Little man's profile at 20 weeks old
This is the first command that God issues to man, generations before the Ten Commandments were handed to Moses. It is simple, but profound. Children throughout the Bible are seen as a blessing, a gift, a miracle. The most pivotal men in salvation history are those whose conception, birth, or childhood are miraculous--Issac, Moses, Samuel, John the Baptist, Christ. In so many instances, when God wished to bless the world it was through the birth of a child.
In our times, the debate of what constitutes life has led us to question the worth of children. However, I would argue that everything hinges on how we view children born and in utero. A person's outlook on the entire world, is built on that single idea because all of Creation past and future has depended upon a child's birth.
There are many customs surrounding gifts and it is universally accepted that a gift is something that is graciously received. To question or refuse a gift, is not readily tolerated around the globe. Gifts are not always the perfect fit or style; they may be delayed or repeats of what you already posses, but as the saying goes, "It's the thought that counts." The thought, the idea, the action of bringing a feeling of wanting to gift something to fruition. Much as Creation was considered and then spoken into being.
When children are seen as a gift, each and every person is celebrated, no matter his size, color, fit or style. Gifts are cherished, handled gently, kept safe and thought of fondly. Gifts are hoped for but not demanded, gifts may be wished for but are always a surprise until unwrapped. A gift is meant to mark a special occasion or say you are special, you are loved, you have meaning. A gift can be returned or re-gifted (as in miscarriage and adoption), but that doesn't change that you have been given it. Gifts bring joy to both the giver and the recipient and even if you are in need of nothing a gift is always welcome because of how it touches your heart; likewise if you have nothing, even an impractical gift is a ray of light and hope in your darkness.
A choice can be wrong, can be debated, can be denounced. Choices can be regretted or second-guessed. Everyone makes choices differently, even at different stages of life. Choices can be coerced or abandoned. Choices can be celebrated, but also reviled. Choices can be rationalized or trivialized, hidden or denied. Choices are something that must be done, but range from the mundane of which socks to wear to the extraordinary of dedicating your life to finding a cure for cancer.
How you see life, every life, even the smallest, shapes how you see each person. If every human began was a thoughtful gift, no matter the circumstance of it's arrival or delivery, then everyone deserves to be cherish and handled gently--from the screaming newborn at 2 AM to the feeble and incapable senior citizen, from the handicapped boy to the injured veteran. It all begins with how we see the source of life. Yes, there are biological processes and we understand astutely the exact step by step procedure for a new being to be--but who created those steps and procedures? The same God who created it all. (Wouldn't we as a culture be more mindful of how we used those processes, too, if we truly all believed that they were a gateway to a gift not just a momentary choice?) He breathed His own breath into the first man, the same as he breathed an immortal soul into each and every person ever conceived in a mother's womb. The rest of creation, God spoke into being, but man He formed with His own Hands. Why? Because where to divide the waters and the land, how to light the day and the night, what creatures should roam the Earth and swim in the sea; those are all choices, and who among us has not lamented the sun setting or rising too soon, the sting of a mosquito or damage of a rodent. However, man, he was a gift and like all the best gifts he was well planned, thoughtful, and hand delivered. And if that weren't enough, the first and ultimate gift of Christmas was a child conceived by an unwed teen, born in a filthy stable to parents who had nothing to offer but love--imagine if we had chosen to refuse that gift!
Please come back tomorrow (or subscribe to have updates delivered to your inbox) for the second half of this article on teaching our children to love life, for that is at the heart of how we serve and worship our God--the Creator and Lover of life itself!
Buddy meeting Little Man for the first time.