It is that beautiful, mysterious, thrilling, and absolutely exhausting newborn baby season of life for us. The hours, days, and weeks slip by as the clock plays second fiddle to the discovery of this incredible baby boy. I remember the first time that Katie and I had went through this season. People told us about the midnight feedings, diaper changes, crying, and absolute exhaustion that comes from having a newborn. They told us about all the “responsibilities.”
What nobody could have prepared us for was the joy, wonder, and absolute thrill of every midnight feeding: just watching the miracle of that little boy’s appetite, how his strength grows, his little tongue, lips, and perfect tiny fingernails. Nobody could possibly have prepared us for the joy, wonder, and absolute thrill of the diaper changes and crying: studying his cries, his tears, his little arms and legs, hands and feet, kissing them, cleaning them, and caring for him. Nobody could possibly have prepared me for the exhaustion, but also that even when I am most exhausted and my baby boy is already asleep (so I could also be asleep!), I would throw caution, precaution, and all practicality to the wind just so I can lean over that baby with my bloodshot eyes and just watch him sleep, watch him breathe, and study him so carefully because I cannot take my eyes off of him. I could not have imagined the depth of my love for that little baby.
It is not that time, sleep, food, other people, work, and everything else in life is not important. Rather, it is that they all suddenly play a supporting role. It is like discovering everything all over again and discovering it to be full of new meaning as it relates to this beautiful little boy. Pants are not just pants. They are pants on Levi! Sleep is not just sleep. It is Levi sleeping! Other people are not just friends or strangers, but friends and strangers holding and discovering Levi! All the ordinary things become extraordinary!
Maybe you know where I am going with this. Our baby boy was born at 5:41 on the morning of Christmas Eve. I looked over at Katie at one point and said, “You and the virgin Mary were probably laboring at the same time!” Those last few weeks leading up to Levi’s birth were not easy. They were filled with, at first, a joyous, but then an absolutely agonizing anticipation and preparation. Wow! The season of advent took on so much more meaning as we prepared for the birth of Christ and the coming of our own little boy.
One of my favorite passages is from Romans chapter 8: “We know that the whole of creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves…” I have always thought that it is incredible we spend so much time planning, decorating, preparing, and anticipating Christmas and then when it does arrive, we celebrate for a single day and rush frantically to halt Christmas full stop! We take down the tree, we take down the lights, we throw out the wrapping paper, we rush back to work, we start planning and working for the next things and quickly put Christmas behind us. All that anticipation for a single day of celebration? Really? When all of creation has been groaning in labor pains!? Maybe it deserves a season.
Maybe it deserves a season of discovery. Maybe it deserves a beautiful, mysterious, thrilling, and absolutely exhausting season of life for us. A season when the hours, days, and weeks slip by as the clock plays second fiddle to the discovery of this incredible baby named Jesus. People talk about all the “responsibilities” of being a follower of Jesus: prayer, Bible study, serving others, giving our money, time, and energy to the mission of God, to the church.
Nobody could possibly prepare us for all this discovery! But also, that even when we are most exhausted, we could be sleeping, doing something else, engaging in all the normal activities, we would throw caution, precaution, and all practicality to the wind just so we can lean into the eyes and arms of this newborn Messiah and just watch him and study him so carefully because we cannot take our eyes, our minds, our hearts, off of him. We could not have imagined the depth of our love for this baby, this promise, this Jesus.
It is not that time, sleep, food, other people, work, and everything else in life is not important. Rather, it is that they all suddenly play a supporting role. It is like we are discovering everything all over again and discovering it to be full of new meaning as it relates to this beautiful Jesus! Prayer is not just prayer. It is a conversation with the Creator, the Word become flesh, the Light in the darkness, Emmanuel! The Bible is not just the Bible. It is a glimpse, a window, a gateway, a conversation, into the heart and mind of Jesus! Other people are not just friends or strangers, but friends and strangers discovering the love and life of Jesus! The church is not just a group of people, but the very hands, arms, feet, eyes, and body of Jesus Christ and when we eat, laugh, play, cry, and worship together we do it with Jesus! In this season of discovery, all the ordinary things become extraordinary!
I think it is incredible that Christmas comes right before the beginning of a new year. It is as if we are invited to enter all the experiences, the joys, trials, successes, failures, laughter and tears with the opportunity to discover more of Jesus in every single moment! Everything else redefined in relation to this Messiah who has come, and is coming, into our world.
I am writing this at 11:20 in the morning. I went to bed (sort of) around 1:00 in the morning. I got up at around 4:00 in the morning. I just took a turn burping my baby boy and when I finish this paragraph, I will change his diaper. And it is all incredible! I am exhausted from the joy, from the wonder, the mystery, and the love I have discovered! It is how I feel about Jesus Christ. I want to finish with this incredible quote about the baby in the manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer It is a long one, but just too good not to share:
“We cannot approach the manger of the Christ child in the same way we approach the cradle of another child. Rather, when we go to his manger, something happens, and we cannot leave it again unless we have been judged or redeemed. Here we must either collapse or know the mercy of God directed towards us. What does this mean? Isn’t all of this just a way of speaking?... For us it is not just a way of speaking. For that’s just it: it is God himself, the Lord and Creator of all things, who is so small here, who is hidden here in the corner, who enters into the plainness of the world, who meets us in the helplessness and defenselessness of a child, and wants to be with us. And he does this not out of playfulness or sport, because we find that so touching, but in order to show us where he is and who he is, and in order from this place to judge and devalue and dethrone all human ambition. The throne of God is not on human thrones, but in human depths, in the manger.” (God is in the Manger, pg. 66)
It feels like Christmas! Every day feels like Christmas! Let’s plunge into the depths, celebrate it together, and let everything else play the most beautiful supporting role to the life of Jesus!