Archive for April, 2011

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Kaeden’s tears…

April 16, 2011

Babies cry. A lot. When they are newborns the crying is mainly instinctual. I think. It won’t take long for that to change. More tears will come for reasons other than cold, wetness or hunger.

If you could transfigure the sorrows of this world into tears we might all be swept away by the flood. Kaeden will have his share in it. He will experience heart break, pain, stress, turmoil, and existential anguish. Sooner or later uncertainty and spiritual barrenness will come upon him like a flash flood of emotions and he will struggle to keep his head above water. My hugs won’t always be enough.

I know this. His mother knows this. We knew it would be the lot of any child we brought into this world. Yet, we still choose to have him.

Why?

I asked my wife this question a few days ago. Why did we participate with God in his ongoing creative activity? Why did we pull the Goalie? We know that all people experience pain in this life so why drag a child into it?

Why?

She looked at me with perplexed eyes. I’m good at asking questions without providing context. We were watching ‘The Office’ at the time.

Random.

She said somewhat hesitantly, ‘to enjoy him, or to become less selfish’. That’s not a bad answer on the spot. To have someone to share in our love. Also, not bad. Because life is of intrinsic worth. Because we are pro-life. Because despite the struggle, heartache and pain life is worth it.

Definitely.

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The warmth of sun on our faces. The smell of Barbecues in the summer. The dawning of Spring after a bleak Winter. Runners high. A warm shower on a cold morning. A lager and laughter with friends. A lover’s kiss. A beautiful sunset. A listening ear. Solidarity in the face of suffering. Spontaneous laughter in solemn moments.

Laughter. Over the top, making breathing difficult, bringing tears to the eyes, type of laughter.

Silence and unexpected smiles. Wrinkles and hidden depths behind serene eyes.

A great book and a warm cup of coffee. Romantic love. Music. Intellectual insight; or the pleasure of comprehension. The cooling of romantic love replaced by deep affection, intimacy and oneness. A marriage with lots of miles. Play off hockey.

Marital sex.

Play off hockey.

Touch, smell and sight. Prayer, worship, and self-giving. Death followed by resurrection. Jesus Christ….

Life is a gift containing all these treasures. It makes me want to pause and ask the Atheist, ‘Don’t you feel deep down somewhere that life is a gift’? ‘A frail, fragile, mysterious gift’? Perhaps, it’s not the accidental collision of Atoms, a cosmic coincidence, a meaningless meandering through time and space.

‘What if that intuitive hunch isn’t just a naked sentiment arising in a moment of emotional vulnerability? What if life feels like a gift because their is a giver’?

Gratitude would be appropriate.

Kaeden has his whole lifetime to unwrap these presents and revel in the goodness of the Creator. If the sorrows of this world were transfigured into tears we wouldn’t drown in the flood.

God has given us life lines to keep our heads above the water. We grab them every time we celebrate all of the above gifts as evidence of his unmerited common grace.

The gift of salvation, sensuality, senses, solidarity and sunshine….

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Love creates. Always. Until we decide to no longer bring children into this world don’t you think it rather unfair to impugn God for suffering and evil in this one?

Maybe…

We have kids knowing they will suffer to some degree emotionally or physically, all the while wishing it wasn’t so. Yet, we still choose to participate in God’s creative activity. We deem it well worth our while so that our children may share in our love.

The birth of our first son is our emphatic ‘yes’ to life. Our life-long testimony that we believe the good outweighs the bad. The beauty outweighs the brokenness. The grace outweighs the sin and the salvation outweighs the sorrow.


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I fear lapsing into sentimentality. Evil exists. Suffering never feels serendipitous. This is not the best possible world. But it is the way to the best possible world. One where choice is real, where love is real, where salvation is real.

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I’m unsure how much God’s reasons for creating all things coincide with our reasons for having children. Perhaps, they are very different. But the Bible says God created for his Glory.

The most loving, self giving thing a being of pure love and goodness could do is create other persons to enjoy him. He creates us for a loving relationship with himself; we are welcomed into the inner love and life of the Trinity.

Maybe our reasons for having kids aren’t so different. After all we still bear His image….

