Devotion for the Week...
Nathan is counting down the days to his birthday (March 21). Every morning when he wakes up he goes to the calendar on the fridge and counts all the little squares and then gives me an update. He'll be 6 this year.
Which means at this time six years ago I was hugely pregnant. That big belly made everything difficult. Do you remember those days? Zachary was still young enough he wanted me to crawl around on the floor playing cars. Getting down there was hard. Getting back up was almost impossible! My back ached, especially when I spent time cooking or washing dishes. As for driving...well, the snowbanks at the end of our driveway made it like driving out of a tunnel, and leaning that far forward to see out onto the road was actually painful. Add to that my own quirky pregnancy symptom - a heart rate that would suddenly zoom up to 120 for no apparent reason - and the exhaustion that comes from carrying one child while caring for two others, and you can understand why I was ready for this baby to be born!
I paid attention to every little twinge and ache in my abdomen. I found myself planning the meals for the week and thinking "will I go into labor before we get to eat this?" One afternoon I made cookies and I tried to figure out how long it would take my husband to get home from work if I had to call him to come take me to the hospital...would we be ready to go before the cookies finished baking?
Jesus told His followers to watch for His return with the same sense of urgency. At the end of the parable of the ten virgins, He says, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour" (Matthew 25:13). He also warns, "So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him" (Matthew 24:44). We are to be ready, to be eagerly anticipating His return.
Unfortunately, the middle of March 2008 produced an abundance of snowstorms that threatened my sanity. We live two hours from the nearest delivery room, so seeing the word 'blizzard' in the forecast made me nervous. I remember people stopping me the morning after yet another storm, saying, "I thought of you last night, hoping you wouldn't have the baby then."
I had been thinking the same thing, telling the baby, "Wait a little longer, not yet, it's not a good time." I still paid attention to every ache, I was still desperate to regain possession of my body, but oh, how I hoped to wait until the skies were clear and the roads safe.
I have a tendency to view Jesus' return in the same way. How awesome will it be to stand in His presence? To actually see His face and worship Him, knowing that all sickness, fear and death are behind us? And yet my soul cries out, "Not yet! Please wait!" There are so many I care about who do not know Jesus, who would not spend eternity with Him if He were to come today.
For that reason, one of my favourite Scripture verses is 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." I cling to His patience. I thank Him for His patience and pray it will continue until I see people I love turn their hearts and lives over to Him.
I had no control over when I went into labor, just as I have no control over when Jesus will come back for His church. I had no control over the weather, just as I have no control over other people's response to Jesus. I can only wait and pray.
As for Nathan, he kindly waited until a rainy Friday morning. Good Friday, as it turned out, making it a very good Friday indeed.