Saturday, April 16, 2011

III. Delivery

[November 2007, a busy hospital in India]

I welcomed a little one  from the hidden place of her mother. In early labour she was quiet through the pains, smiling in the relief.  The pains increased in intensity and frequency and she would grab my hand and cradle her face with it while Sarah rubbed her back.

After some hours her distress was inconsolable and the irresistible urge to deliver her baby had arrived.  The birth was magnificent and I laid the fresh babe, covered in vernix and possibility, on her mother's chest.  Deliverance.  She sang her first song (and I pray she keeps on singing).  In my heart I called her Khesed, the ancient Hebrew word for God's steadfast love.  I put her mother's hand on Khesed's head and showed her that Khesed had the anointing of Eve. She turned her head and refused to look.  Her first child had also been a girl.

Later, I held Khesed in the newborn room and couldn't believe how gorgeous she was.  I spoke her name over her and prayed.

As painful as it is to see a mother disappointed with the birth of her daughter, I felt the Spirit say that my own deliverance is often not what I want.

The story of God's people is rife with deliverance, whether it's the exodus from Pharaoh's slavery, a blind man healed on the roadside, a crowd fed by some bread and fish, and God's vindication of Jesus by raising him from the dead.

And I am just one story in sixty billion who have lived and died, but I too have experienced deliverance from sin, brokenness and chaos.  An envelope in my journal reads: Finally, this envelope is for testimony to God's deliverance, private and corporate, big and small, understood and confusing.

Confusing deliverance was surviving a car accident that killed eight friends (who would have changed the world) and left others with long-lasting injuries while I had only a few scars but wished I was dead.  The pain of the stitches holding my life together almost two years ago was too great, the sense of looming chaos terrified me, and I believed I would sob myself to hysteria and death.

Maybe I had been rescued from Egypt's slavery, but I now faced the harsh desert of fear and grief, and I was alone.  I didn't understand why I had been 'delivered' into such loss and disappointment.  I did not want this deliverance and I decided I would have been better off dead.

It was as if God welcomed my newborn of grace, resurrection and being alive onto my chest and I turned away in disgust.

But God is ruthlessly committed to deliver us.  He's the great midwife calling forth birth and rebirth, sweat on his brow, our blood on Her hands, a terrible pain in His womb.  Our deliverance comes in forms we don't want sometimes, or at a price we are not willing to pay.  It often involves death to ourselves, to old habits and patterns that enslave us.  Or maybe our deliverance, like a female babe from God's imagination, is not what our culture says we need.  We are desperate for a boy to carry us into the future and God shows us the face of a precious little girl.

God was steadfast with grace that enabled me to stay in my pain, wide awake, for months and little by little I began to embrace my deliverance and to heal.  It was like the undeniable, unstoppable deliverance of creation from winter's death by the slow, thawing grace of spring.  Not easy to mark, but salvific and deeply felt.

Some slips of paper in my 'delivery' envelope help me remember.
14 June 'when I sing, I'm thankful to be alive.'
31 Aug 'Being overwhelmed by how much healing has come to my body, my heart, my mind—overwhelmed to tears.'
11 Oct. 'Teaching community health workers in North Africa.  Loving it.'
2 Jan. 'Seeing Pushpala and her family so happy to leave the postnatal ward with their new baby girl.'

I see moms bring forth these tiny humans with eternal spirits.  I see this.  I touch this.  I take hold of this in my heart.  Deliverance.

Unto us a child is born.


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