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ExerSaucer and Beyond…

April 10, 2011

My son is growing. Rapidly. He is changing week to week. He rolled over for the first time the other day too much acclaim and now we can’t keep him on his stomach. His rolling is starting to feel like an act of defiance.

So much for tummy time. He never liked it anyways.

We recently bought him an ExerSaucer (Parent’s sometimes call it the circle of neglect). If you don’t have a baby it’s hard to explain what it is. Basically, you put your child in a seat with two holes for their legs in the middle of a plastic ring. If you have seen swings at the play ground for babies imagine one of those set in the middle of a plastic ring supported by 3 plastic pillars and a plastic base. The outer ring is filled with toys and noise makers.

Kaeden is so adorable when we put him in his ExerSaucer. He will play and then look up to make sure we are watching. He can’t speak real words yet but it already seems like he is looking for affirmation from mom and dad.

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From infancy human beings are built to find affirmation from outside of ourselves. Do you remember the story of the Garden? Adam and Eve were naked and knew no shame. Kind of like Kaeden and any other two year old that has flung off their clothes and bolted for the door in a mad dash for Eden, deftly evading the clutching hands of mom or dad.

Naked and no shame. If I was naked in public it would be the only thing I’d be aware of. True story.

Adam and Eve were naked and they didn’t realize they were naked. I can only guess why. Is it because there was so much love and affirmation pouring into their inner being from their relationship with God that they didn’t think much of themselves? Were they too busy gazing outward at the beauty of God and His world to glance downward?

We are like mirrors meant to receive and reflect God’s love, goodness and glory. It wasn’t until sin severed the connection between us and God that the mirror turned inward and we realized we were naked.

We have been sowing fig leaves ever since.

We have sinned and grown old. Shame, guilt, and blame entered into the human equation. A spiritual mutation took place in our racial infancy and the consequences have been dire.

We have been sowing fig leaves every since.

Still we retain God’s image, still we long for Eden, still we are built to receive affirmation from outside of ourselves. Our souls are thirsty for it.

I want to share with you a piece of writing from Donald Miller’s last book. This passage describes him meeting his dad again. His dad had been absent for most of his life. Miller thought his father was dead but found out he was still alive and went to visit him. This is what he wrote about their first meeting in decades,

“I don’t have any excuses son,’ he said to me. And it was odd to be called Son by a man I hadn’t seen in thirty years. It was odd to be anybody’s son…’I’m sorry’, he said. And he cried. A tear came down his cheek, and he put down his beer and reached his hand over the arm of his chair to the couch, and I took his hand. ‘I’m sorry’, he repeated, his voice breaking with emotion. ‘Do you forgive me’?

‘I do’, I said. ‘I forgive you’. And I did, even though I didn’t know I needed to. I forgave him and haven’t felt anything against him since. He took a sip of his beer and thanked me. He put his hand on my knee and squeezed till I thought my leg would break.

He reached over and picked up my book and smiled and shook his head. ‘You can write’, he said in a voice that seemed to come from before time. ‘I can’t believe how good your stories are’. I didn’t want his words to mean anything. I didn’t want to need his affirmation. But part of our selves is spirit, and our spirits are thirsty, and my father’s words went into my spirit like water”.

We are built to find affirmation from outside of ourselves. Ultimately, we were made to receive it from a relationship with our Creator. But Mom and Dad have a big role. Whether we like it or not, on some level, our parents shaped our image of God. For good or bad.

Did they hand down to us a God of love?

Elsewhere Donald Miller writes about the effects of the fall and he says,

“It makes you feel as a parent the most important thing you can do is love your kids, hold them and tell them you love them because, until we get to heaven, all we can do is hold our palms over the wounds. I mean, if a kid doesn’t feel loved, he is going to go looking for it in all kinds of ways. He is going to want to feel powerful or important or tough, and she is going to want to feel beautiful and wanted and needed. Give a kid the feeling of being loved early, and they will be better at negotiating that other stuff when they get older. They won’t fall for anything stupid, and they won’t feel a kind of desperation all the time in their souls. It is no coincidence that Jesus talks endlessly about love”1.

By God’s grace may I love my son in such a way that he understands a bit of God’s love. May he know he is loved in the ExerSaucer and beyond.

Amen.