“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – the prophet Isaiah (h/t King James)
Two words that change everything. It’s an all too common trope in movies and TV shows, and, to be completely honest, I never quite grasped the impact. It always seemed a bit forced. The zooming away, the strained instrumentals, the closeup on the man’s face as the world falls away around him and he is hit with the stark realization that he is going to be a father. It never made sense – until recently.
In all other respects, it was an uneventful Sunday morning in August. There’s something ignominious and anti-climactic about the fact that today’s women pee on a stick to find out that they’re about to bring a new life into this world. The pink and white plastic heralded our fates (no trumpets or angelic voices here), and it was so. We’re having a baby.
In junior high, we used to call it the miracle of life. A messy, sticky, awkward miracle, to be sure, but when you get down to it, the fact that a woman (let’s be honest here, the guy’s part is negligible) can grow another tiny person within her belly is amazing. We all came from the womb one way or another, so childbirth can feel mundane, but it is no less mystical and miraculous.
Christmas approaches and the holiday has changed. My wife’s own pushes are still a few months off, but this Advent is tinged with expectation. Not that we have any idea what to expect. The thought of being a father fills me with gratitude and amazement, but it’s also accompanied by paralytic hysteria. I can barely take care of myself, let alone a helpless infant.
This process requires faith. After all, much of it takes place unseen. The baby books are full of syndromes and conditions, dos and don’ts, but only a micro-fraction of it is in our control.
“Offspring are a reward from him,” the Psalmist writes, after noting that we labor in vain unless He does the work. And I’m sure any mother can attest that labor, the baby kind, is aptly named.
For my part, I’m helpless. I can take to my knees and plead for the safety of mother and child, pray for the strength to not cause permanent psychological scarring on this coming kid. God, help me not screw this up.
Elsewhere, the Psalmist wrote: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
As I ride out these next few months in nervous anticipation, I’ve definitely got the “fearfully” part covered. Now, I can but trust that Wonderful himself, formerly known as baby Jesus, will do the rest of the making.