This past weekend, I had the privilege of delivering a short message for a baby shower. I decided to share it here as well, in case somebody needs to read it:
Today I want to talk about the miracle of new life. About the wonder of God’s creation.
When I was 23 years old and living in a foreign country, I was nine months pregnant and had no idea what I had gotten myself into. My husband is a black South African, and I remember sitting on the edge of the bed about a week before my due date, sobbing.
My husband asked, “What’s wrong now?” (Because, pregnancy hormones.)
“What if it’s a girl?” I cried. “What will I do with her hair?!”
Well, it was a girl—and it took me nine years before I finally figured out what to do with her hair.
But let’s rewind to the day she was born. After an emergency C-section, they placed this unfamiliar bundle on my chest. She looked Chinese. Her face was pasty and wrinkly, her eyes were squinted closed, her lips were bright red. I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me.
Over the next few days in the hospital, we sat there staring at each other.
And I was utterly mesmerized by the creation I held in my lap. The straight, jet black hair. The black eyes. The tiniest fingernails and toes. And I thought to myself, “Who can look at a newborn baby and not be fully persuaded that the God of the universe must have created the world?” The intricacies and detail of a brand new human, fully formed, is remarkable.
In my mind at the time, she was perfect.
Fast forward just seven sleepless months, and my little bundle of perfection has learned how to army crawl. She’s squirming forward with determined intent, and her eyes are set on the outlet on the wall. She pauses and turns around to look at me. “No!” I say firmly, with my pointer finger extended like moms are supposed to do. I caught a hint of a smile in her eyes as she turned around and forged ahead, goal growing ever closer.
“No!” I said again, louder this time. She stopped crawling, turned around again, and smiled her charming smile. “I said, ‘No!’” I repeated. Fully aware of the meaning of the word, my precious angel resumed her mission, completely ignoring my command.
So I scooped her up, sat on the steps, laid her on her tummy across my lap, and was about to spank her for the first time. I pulled back her diaper—and got a hand full of poop.
Totally grossed out, all I could do was laugh, and my poor child was utterly confused.
Today she’s 11 years old and whenever she hears that story, she reminds me that she got the last laugh. She says, “Mom, you were trying to teach me a lesson, but I taught you a lesson instead!”
But the point of that whole story is to say that my innocent little newborn did not stay innocent for long—in fact, nobody had to teach her how to do wrong. Nobody had to teach her how to sin. She already had that capacity stored up within her.
Just like you and me.
In fact, in the book of Psalms in the Bible, David writes, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David doesn’t say he became aware of his own sin when his mom told him a story about how he army crawled toward the outlet when he was seven months old. He doesn’t even say he became sinful after he was born—he says he was sinful from the time his mother conceived him.”
The Bible tells us that because Eve took the fruit in the Garden of Eden and gave some to her husband, who also ate it, sin entered the world, and as a result, every single one of us is a sinner. Without God’s intervention, we are all living in rebellion against Him and His Word. Without Jesus as Lord of our lives and without the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we’re not just army crawling toward the outlet on the wall – we’re running toward it. We’re sprinting head-on toward destruction.
So what are we supposed to do?
During Jesus’ lifetime, a man named Nicodemus had a similar question. In the Gospel of John, chapter three, it says:
“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”
A few verses later in the same chapter, we read,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
So how can we be born again?
By believing in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, as the only way we can be saved from our sins, and by trusting in Him and His death and resurrection for our salvation.
I started by saying I wanted to talk about the miracle of new life. And while the birth of a baby is certainly a miraculous thing—it is not the most miraculous thing. The most miraculous thing is God coming in the form of a baby, being born of a human mother, so He could one day carry the sins of His people on the cross, take the punishment and die the death we deserve, defeat death and conquer sin by rising again on the third day so that those who put their faith in Him will have the gift of new life.
But here’s the catch—my daughter didn’t know how to be born. She had no part in the process, other than to gasp her first breath and let out a loud cry—and even that breath and that cry was placed in her by the God who created her.
In the same way, when we’re born again, it’s God’s doing. Before we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are dead in our sins—and we all know that dead people can’t do anything, not even reach up a hand for help. There is nothing you or I can do to earn our way into heaven. No matter how good we think we are, it’s not good enough. God has to stir in our hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit, and He is the one who causes us to gasp that first breath of new life and cry out to Him, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!”
I encourage you today, as we celebrate a new baby about to be born for the first time, and the gift and miracle of new life, to ask yourself, “Have I been born again?”
If the answer is no, or even if you’re not sure, I’d love to talk with you.
Becoming a child of God is the best decision you could ever make, and the best way to celebrate and thank Him for the miraculous gift of this new baby.
Related post: Trusting God with Our Children