“Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” 1 Timothy 2:15
The two concepts I’m most passionate about are Jesus & childbirth. If you know me, you’re nodding your head or rolling your eyes…and realizing that I left one off: breastfeeding. Ok, you got me there. But this post is not going to address breastfeeding…as much. You better believe it will be in here, but it’s not the focus this time. The focus of this blog is going to be on how two subjects that can literally have me talking for hours make one of the most beautiful metaphors I have ever encountered. First I must give a disclaimer: when I am speaking about birth, I will be referring to raw, unmedicated, natural childbirth. It is the only way I have personally experienced giving birth and what I have researched the most. I realize that sometimes problems arise, intervention is necessary, mothers choose to do things differently, but I am not talking about those situations right now. They mess up my metaphor (which is imperfect, but still blew my mind). So bear with me…and let’s talk about how remarkable it is that the way we enter the world as freshly born humans parallels the way we are regenerated through the Gospel.
Conception & Pregnancy
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
Another disclaimer: I am writing this from my belief that the bible is the inherent word of God, breathed BY HIM through men and that God is sovereign over all things, both good and bad.
So—conception—sperm fertilizes egg (the specific egg chosen by God)—life BEGINS—we have a small part in getting the sperm TO the egg, but the rest is completely out of our control. In the perfect PH, temperature, and time in an ovulation cycle, this miraculous event creates life. Cells then divide, sweet baby embryo implants, and God continues to form this baby into who he or she is predestined by God and genetics to be. It is so complex that it required an entire course in physical therapy school, embryology. And that all takes place inside of the mother, with her only input being what she puts in her body to nourish it and how active she is. All the details of growing each of the baby’s organs, limbs and cute squishy face are out of her hands. It is kind of terrifying to be pregnant knowing so much is happening within you that you have no control in whatsoever. But, as believers, we can have hope in the fact that God works all things for the good of his children and His glory, whether we perceive it as good or bad. (Romans 8:28, Lamentations 3:37-38) For 40+ weeks mothers carry the gift God continues to knit together as their bodies transform for what’s to come. Their ovary and placenta produce a hormone, relaxin, which helps their ligaments to become lax to allow for more movement between joints and therefore more space for baby to come out. Their body grows an organ to support, nourish, and protect the life within her. All things we have no control over and all things that are vital for procreation.
In the same way, at the very beginning, actually BEFORE the beginning, God chose us and then draws us to himself. We are spiritually dead; therefore we can contribute nothing to this process. He lovingly pursues us at the perfect time in our life when we are able to recognize his calling. As with conception, this event is nothing short of miraculous. He gives us his Holy Spirit to be able to have the faith required to proclaim Him as Lord. Our faith is conceived by His grace alone, and therefore we are saved. While we are STILL dead in our sins, He comes, reveals, draws us to himself, and saves us. We would never choose Him on our own, but He chose us and gives us the faith to believe. “We love because he loved us.” 1 John 4:19
“…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” Ephesians 1: 4-5
Then comes the hard part. The word labor means physical or mental exertion. As someone who has experienced labor twice, I would add spiritual to that. It begins the process by which your baby will enter the world!! It can start with slight contractions that progressively increase in severity OR it can start and stop, start and stall, or start abruptly and knock you to your knees literally (like it did with my second). Physically, what is happening is your uterus is contracting in order to open your cervix and move your baby down. Typically, this part is not comfortable. It hurts. You know what else hurts? Recognizing you are not instinctively good, that you are actually bad, and that there is nothing you can do on your own to change that. It is not comfortable to admit that you are not able to be “good enough” by trying really hard, with everything you’ve got. Similar to early labor, it is easy to finally realize you are sinful then try to stop sinning, start sinning again, stop, then start again because it is literally impossible to not sin by your own power. It is almost preferred for your sin to literally knock you to your knees so that you HAVE to rely on His grace right away and are led to repentance. I know with labor, I thought that I would prefer the short and SUPER INTENSE option, but honestly it doesn’t matter how you get to the end. Either way, when it’s all said and done, there’s a baby. And no matter how you get to the point of accepting that you can’t work your way out of your sin nature, there is repentance. “Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” Acts 3:19-20. Facing your sin and repenting eventually leads to times of refreshment as labor leads to eventually resting with your child in your arms.
Finally!! We’ve made it to birth!! Every mom understands this feeling in the last month of pregnancy. Feeling like the baby may never actually come out. But fear not, all you weary, ready-to-pop Mommies, your baby WILL come out! I love birth. How our bodies were made to make, carry and finally birth babies is so freaking cool to me. After you’ve allowed your uterus to do all the legwork of bringing your baby down and softening/dilating your cervix, you finally get to summon your inner animalistic, fierce, mama bear strength and help your body push your baby out! You could also breathe peacefully and methodically as your body instinctively pushed, but my big guys needed a little help! Again—no matter how it happens…your end product is: baby + oxytocin + joy= birth high and cuddles. A new life has begun. SO. MUCH. EMOTION. AHHHH! So it is with rebirth. When you reach the point where you can proclaim Jesus is God, His spirit is in you. He has caused breath to enter you so that you might TRULY live. (Ezekiel 37:5) Like labor prepares you for birth by softening and dilating, the Lord softens your heart, opens your eyes, and prepares you by His Holy Spirit to be able to turn from sin and proclaim Jesus as Lord.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5
There may be an entire blog on this section, but it’s important to realize that it doesn’t end there! Birth isn’t it! NOW you have to take this baby home, learn how to feed and nourish him, and then raise him! First you feed the baby milk, the substance your body creates with the perfect elements that a developing baby needs to thrive. Then you introduce solids. You support him as he learns new skills, new mobility, and blossoms into his own little (or BIG) personality. Then babyhood becomes toddlerhood, and the reality of the need for discipline slaps you in the face. You struggle through that second year, and then they become threenagers…a whole new ballgame. So many changes and so much growth. Three is as far as I’ve gotten but I stand by my belief that nothing forces you to see your own sin like having kids. We have had to make countless decisions for our boys over the past three years ranging from diapers to sleeping arrangements to when to introduce solids, and so much more. Parenting is hard. I think even more so now that everyone has something to say about how you do it because it is all over social media (by choice, I realize). The important thing is that you research each and every decision you make for your little ones, so that you know why it works for YOU. We have a natural instinct – a parental intuition, but our babies also deserve for us to spend a little time reading up on what’s best for them. Which brings me to what comes after proclaiming Christ. If you can say Jesus is Lord then you have the Holy Spirit in you – empowering you to live as a Christ-follower. But God has given us an AMAZING gift through that same Spirit – the Bible. His Word is like our milk, living and nourishing to our souls. It helps mature our faith by showing us the way in which we should go. “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready.” 1 Corinthians 3:2. The Holy Spirit reveals the foundational truths through scripture and then more and more as we grow and experience sanctification. He disciplines us as our flesh tries to maintain control, like bossy toddlers who want our way. We will have our own thoughts, often times tainted by sin, which may cause us to fall back into patterns of sin. Hence why it is so important that we consistently turn to his Word for guidance and instruction on how to be more like Jesus. After all, Jesus IS the point. Knowing him, being known by him, becoming more like him, and telling people about him. He breaks the chains of our sin as many times as it takes, breathes life into our dead bones, and allows us to experience JOY by living in his will.