As a new father, I have so much joy in my heart at the moment. I know this is something I should cherish. There is something about babies that does this. I am reminded of the time when Mary the mother of Jesus met with her cousin Elizabeth and the baby, who would one day be John the Baptist, jumped with joy in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:44).
This was a joy from baby to baby as a response to the coming of the saviour of the world. My joy in the current moment is seeing the marvel that is life in my daughter Adaline. I think that little baby John the Baptist got excited about the life of his cousin because of what that life would mean in a similar way. It’s important to be excited about life, especially new life! New life changes things.
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’
The ‘they’ in this passage is you and me, his sheep, those that follow Jesus the shepherd. This is not a prosperity message I’m talking about, but the message that Jesus is life and through Jesus true life, abundant life is found. I spoke last Sunday about our ‘new baby’ as a church – a new evening service that will not be on a Sunday.
Just like any baby it will need love and care, support, compassion and, let’s face it, people to look after it! This is exciting and it should be, but when new life comes along it often changes the norm. I know there is no norm in the Lennon house at the moment! In the midst of this it is important to embrace the joy and life of a new baby, to be thankful for all God has given to us and to trust that the next steps will be made clear to us.
I know that many parents have felt the joy that I am talking about. It is, in many ways, hard to explain but I think that in feeling it we get a partial glimpse of how God the Father views us. It has hit me of late how much our Christian faith is made up of these ‘glimpses’ of God’s thoughts. God is so vast, majestic and august that when we get a glimpse of his thinking we respond with awe. Especially when it is in relation to us. The psalmist described this saying:
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
God thinks of you and loves you. This is a staggering thought and shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, all of Psalm 139 is about how God has thought and does think about your life. I have had conversations over the years with people about how I can believe in a personal, knowable God like this. I have often responded with the simple answer that it takes faith. After all, this is made abundantly clear to us in the Bible. It is not always easy, but it is by faith alone that we know God: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.’ Eph 2:8
It is a gift from God and therefore needs to be received. I don’t know about you, but I’m asking God for the gift of more faith right now. More faith in every area of my life and the life of our church.