Thursday, March 31, 2011

Birth Days

It seems my perfectionist and procrastinating personality have caused me quite a problem in posting my first blog on this six month old site.  Always waiting for the "right" time, the "right" way....and neither ever seem to arrive.  A commentary on Samuel Taylor Coleridge recently challenged me in this (sin) nature of mine: "Never did so great a mind produce so little...." (followed by a list of uncompleted tasks)..."He lost himself in visions of work to be done, that always remained to be done.  Coleridge had every poetic gift but one--the gift of sustained and concentrated effort.  In his head and in his mind he had all kinds of books, as he said himself, 'completed save for transcription.'  But the books were never composed outside Coleridge's mind."
Not that I have a great mind, all kinds of books to be written or great poetic gifts, but I do have a list of uncompleted tasks and I have composed several blogs in my mind..."completed save for transcription."  So I thought this "midnight hour" to be the opportune time to begin in the middle....instead of waiting for ample time to begin at the beginning.  Because today...(or actually yesterday now) a birth day...a new beginning. Notice that is not a compound word, as we are accustomed to using, because I am referring to a day of birth...that initial celebration of new life coming into the world....first breaths being taken.  The kind of birth day I'm talking about is not a physical one, however, but a spiritual one--referred to by Jesus in John 3: "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  ....You must be born again."
Births are a lot on my mind right now as we eagerly, and somewhat anxiously, await the arrival of our first grandchild any day now.  I have been invited to witness that event firsthand by being with our daughter and son-in-law in the delivery room when the time arrives.  And I was invited to be a part of the birth into new and everlasting life today as God so graciously allowed me to watch "the Spirit give birth to spirit."  Wow.  I pray I never lose the wonder and awe of witnessing one being "born again." 

I have walked back through those brief moments time and time again already and marveled at every detail that God orchestrated and anointed.  Perhaps because I have invested so much in our daughter's high risk pregnancy, I began to gain a new perspective on the "process" of salvation.  Much like a physical birth, there is a preparation time that occurs preceding our spiritual birth as well.  It happens for all of us, whether or not we are aware of it or acknowledge it.  Yes, when the time is right and the "forming" process complete, there is that single moment of rebirth, but there are moments, if not months, of spirit preparation before that event takes place.  Just as I have watched the changes in our daughter and unborn grand-daughter take place over the last eight months, I have watched for several months this middle-aged mother slowly being changed "from the inside out."   God has given me a front row seat to observe her heart's soil being prepared to receive the seed of the Gospel so it would take root and grow and bear fruit, (Luke 8).  It began with subtle changes in her personality and demeanor...a previously boisterous personality became more focused and subdued.  Still the fun-loving nature and easy-to-love person, yet a more serious side emerged.  The masks of protection began to fall as she became vulnerable to the tilling of her heart soil.  She, who had been invited and encouraged to attend GAP for a number of years, became a "never miss a Wednesday" member who also faithfully brought friends to join her in the study of God's Word each week.  She began to delve into the Bible on her own and experience a hunger to know more about God and His Word.  A very strong desire to obey Him preceded that transforming moment today.  After laying out the list of reasons that had previously convinced her of her salvation (i.e. go to church, study the Bible, try to live right, etc.), her spirit gave in to the Holy Spirit's work of conviction as she expressed, "I just feel like something is missing."  There it was.  That moment in the process of salvation that acknowledges our need for a Savior, a Redeemer, the One who is the Giver of abundant and eternal life, our Living Hope, the One who fills completely that void in all our hearts.  That moment that was the end of the preparation time and the beginning of the new birth!  And God invited me to be there. A new, fresh, pure, holy life breathed in eternal life for the very first time as "the Spirit gave birth to spirit." 
Almost nine years into this ministry, it is not the middle, nor the end, of the story....but still only the we continue to celebrate birth days.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"    
2 Corinthians 5:17