I attended a baby shower today. Half of us were guys, so I was not too wierd. I liked it, and was one of only two guys who hung around for the gift-opening part, so it was pretty wierd after all, but we've already established that I think half-femininely anyway. I won my game of 8-ball, so I established some macho cred, anyway.
I even shopped for my own gift for this shower. Went to Babies R Us, and printed out the registry, no less. Of course, I picked out 3 possibilities for gifts off the registry that I would like to bring (sorry, I'm not quite man enough to bring the ultra-cute onesies that dominated the list) and found out that everything I picked was stuff not actually in the store. Ain't that the way it goes? So, I wimped out and bought a gift card. And the Lion's something or other picture bible. It's supposed to be pretty solid. I liked the look of it.
I tried - really!
Whilst there, I met all sorts of my coworkers' spouses. One particularly young couple was going on about how they were not going to have children for a LONG time. I found it heartbreaking to hear that. Really. They are a cute couple, and smart as whips. They would make cute kids. When I grew up, if you didn't have kids, it was probably because you were afraid your marriage was not going to make it, and you didn't want the escape hatch to close behind you. I doubt these two were in that position, so it was really, really heartbreaking to think that they didn't want kids just because they didn't want kids. They wanted to see the world, and kids would get in the way.
Like any good Jewish grandmother who happened to be possessing the body of a professional computer programmer, I started working on them.
They had been told by all their friends that any time they happened to start weakening, and thinking they might want to try the whole baby thing, they would let them babysit for a while. THAT would change their minds. I swatted that away. 18 years I had been a father, and every month was a treasure - far more than "worth it." Not necessarily every day, mind you, but every month. :-)
Then came the crusher. They were going to let her visit the delivery room. That would most assuredly keep her from EVER thinking about having one of her own. I could not have disagreed more strenuously. There's pain and there's blood, but that room, of all rooms, would make them decide to have a baby tomorrow.
Yeah, I got some wierd looks.
Yeah, I was in my element.
I told them, "When it's all over, there is a living human being with hands the size of my pinkie finger - perfectly formed. The whole baby practically fits into my hand. And that itty-bitty little character has opinions! And he expects them to be obeyed!"
"Sure," they said, "he's mad. It was warm and happy, and now it's loud, bright, cold, and miserable."
I agreed, but undissuaded, I went on.
"Yes, he's terrified and unhappy, but then you snuggle him up to his mother, and he's comforted.
I repeated, "That little person is comforted."
Honestly, I had to stop then because someone got emotional. And really, what could possibly be more emotional?
It's the most amazing thing in the world to watch the first time a baby nurses. And the first time a mother nurses a baby. It breaks my heart to hear a young lady reject that moment for Acapulco and the 9-5 grind. We may be doomed.
But, I was talking about pleasing God, wasn't I?
A decade, two decades and a half a decade ago, a seven year old boy was running around being a seven year old boy. Some might say that he had not even sinned yet, at least not accountably. He would differ. He kept his mom pretty happy, though, and managed to fit in as much fun as daylight would allow, but there was nothing special about him.
That boy heard the gospel, and started trying to keep God happy, just like he kept his mom happy. Something of spiritual life had been conceived in him. He started faintly hearing the heartbeat of God, and the whooshing of spiritual things in his ears. He started going to church, and learning bible stories. He even figured he was doing pretty good at it. God must have been pretty happy.
Then one day he heard about sin. But, he heard about it from a new place. The pastor was preaching, just like every Sunday night, but this time the words about sin came from inside his heart.
Suddenly, the world was a cold and miserable place. There was a fiery bright light exposing everything about himself, the coldness of his stark nakedness, and the need to breathe was heavy on him.
He went to the front of the church to weep. He cried for what seemed like forever, but it really wasn't. Soon, in the gentlest of tones a sweet voice he'd only barely yet gotten to know whispered to him, "I'm here." From the very first instant, he knew his Father's voice, and he was comforted.
And just like that, the boy had survived being born from above. The seven-year old boy was now a ten minute old Christian, too.
The Father nursed that boy, and He's kept him alive through each of the shocks of life since.
Oh yeah. Wasn't I talking about pleasing God?
I've enjoyed writing those two stories so much, I almost hate to be so mundane as to write a conclusion for them. But, I suppose it ought to be done. If the Lord is kind, I won't ruin the stories with their moral, but have mercy on me.
My babies were perfect. Their sleep and their tears and their anger were all beautiful. When they started giggling, their rapturous perfection was only improved upon. Yes, they woke us up in the middle of the night and exhausted us and did truly amazing things to diapers. Yes, they confused us and scared us and drove us to snap at each other over the littlest things. I have not forgotten any of that, but I remember the glory that they were alive. Really and truly alive.
She was 22 inches long, and I understood her. She was like me. She felt like I would feel, and acted like I would act if I were a week or a month old, and only 22 inches tall. I was bonding and learning to love someONE, not something, and it was glorious.
She did nothing with the intent to please me.
She was utterly selfish, in a way that is so purely selfish as to be beyond describing. And it didn't matter. I could go on about her like this for paragraphs, but I have to drive past it.
My cats try to please me, and they fail. She did not try at all, and she succeeded completely.
My cats know how to warm up to me, but they don't love me. She didn't know anything about warming up to me or loving me, either one, but she won my heart forever.
Yes, we can please God.
We can come to Him as exactly who we are, and please Him, because we are kind of His kind. We are born of Spirit, and it is as natural for us to please Him as it is for my daughter to please me.
And it is natural for Him to be pleased in us.