It is spring here on the farm. The big kids are camping with Grandma and Grandpa, the little girls are planting some flower seeds, Daddy is drilling soybeans and I am swinging in my porch swing watching oats grow in my garden spots.
Instead of starting seeds in March I was tending to this little sprout.
And I love him more than all the beans and taters in the world. Isn’t he just precious? He’s so sweet I could eat him with a spoon! Check out the chub on that cheek! With the youngest of the three older boys reaching double digits this summer it has been ten years since we had a baby boy. My laundry room is once again graced with blue blankies, puppy dog onesies and green froggy rompers.
Spring babies are so much fun. There’s just something right about rejoicing in a new human life as God awakens all of creation from its winter slumber. He calls to the trees, “Bud!” and to the perennials, “Bloom!” and to the animals, “Birth!” and each obeys the command of its Creator and the earth springs to life in jubilant song! My infant son, made in the likeness of God, possessing within his young lungs the very recent breath of Creator God, is like the cymbal crash of God’s 2016 Spring Symphony. And as the music crescendos I long to hear God proclaim, “It is good. And he is very good.”
Nathaniel was born on Good Friday. That fact was not lost on me as I labored to bring him into this world. My labors are a journey. There is a lighthearted stretch where Clint is able to walk with me, hand in hand, and share in the joy of what is to come. But soon we come to a bridge that Clint isn’t able to cross over with me. On the other side is a valley that I must go through alone. This valley used to terrify me. It’s dark. At times it is an overwhelming darkness; so dark that I can forget to breathe, forget I am still breathing. This all-consuming darkness is painfully silent. And I am alone. Sometimes I stop walking forward and try to find a place to hide in this dark valley. At other points I lie down and softly weep. In the past at times I have cried out, “I cannot go on. I will lose my soul here!” During three different deliveries I have run back to the bridge, terrified of the unknown.
But during one pregnancy, I determined to cross the valley. I felt God calling me to meet Him in that valley. When the time came to cross the bridge, I was still terrified; but when Clint let go of my hand another stronger Hand reached out for mine, and led me. It was still dark. There were still moments when I forgot to breathe and wanted to hide. But in spite of my weeping, I was not alone and I crossed the valley. The next baby when I came to that same valley I told myself, “You’ve been here before. Do not be afraid. You are not alone.” The walk through the valley was longer that time but I trusted the One who walked with me. We had traveled this road before and even though I could not see where we were going it somehow felt familiar. There was peace in the valley.
During Nathaniel’s valley, when the darkness was just beginning to fall and there was still time to run back to the bridge, I began to whisper the Names of the One who walked with me. “A Shade from the Heat, A Shelter from the Storm, A Stronghold in Times of Trouble, A Source of Strength.” Over and over again I said the Names as I walked headlong into the darkness, weak and trembling and yet full of strength and faith. I was not alone.
When Jesus was on the cross He too felt abandoned and He truly was. He cried out, “Father, why have You forsaken Me?” No one came and walked with Him through that valley. Holy Father completely turned away from His Son because He was filled with the sin of the world; my sin. Jesus walked through that literal valley of death so that I would never know the abandonment of Father God. Praise the Name of Jesus Christ I am never alone in this life!
The lyrics to a favorite song that I cherish say:
The darkest hour is just before dawn
The narrow way leads home
Lay down your soul at Jesus’ feet
The darkest hour is just before dawn
After that dark valley of transitional labor has been crossed, God is gracious to cause my body to rest and re-energize for a few moments. My mind comes back and I am able to talk to Clint and share the excitement that our baby is almost here. And then, like the first rays of sunshine, we welcome the dawn of a brand new life.
As I rejoice in our new baby this spring I thank Father not only for Good Friday but even more for Resurrection Sunday. The blooming and budding and birthing are all signs that death has been raised to life and there is eternal life for all who believe and repent.
It took Clint a few days to name our new little man, but when he announced the meaning, it was perfect: gift from God.
Thanks for reading,