…because sin does not take a break, and we are not “there” yet.
Last Monday, I took Jan to the hospital where she was admitted for a bacterial infection that had struck her bladder first and then kidneys. She was in a lot of pain and was not doing well. As they hooked her up to the monitors to check her and the baby’s vital signs, they kept “losing” the baby’s heartbeat. In the next few moments they decided the irregularities were too much to trifle with and, being at a solid 36 weeks, they decided to deliver the baby.
I was on my way home with Anna from her sewing camp, when Jan called and said, “You might want to get up here, we’re having a baby in 30 minutes.” I proceeded to get Anna to the house, generally adhering to traffic laws, and made my way to the hospital. By God’s mercy I made it in time to “suit up” and play my small role in the delivery.
We never find out the sex of our babies. With few true surprises left in the world, it’s something we’ve enjoyed holding on to. So, when they asked, “Do you want to see what you have?” I was anxious and stood to my feet. Gazing over the cloth cover, my eyes quickly scanned about half way down the little, pale purple body to discover that there were parts on the outside of the body! Boy…#1! Jonathan had arrived on the scene.
They checked him out and kept working on Jan, and determined that both were doing well. From there, I gave Jan a kiss and stayed with Jonathan to the nursery. It was a wonder, yet again, to see the miracle of life and praise God for his mercies.
Psalm 139:13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
As I watched Jonathan being cared for by the great attendants and nurses at Willow Creek, my mind began to rehash the morning’s events. I pondered the timing of it all. “Was the baby really in trouble?” We’d probably never really know. “Was Jan in trouble?” Well, enough to be admitted to the hospital for care. “If the baby was in trouble unrelated to Jan’s illness, then this is a miracle.” True, but the miracle of God’s grace in giving life is ALWAYS a miracle, and His miracles can only take on varied adornment, but never be removed from His glory.
I then began to tear up the world of emails and texting. I was going to hold off Twitter / Facebook for a little while so we could personally speak to family. That is, until a sweet church member went ahead and posted the wonderful praises on Facebook, then I scrambled to make a more official announcement — all in good timing.
The church body stepped in immediately earlier in the day when I had to get Jan to the hospital. Graciously, the girls continued to be cared for while I attended to the needs of my wife and new son. After getting Jan settled, however, I had to switch gears. Though we’re not new at this (this is #5 overall), I was a little taken aback by the speed of the events from the morning. Having children is always a bit surreal, but the combined effect of Jan’s illness with the immediacy of the delivery left me a bit overwhelmed.
Honestly, I should’ve stopped and prayed. While I did rejoice and thank God, I was more in a mode of “get things done.” I was on the phone, texting, and emailing a lot. I am grateful for my church family and my family in Texas for their help in those first several days. Without their help, I really don’t think I would have done well. Even with their help, I was not doing all that well.
See, sanctification doesn’t take a break. Sin is always crouching at the door because this dead-man flesh is strapped to my back in this world. I so wanted just to rejoice, but instead I was stressed. There were still kids to care for, sewing camps to deliver to, sermons to prepare, worship to prepare (John Mueller was faithfully leading our family mission trip), and a funeral to perform. I just felt overwhelmed.
As a couple of days passed, and sought to help Jan by caring more for the kids, I realized that I was growing more and more short-tempered (with myself, my kids, my pets…especially cats, I hate cats). It was really focused more on the fact that I realized what I was doing was all well and good, but I wanted to celebrate my son’s birth and needed to care more directly for Jan. Now, I can’t explain all this away, just share how it felt, but I was both bitter over the load I was bearing that week and guilty over not “being there” for my awesome bride. Bad combo.
Grace enters in. Yes, grace in the gospel once again has to enter the frame, and it does through the Word, as always. Like I said, I had to prepare to preach, prepare worship, teach for a local ministry, and perform a funeral. All of these opportunities were focused on Scripture and people. See, even on the most exhausting weeks, the beautiful relentlessness of preaching / teaching / worship forces the Word upon you even in the absence of quiet times and solitude. The gospel of grace had to penetrate my feelings of failure for my attitude and lack of doing enough to care for my family. It did.
God is so good to not stop sanctification. We are ravaged by sin and sin’s effects daily. The enemy does not send us cigars of congratulations at the births of sons. No, he still seeks to rob us of joy and destroy our witness. God, through the powerful working of the Spirit, moves more faithfully.
I wanted a break. I wanted a respite. God (always) wants my holiness and my joy in Him.
What I got was God’s patience, discipline, and mercies.
What I have is an amazing wife.
What I got was a son.
I don’t write this having received everything from the Lord that He would have me receive. I do believe that recognition of His hand is a beginning. Sanctification will continue because Christ continues. He will finish the work and purify His own. I’m so glad, ’cause there are weeks I just want a break, even from being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.