Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lent Day 21 - No one will take away the joy

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." - Jesus (John 16:21-22)

I remember each detail so clearly. Father's Day, June 2o 1982, 2:45 in the afternoon, after what had been a very, very long night and morning.

What a roller-coaster of feelings that day was! Rebekah and I were both exhausted and spent, physically and emotionally. And, then, when we thought that we had nothing left, a baby was born! Andrew Kemp Maul was as tired as we were, and visibly upset at being disturbed so rudely. But he settled easily into his mother's arms - and then mine, more than ready to get a little bit of rest.

And there we all were, just a minute into his new life; a small family huddled together in the hospital room united and bound in the fabric of joy. We knew that every minute of pain and anguish was just a prologue to the unimagined gladness that was instantly ours.

Jesus uses this exact image, the picture of birth, to prepare his friends for what was about to come.
  • "You are about to experience real pain," he explains, "as well as genuine grief. You are going to weep and mourn while the world around you rejoices. But just imagine how difficult it is to give birth. Like new parents throughout time, the anguish that you feel will be nothing compared to the amazing joy of new life.
  • "I am new life. I am the way, the truth and the life. You will discover that the miracle of birth is not limited to the moment a child comes into this world. And it is going to be your joy - your very own - no one will be able to take it away."
Hold that moment, if you will. Recapture the instant you first held a newborn child in your arms - maybe your own. Consider your Christian experience and think back to when you first understood the message of Jesus as being uniquely for you. Jesus wants us to take hold of that wonder now; he wants us to hold his love and the promise of his grace with such tenderness and such emotional clarity.

The wonder of children, new-born babies especially, is in the magical ability they have to reconnect all of us with our own deep and vulnerable places. Are we willing to invite God into those places today?

PRAYER: We know that in you our joy is made complete, God. Grant us the courage to become vulnerable in your presence so we can invite you into the deep places. Amen.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

Naomi said...

And then... two years, two months, and two days later... along came your gift of joy! ME!! YAYYY!!!!!!

Nice article Daddy! Because of Andrew it's really hard to top a father's day gift because Andrew says "THAT'S the day I was BORN!!" Thanks alot... pptthhbbbbbbb