For those of you who didn’t know, my wife and I are expecting our first child. It’s an exciting time in our lives. We have prayed for a child for a long time now and God answered our prayer a few days before Christmas. Finding out that we were expecting during the season when we celebrate the birth of our Savior was simply sublime. Words cannot truly express our gratitude for the gift of a child.
As we have begun sharing our news with friends and co-workers, a common question keeps coming up. Are you hoping for a boy or a girl? Well, I’m hoping for a boy. Unashamedly. But I always throw in the caveat that I’ll be just as excited for a girl. Generally, the conversation continues and at some point the phrase “as long as it’s happy and healthy” is spoken (sometimes by me…sometimes by the other person). Nods of agreement ensue and we then go about our business.
Since the beginning of the year, my church is going through the Gospel of Mark. The title of the series is Jesus Changes Everything (check out the sermons here). As we have gone through the Gospel of Mark, we are seeing how Jesus really does changes everything. He wields an authority that is unprecedented because He is king of an unprecedented kingdom. Since He comes to crush all competing kingdoms, His presence is threatening and terrifying. Christ has come, with all authority, and no other kingdom will survive the arrival of His. The elite of this world quiver in fear. The powerful see what they cherish slipping through their grasp. And we can all count ourselves a part of this fearful group. Little caveats like “as long as…” betray our membership among the elite and powerful. They betray our desire to build our own kingdom.
When I say or agree with that little caveat, I am conveying that I am still a kingdom-builder. Think about that phrase for a moment. The gift of new life somehow becomes less than a gift just because things differ from our own wishes. Deep down, the scary truth is that in my kingdom, what I need is a child that is healthy. No down syndrome. No weird genetic disorder. No missing fingers or toes (or extras for that matter). That’s what my kingdom requires. Perhaps you think I’m being too hard on myself. Everyone wants their child to be healthy. Yes. It’s completely natural. It is a good desire. It is right for me to pray for a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy for my wife. Yet, the problem is when we hold it against God when the healthy baby and the healthy pregnancy do not come. When we try to make deals with God, that is when our prayers betray our hearts. And the scary reality is that uncounted throngs of people who desired what is natural and right will end up in hell, because they only sought Jesus’ kingdom as an add-on. “As long as…” ruled their hearts, not Jesus.
What if having a healthy and happy baby would send me to hell? What if what my soul and my family need is a baby who is unhealthy and sanguine? Would I trust in Christ more with a healthy baby or an unhealthy baby? Would prayer be every breath reality and not a spotty occurrence? No one asks these questions. No one allows them self to think that far down the road. And the reason is that we are all little kingdom builders. Busy little bees, building our little hives, our little lives. And when we sense the presence of Christ, fear overcomes us.
Some days I struggle with the fear that my baby will not be “normal.” There are days that “as long as…” seeks to rule my heart over Jesus. And I am ashamed. I am exposed. For I am a little kingdom builder. I want a “normal” son so we can play catch. I want a “normal” daughter so my wife can teach her to cook. And on those days I am threatened because I know that the Kingdom of my God and his Christ has come. Woe is me, for I am undone.
Yet, there is hope for me. Even when I am threatened. Even when I am fearful. I am drawn towards the one who threatens me. For though my kingdom is shaken, what he offers me in return is far greater than anything I could have built on my own. He offers me membership in an unshakable kingdom. And though difficulty may come, it is for my good. And ultimately, the difficulty will be but a blink of an eye when the perfect comes.
Whether I am ready or not, the little bundle of joy is coming. This child is a gift. This child is a blessing. No matter what the sex or health or psychological disposition. And I am sure that this child is meant for my sanctification. My life will be turned upside down in ways that I cannot even comprehend. And because my Father did not spare His own Son, I know that this new chapter is for my good. And as I grow older and new chapters are written, my kingdom will continue to be threatened. And I say, let it be so.
“Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down…” (Revelation 12:10)
Well, it’s gonna be a boy! I’m pretty pumped. His name will be Callen Ryan Camblin.