Today is the due date for my first child, a daughter, who was born five weeks early.  During my pregnancy, I wrote her a few letters as I processed my own preparation to become a mother.  They are part of the spiritual journey I have walked over these past months, and so I share them here in that light.


Written November 10, 2010

Baby,

There are so many things I want to tell you.  Sometimes I wonder if I will forget some of them before I have a chance to tell you, before you understand.  There are simple things, like how to tie your shoes and how to write thank-you notes.  And there are more complex things, things about life and death, pain and joy.  The things of which life is really made in between sandwiches and birthday parties and homework.  And these are the things that inhabit my stories.  I have a lot of them, though I have only lived 29 years, and I hope I can share most of them with you over the course of your life.  Some of them come from my own experiences, and some of them come from the lives of others – family, friends, or people I’ve somehow crossed paths with on this earth.

I was reading yesterday about how God’s people had forgotten what he had done for them, how they didn’t believe him and didn’t trust in his deliverance (Psalm 78:11, 22).  The person who tells us this in the Bible promises to tell the next generation about God and his power and everything he has done in order to break this cycle of forgetfulness among his own people.  He says that God wants us to do this, so that “even the children yet to be born … would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”   (Psalm 78:6-7)

And it occurred to me that these are the most important stories that I tell you.  And I promise to tell them to you, as my family told them to me.  More than anything, Child, I want you to know him who is knitting you together in my womb as I write these words.  For he alone can pass along all that you need to know for this life.  From him alone comes wisdom and knowledge.  Your mother doesn’t have all the answers (although you will think I do when you’re young and be utterly convinced that I do not when you’re a teenager).  There is no way that I can prepare you for every moment of your life.  There is no way I can be with you in every situation.  I am already painfully aware of how little control I have over your life, though I have been given a place of humbling influence in it and over it.

You have been entrusted to me for reasons beyond my comprehension, and so I promise to tell you about the One I must trust with your life and to whom I pray you would surrender yours.  I promise to tell you about who he is and what he has done.  And I promise to tell you who he is to me and what he has done for me and in me and through me.  Not a moment of my life has escaped his attention and, when I have trusted him, not a moment, not a story has been wasted either.  Even the painful ones.  I have a heritage of grace and redemption to tell you, and it is the most important thing that I could pass on.  I have some hard stories to tell you.  I have some funny stories to tell you.  I have some stories to share that I don’t even know about yet.

That’s the first thing I want to tell you about God, that he is always working, though you might not think so.  And what he’s working on may not be what we expect him to be working on, but we can always trust that it’s the right thing.  There are times when I’ve thought he must have turned his attention elsewhere, that surely he would not have let things happen as they did if he had known.  But on the other side, I realized that he did know what was going on, that he hadn’t abandoned me, and that the unexpected turned out to be far better than my own plans.

And I’m not the only one who has failed to see this at times.  When you and I start to read the Bible together, you’ll see that God did a lot of amazing things in the Old Testament, wonders in the world and wonders in people’s hearts.  But there came a time when people thought he’d stopped working.  They thought he must have abandoned them.  They couldn’t see or hear him, so they assumed he had just given up on them.

But they forgot who he was.  They forgot that he wasn’t like them, people who were quick to turn on their promises and easily angered by others who didn’t seem to measure up.  They didn’t realize the full extent of his love.  They didn’t understand his ways.  He was hard at work.  He always had been, and he wanted to be with them forever because he loved them so much.  He wanted to make them into the people they couldn’t be on their own.

So “when the time had fully come,” he became like them and became a baby like you (Galatians 4:4).  They called him Jesus.  And he lived a life that made a lot of people stop and think and change theirs.  He made some people angry though because they still thought God was supposed to act the way they wanted him to act and expected him to act.  But he didn’t.  He acted the way he had created them to act.  And a lot of people couldn’t understand that, so they wanted to get rid of him.  And so he died on a cross.

But that’s the great irony of history, Jesus knew that would happen.  After all, he is God.  And he let them put him to death on a cross.  He didn’t have to do it, but he chose to do it.  He had been working everything out all along because he knew he was the only one who could save us from the mess into which we had fallen.  We couldn’t be who he had intended us to be.  We couldn’t be like him on our own.  And that failure kept us from knowing him the way he wanted us to know him.  And so he took upon himself our failures and made them his own.  He died so that we could live and so that we could be with him forever.

When it had seemed like he was silent and when it seemed like he had given up on everyone he had made, the truth was that he was working on a plan that was far greater than what anyone expected.  The truth is that he wasn’t far off, and he wanted us to be with him.  And so he did something that seemed not to make any sense, but it was the only thing that could be done to settle the matter once and for all.  And that is why we trust him, Child.  That is why we love him.  That is why we worship him and believe that life does not work apart from him.  He is every story.  He is everything.  For me and for you.

I love you,

Mama

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