Last week, I had the awesome privilege of assisting in the birth of a baby. I've done this before, but this particular event left me with a sense of awe and wonder. I not only witnessed a new birth in the natural, but I saw clear evidence of a spiritual birth that had taken place a little over a year ago.
The birthing process is practically as old as dirt. It starts with the expectation of life, whether in the hope of a young couple, or as a surprise to the unsuspecting. Over time it matures, like a bud on a tree until at the appointed time, it then explodes into the world and says "here I am!" As with a bud, the outer covering is sloughed off and falls to the ground as a brand new life cycle begins.
While in the delivery room, there was surely evidence of a birth! There was a sack full of embryonic fluid, there was blood, there was a discarded placenta that had given life to that unborn child for nearly 9 months, there was sweat on the brow of the new mother, there were onlookers who gazed as if in a fog at the miracle they had just witnessed and of course, and there was a brand new, healthy, very vocal little baby announcing to the world that she had indeed arrived! All of this was very spectacular and I never cease to be amazed at the miracle of birth and all that it entails.
But this particular birth day was beyond what I normally observe in a delivery room. There was more than just evidence of a natural birth. There was unrelenting, undeniable, over obvious evidence that there had been a spiritual birth in the lives of this young couple. They had made the decision a little over a year ago to just go all out for God. They had dedicated their lives, their marriage, their very existence to the one that had saved them from their sin. Over the course of the last year and a half, I've come to know this couple. I've seen their hunger, I've observed their meek, submissive, teachable spirits. Yes, they were babes in Christ, but even I was not aware of all that God was doing in them until delivery day--that day when if character can be adequately tested, it is then.
Over the course of the pregnancy, this young mother had sought God about a lot of things concerning her pregnancy and the birth of their baby. Some of them, for a babe in Christ, were, in my mind, almost too lofty. But knowing that nothing is impossible with God if we just have faith to believe, we, as a church family, agreed together with them in prayer.
Finally the day of delivery came and we all gathered in the delivery room. As labor progressed and intensified, I watched as this young woman remained exactly the same. Her countenance never changed. As we talked and reminded each other of all that she was believing God for and all that she had come to believe about labor and delivery, a peace was evident in her face that was almost surreal. I observed strength and perseverance that was way beyond her years and that could only have come from God Himself. And when the child arrived, there were tears of joy and much rejoicing, just as scripture tells us there should be.
About 24 hours later, I awoke in the middle of night with tears running down my face. I knew that I had been profoundly affected by what I had experienced the previous day, but I really hadn't taken the time to sort through it all. As I lay there in the dark, my spirit just exploded in awe and wonder, not at the miracle of physical birth, but at the miracle of birth in the Spirit that I had seen evidence of. Being in ministry, I hear the words "I'm a Christian" ALOT! Unfortunately, all too often, the evidence of that declaration is missing when put to a test of character and faith. Anyone can go to church and act spiritual for a few hours and fool the whole world. It's only when you are in a situation that is completely out of your control that you learn what is truly inside. Just as tea seeps from a tea bag when placed in boiling water, what we are truly on the inside becomes obvious when we are under the heat of a hard circumstance.
I truly saw in their lives evidence of a birth. It was obvious that they too had been through the blood--the blood of Christ. Their old lives had surely passed away at the time of their birth and they were now new creations that announced to the world "Hey, I'm here!" I watched as family members who obviously had a different perspective about who this couple was as they stood in awe at the strength, peace and faith that they saw. I heard the comments of the doctor and the nurses as they worked during the delivery. But what I noticed most was the almost tangible presence of faith all throughout the room. And others noticed it too, although they couldn't identify what it was. I saw how in their very first pregnancy, this couple had grabbed hold of spiritual things that it took me 3 pregnancies to get. There was evidence that the time they had spent in the Word had prayer had been effectual and powerful.
It was one day I was truly humbled and blessed to be in ministry. It's easy to come to expect all the disappointments, all the seeming failures, all the times you wonder if maybe you should have done something differently in ministry. You feel the weight of a soul that falls into deception, or a soul who chooses to just walk away. You know that they were placed in your care by the Great Shepherd and you always take a step back to see if you were in any way responsible for it. You can even second guess yourselves at times.
But when you see the evidence of birth and healthy growth in the life of one of your sheep it can erase a lifetime of disappointments. In your spirit you just get that "yes, Yes, YES" because you realize that nothing has changed. The Word of God is still powerful, it is still active and it is still birthing spiritual life into the lives of lost humanity.
As we stood rejoicing around the bed after the birth of that beautiful child, I momentarily thought about the rejoicing in heaven that must have happened the day this young couple gave their hearts to Christ, leaving the old life behind, passing through the blood of Christ and into new life. And I understood why the angels rejoice over just one soul that finds it's way to the cross. Every life is precious to God. Every birth a new beginning--a moving from the dark confines of sin, through Calvary, into the marvelous light of God's love and life. And even now, I still stand in awe at the wonder of it all.