters of Holy Baptism. God adopted her as his own and marked her with His name – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Her mother and I have the privilege of ensuring that she continues to grow in the faith.
As Christians, this is a responsibility that we share together. No matter whether you have children or not, you have the responsibility to share the Good News about Jesus with the people in your life. God’s Word is powerful and will work in the lives of the people with whom you share it. It is a Word of hope, restoration, and forgiveness for the whole world and I hope you’ll join with me in sharing it.
My name is Tom. I'm fascinated by the ways that people, ideas, current events and theology interact with each other.