Sometimes my heart feels so full of joy that I don't know what to do with it. If the emotion were energy I would run a marathon, bounce off walls or lift a car. In reality I can't do any of these things.
One recent Wednesday morning was a time like this. I received a phone call from my sister's husband while at work. He said, 'She delivered a baby girl this morning.' What electricity went through my veins! At that moment I didn't feel sleepy anymore! After the phone call ended, however, seriousness started to creep over my elation.
This tiny girl, Aria Isabel, born 6 lb 8, was delivered into a world at war and she is helpless. Nothing else in my life, not even the birth of children to my friends, has made me more vividly and painfully aware that this is so for all of us. We are all part of a world at war, a world gone wrong.
Enemies of the true God
In our world at war horror after horror is perpetrated. Goodness is squashed and malformed. Truth is twisted and supressed. Love is selfish and self-seeking.
And unfortunately we have no one to point the finger at apart from ourselves. We have created this monster and are alone to blame.
At international, social, cultural, personal, spiritual, physical levels we are warring against the One who made us—the only true, living God; the God of the Bible. In every sphere we rebel and seek our own ends. It's a scary thought—one that we rationalise away in our age of science and godlessness.
An ancient piece of poetry, Psalm 14 verse 1, describes this, our condition, with awful clarity when the author writes, 'They are corrupt... there is none who does good.' He means us.
Paul writes further in his letter to the Romans, chapter 3, verses 10–18, that our mouths are open graves, deceptive, full of poison, curses and bitterness. We walk a ruinous and miserable path.
It seems impossible to think that this is so when looking at the sweet freshness of Aria. Sometimes I wonder if such thinking is simply the result of an often over-serious mind—I find the contrast terrible. Yet, I scan the testimony of the Bible and take a hard look at current affairs and I know it to be true.
My niece is weak, helpless and the world is at war. It's true—but there are some important lessons that can be learnt from it and a few crossed my mind as seriousness morphed into contemplative thinking that Wednesday morning.
Don't take anything for granted
One lesson was remembering how many things in life are assumed and taken for granted—especially salvation.
No child, even one born to Christian parents, automatically assumes salvation. They are not automatically right with God. This is why there is such destruction in the world. We are born in sin; our relationship with our Creator broken, though he formed us in our mothers' wombs.
Assumed salvation is dangerous. To rethink it means to labour to speak the truth in love; to explain our sinful state and to ceaselessly speak of the goodness of God and how we can be forgiven our many, black sins and be made new through Jesus Christ.
I never want to take any child's spiritual state for granted, especially not that of one connected to me through bonds of blood and love. None of us should.
Wondrous love exists
Another lesson was not so much a lesson as a recollection of the greatness of God.
He is good and He is mighty! Careful and considerate enough to bring one more beautiful child into the world; powerful and mighty to have done so for every person who is and ever was.
The Lord knows our days. He knows the inclinations and thoughts of our hearts. His loving-kindness and mercy know no ends—even His own Son was not spared but sent to us, to save us, though to do so He needed to die a torturous death on our behalf.
This shows that wondrous love exists so, truly, a baby's birth is a time of rejoicing!—despite the dark stain of sin over this world. Though our position before the living, holy God is so serious that we ought never to take it for granted, there is hope in Jesus Christ.
So, I rejoice with father and mother for new life, safe delivery, tiny hands and feet, and days to come. But, even more, I rejoice because God is real and has made Himself known.
This is a lesson that I am happy to take to heart.
In the midst of a contrast as striking and hard-to-bear as that of a baby born and a world at war, God's light shines. He shows His wondrous love to us in the common grace of new life and in the special grace of Jesus Christ, who as Lord and Saviour has power to bring any who believe into everlasting glory.
May His name be praised for ever and ever! Amen.
Irenie How is young yet, by the grace of God, was saved while she was running away from and fighting against Him. God showed her that He is the Lord and she wants you to know this too. After becoming a Christian she finished studying to become a graphic designer and as this she currently works full-time in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Irenie How's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/irenie-how.html