I love a good birth story. I don't necessarily care about all the details of 24 hours of labor or a centimeter by centimeter cervical progression. What I love to hear about is the moment of birth. There is just something so holy about the moment a new person enters the world. I honestly don't remember a lot about the labor leading up to birth but I remember every second of the first hours after my children were born like it was yesterday.
When my daughter, Helen, was born I'm pretty sure everyone in the room was crying. She was just so long expected and so, so fiercely wanted. The moments after her birth were awash in tears of joy. We knew her name the second she was born, named after strong women of my husband's family, women who loved Jesus and loved people well. The sound of my husband crying on the phone with his mother is burned into my memory. Everything about the minutes surrounding her birth was full of the message: you are so, so wanted and loved and precious and ours. I believe these are messages that even minutes old people can receive and understand.
When our son, Patrick, was born the room erupted in shouts of joy and laughter. Patrick's entrance was spectacular, much like every entrance he has made since then! He was surprising in so many ways. Three pounds bigger than Helen was, Patrick reminded us of 3 month old Helen! And he had this full head of glorious, white blonde hair. Look at you, we said, you couldn't be more beautiful, more amazing. He was such a surprise to us that we didn't know his name, despite going into that room being certain of what we would call him. It was nearly an hour before we finally decided to name him after my strong, steady and faithful grandparents. From the moment of his birth, Patrick's world was full of joy and laughter and he carries those things with him to this day.
The truth is, birth stories start long before that holy moment in the delivery room. Birth stories start in the months that lead up to that moment, as you prepare a place for the new baby. We readied the room and set up the crib. We installed the car seat. We tried to prepare ourselves for this new thing that was about to happen in our lives. When Patrick was anticipated we tried to involve Helen, talking to her about her new brother and answering her questions and responding to her excitement. Birth stories are about the preparation too.
Today is the first time I have ever thought about how Genesis 1 & 2 are a kind of birth story. God always knew what He was doing, His creation of mankind didn't come as a surprise to Him. So, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He created just the right atmosphere that would sustain His children. He created a source of light, light that would provide heat for life and day and night (because He knows that children need their sleep). He created water and sky and dry ground. He created plants, already preparing the fruit and other vegetation that His children would need to eat. He created lights in the sky to mark seasons and days and years, lights that would serve as signs, already preparing, before He even created mankind, for the star that would announce the birth of His only Son! Then He filled the sky with birds and the sea with fish. He created all the living creatures that fill the earth. And He said all of this preparation was good, He had created space for His children.
But now the holy moment. He said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness..." He said, all this other stuff, I made it for you. I'm going to make you like me! So, God created mankind in His image. And in the holy moment of birth He blessed us and He gave us the things He had created for us. He told us that He'd done all these incredible things to get ready for us. And after that holy moment of creation God said it was VERY good.
So, here's what I notice about this birth story. I think Christians talk a lot about how we are all sinners who need a savior. And that is true, we all sin. We all need Jesus. But I think that's starting the story in Genesis 3. What Genesis 1 & 2 tell us is that we bear the image of God. Genesis 1 & 2 remind us of the words spoken over us when He created us: we are VERY good. Things have happened and we have fallen short but that does not negate the fact that we are His children and He loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that He provided a way for us to get back to Him.
Remember that birth story. Remember those words. You are an image bearer of God. Nothing can change that fundamental truth of who you are.
(Thanks to the Jefferson Bethke interview on the Relevant Podcast for sparking these thoughts.)