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Christmas – Witnessing Son’s Birth

Here’s a story you might be able to use during the Christmas season. I wrote it some time ago as a new father awed by the birth experience. It gave me an unexpected window on the Christ Child.

MANCHILD

Steven Mosley

Her forehead wet, her cheeks flushed, she lies wrapped

in white, reminding me of Lazarus writhing out of the cave

with a new life. I stand by the bed feeling like a gawky

appendage.

It is 10 P.M. All the carefully memorized contraction

sequences flow together indecipherably, like so much

static. Beside a silver pitcher of water on the night

stand, a machine resembling a seismograph steadily rolls out

lined paper. The ink jerks jagged and erratic. I know they only

measure my wife’s contractions, but as I keep staring at the

slow, steep crescendo and feel her hand grip mine hard, the

machine seems malevolent, as if it were the cause of these

abdominal assaults.

A few times during the long night there are lulls in

the struggle. My wife rests. I retreat to a couch and try

to sleep, but my mind fastens on another, distant scene.

I wonder, how did the Heavenly Father feel while Mary

labored in that Bethlehem

barn? Surrounded by adoring angels and the glories of

heaven, what did He think about delivering His babe into the

quagmire of this earth? I can almost picture Him pacing

back and forth among the cherubim.

Back in the labor room a little electric dot jogs

around its track. Fetal heartbeat they say. I prefer not

to understand. The signs I do know about are unnerving

enough.

I continue rubbing her back, counting and breathing

rhythmically, and lifting her up. Still I can’t get into

where the blows strike. I’m in another world.

The Sovereign God had to wait too–as if helpless,

staring at His palms, taking a back seat to cows and

shepherds. He was no amateur attendant. His hands had not

lost their skill since fashioning the orchids, gazelles and

DNA of this planet. Yet He must remain hidden. Disarmed.

The nurses have been kind and firm through the sluggish

early morning hours. But my winded mate has long ago given

up being gutsy. She takes all the medication her groans can

squeeze out of them.

Finally our infant makes a telling move. They roll her

into a delivery room full of stainless steel. I sneak in

behind a green gown and am surrounded by an ominous array of instruments and pale green sterility. While I wipe her

forehead, she is spread-eagled and harnessed for the big push.

I can’t help thinking of an experimental aircraft buzzing

over a cliff on its first attempt.

I imagine the suspense that must have hung over

Bethlehem. God was to become man–the once-in-eternity

event. Everything depended on that tiny, frail life

struggling in the womb. The fate of the human race hung in

the balance.

Before my tense senses the doctor grabs steel forceps.

Great claws they are, looking like something from Joe’s

Garage. He inserts them (blindly it seems) around those

tiny eyes, lips, nose—gets a good grip and pulls hard,

grunting like a stevedore. The baby doesn’t budge.

Then I remember the Father and the clumsy hands that

seized His Son. A sensitive, guileless youth given up into

the hands of hardened men–what more foolhardy thing could

this God have done? His heavenly character is lost on us.

We fumble and grab rudely at a treasure grossly

misunderstood.

And Pilate delivered Him up to the will of the mob.

Their voices prevail. When Christ’s arms are yanked across

the wood I see the Father involuntarily stretch out His arm,

cringing. The cry pierces.

Suddenly a manchild is plopped down warm on my wife’s

stomach. He is there. I don’t know how. He still grimaces

from the violence of his arrival. My heart stops. His cry

pierces. He gasps in the cold, arms waving helplessly as

those of a man falling through black, featureless space.

Could the Christ have been like this? God Almighty

smudged with dark blood, squinting in the strangeness, head

distended, limbs unwieldy as crowbars.

After our child is bathed, measured and clothed, I run

from nursery window to my wife’s bedside reporting each

momentous event–his tongue is moving; he’s staring at his

left hand.

There in the recovery room we need to release our

exhilaration heavenward. Fluid with the miracle that has

just passed through us, we pour out a prayer of thanksgiving

to God. The weariness of the long night is gone.

And the Father too rejoiced in the Messiah’s birth,

though knowing every detail of Jesus’ coming sacrifice. It

was a potent love welling up in the Almighty that opened His

hands and delivered the Infant into our calloused ones. To

draw us to Himself, he became vulnerable. He saw many other

sons, twice-born, emerging from the dark like Lazarus,

writhing with a new life.

Condensed from the book “Glimpses of God,” by Steven Mosley.

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