Ye Must Be Born Again
Her first response to the gift of new life was to burst into tears.
Moments before, the heavens had been ripped open for her. Light flooded in. She found herself transported into a whole new world: the dark, comfortable existence of the past was left behind in an instant. Everything, everything was suddenly unfamiliar.
She started to cry – a mixed wail of anger and fear. Little rivulets of tears tumbled down her cheeks. She gasped and struggled to breathe.
She clenched her eyes shut tight, as if she could will herself back into the darkness by pretending it was all just a bad dream.
But there was no going back.
She felt utterly helpless.
But there was help. Suddenly she was surrounded by voices and hands eager to soothe and to comfort. “There, there, it’s all right,” they said. “It’s OK, honey. We’ve been waiting for you.”
They tended to her. They washed her. They cleared her lungs, allowing her to breathe – and to cry even more loudly.
Then they swaddled her and handed her to her proud father- to me. Seven pounds and one ounce of new, abundant life, trailing (as Wordsworth wrote) “clouds of glory”.
My response to the gift of new life was to have tears in my eyes as well.
Late that night, after the joyful visits with family, the inspections by doctors and nurses, the love-sick hours cooing and snuggling, I sit in silent darkness staring out the hospital window while holding my sleeping baby daughter in my arms. I think of Nicodemus, talking with Jesus by night.
Nicodemus tells Jesus that he knows Jesus is something special from God. After all, he’s seen Jesus’ miracles with his own eyes.
But Jesus tells Nicodemus that it’s not enough merely to behold a miracle and think you know what the kingdom of God is. To really see the kingdom of God, Jesus says, you must experience a miracle inside of yourself.
It’s not enough to merely behold new life, or even to hold it in your arms. You must become new life. You must become the helpless, frightened, dependent, beautiful little baby yourself.
“Ye must be born again,” Jesus says – “from above.”
As I stare out the window, like Nicodemus, I begin to talk to Jesus by night. I think of the changes ahead for my little family. It has taken my wife and I three years to figure out how to live with a preschooler. We’ve finally mastered the routine of play-time, dinner, bath, and bed-time. Our three-year-old is finally potty-trained, finally sleeps through the night. Now we’re going to have to learn all of these things over again. We must learn anew how to be a family, and how to glorify God together.
I meditate on sleepless nights, doctors’ visits, and mountains of dirty diapers. The womb of the past is left behind: now I am surrounded by the unfamiliar. I face changes that make me want to cry tears of both joy and fear. I feel helpless. I want to close and clench my eyes. There is no going back.
Then I look down at my sweet, sleeping baby daughter again, and I am overcome anew with love. I see a miracle with my own eyes. And yet there is more: I feel miracles inside of me.
With my daughter’s birth, the heavens have been ripped open for me. Light floods my soul. I find myself in a new world.
I have been born again, again.
I am swaddled in the arms of my heavenly Father-
and it’s wonderful.