birth…revisited

Such a powerful experience, birth is! When I think of birth I not only think of new beginnings, but of the pain and anguish of labor that lead up to the birth. We have both endured a painful labor as we’ve grown into who we are today.

That was the text message I received this morning from my beautiful friend. She had just read the blog post I wrote about my One Word for the year…birth. And with that one mobile missive she opened my eyes, my mind, and my heart to an entirely new dimension of what birth means to me personally.

I thank God now for the labor because we are both much more appreciative of the gifts in our lives than we could have ever been without it.

Depth…realized through suffering. Refinement…brought about through pain. Growth requires stretching and splitting and sloughing away and, honestly, growth requires loss. It is a strenuous, difficult process…but it leads to miraculous things.

I am reminded of the Biblical text that the pastor used a couple Sunday mornings ago:

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV

For the past couple of years, I have been standing on that mountain, feeling the tearing winds and the shattering rocks and the jolting percussion of an uncertain life. I have felt the searing pain of the fires of anger and disappointment. And I have pulled the cloak of sadness over my face on many occasions…trying to shield myself from the destruction of what I thought would never go away. It was the pain of birth…the labor of growth…and I hated it.

But, after the wind and the earthquake and the fire, comes the gentle whisper. That is what I’m hearing now. I’m hearing the reassuring reminder that God has not forgotten me…He has not abandoned me…He has not left me to the pain without the promise that something good will come of it.

And it has.

The labor of the past two years has produced beauty, peace, depth, and strength. It has crafted in me a willingness to trust and wait on what God is doing and recognize His hand in the process.

The last part of 1 Kings 19:13 asks, “What are you doing here?” I think that is the thing I have to consider now. Now that this labor has brought forth beautiful birth, what am I doing? How will I respond? How will I use what God has grown in me for His glory and for others?

The answer will be evident day by day…just as all growth is.

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