Very early this morning I awoke to pains resembling labor, only it was just short term indigestion. Never the less, it left me awake and with some adrenaline to insure I didn't fall back asleep. Memories flooded my mind of the two births I'd already walked through and then gave anticipation towards the pending birth of our daughter. As I lay awake, I meditated on the vast differences between the births of my two boys. Then in the quiet, the Lord showed me Himself through those trials of labor. A labor of love which I willingly accepted.
Drew's birth was my hardest, I'd spent 3 months cooped up in bed, no birthing classes, nothing to prepare me to labor - after all I'd spent 3 months keeping myself out of labor, what would make me think of preparing for the actual event? It seems silly now, but at the time I was so consumed with all the things I couldn't do that I forgot to focus on the things I could do. So when the anticipated day, that 24th day of January, arrived I knew due to the baby's lack of movements that we were going to deliver. John and I anxiously listened to the doctors words, I removed the trebulatine pump which had kept contractions at bay for 10 weeks with gladness! The effects, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, shortness of breath, would continue for another 24 hours! Drew's birth was a roller coaster of nerves, I was induced with petocin and waited. Nothing happened for an hour, but once my water broke I went from 5 to 10 centimeters in 10 minutes. One minute I was falsely believing that labor was easy, the next in severe pain. What I didn't know was that Drew wasn't quite straight in the birth canal and I was having back labor. I also didn't know you could have contractions that were double peeking - one contraction would build and then another would take its place. I had no rest between contractions, they all rolled into one painful event. Thank the Lord the trial only lasted about 10-15 minutes, then our beautiful baby boy emerged perfect and healthy. It was a day I'll never forget!
For Gabe's birth, I was more prepared on that November day - determined I wasn't going to be in the hospital over my favorite holiday! I made sure that I didn't have high doses of petocin in my system and I didn't even have a terb pump; that made things much simpler. After the doctor broke my water and I was started on a low drip of petocin I started to have real contractions -the kind that roll up and then end! I felt more like I was in a marathon, each break I was preparing for the next leg of the race. I could focus on my breathing, concentrate on my body's response and move positions to accommodate. It was a wonderful birth because I was prepared, I'd done this before, I knew what was around the corner. I knew those feelings and urges and also knew that I was almost done. Our little Gabe was born in about 20 minutes and 2-3 pushes. He came out peaceful and didn't even cry right away, just stared at his new world and took everything in. Much like he takes on life today.
Then the Lord showed me that the trials I've experienced in my 7 years of marriage are much like my labor of love delivering my boys. The first part of our marriage I wasn't at all prepared for. The trials came and I wasn't ready. I had double peaking trials - one set allowed by God to strengthen; the other set brought on by my own sin. The weight of those trial seemed too much to bare some days; I knew that the Lord was there - but I was still learning how to have an intimate relationship with my Father. It was a rough climb out of that desert. I remember many days when all I could do to keep from crying was to repeat Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The Lord was so near in those times, even though I didn't feel like it. He walked with me and challenged me in the areas of my faith which were lacking. It spurred me on to acknowledge my sins and then set things back in order by repenting and changing my behavior. Those double-peaking trials in my early marriage were such a blessing - they forced me (John too!) to go through the hard work of paying of debt, saving, waiting on the Lord for provision, and also taught us how to pray. I began to see that my journey on this earth wasn't for my convenience (still learning this every day!), its a laying down of my own selfishness, changing into the likeness of my covenant partner Jesus Christ. That confessing to be a follower of Christ means laying down my own life, my own agenda and taking steps to obey the sacred love letter of God - the Bible.
Gabe's birth taught me that I needed to be prepared. I do know that trials will come, they must come in order to grow into the likeness of my Father (James 1). But there is a difference in allowing the Lord to refine me through His trials and reaping the discipline of my own disobedience. I learned that it is so much more intimate a walk, when the trials are not of my own doing. In the bible study on Covenant that I'm presently working through, I've learned so much about the Holiness of God and His immutability - unchanging nature (Mal 3:6). This sacred oath which I have made with God, who can not lie or change, is binding forever and into eternity. My life in Christ, as Kay Arthur says is. "A walk unto death." A death to my old self and the acceptance of Christ's identity which will change my entire being. It is a life of change which involves a deep intimate relationship with Jehovah -- nothing within me should look like my old self because I have cut covenant with Christ and accepted His identity. In exchange Christ took on my sin-filled identity and crucified it on the cross, so I can posses intimacy and direct representation with God. I'm learning what God sacrificed for communion with me - with all mankind who choose to take on such a covenant. This covenant is sacred, eternal, unchanging, and binding forever - change isn't optional it is a bi-product of walking into such a covenant. Something I haven't always taken seriously in my 15 years as a Believer.
Being a Christ follower isn't just a one time prayer, a decision to get baptized, a quick fix to my problems - it is a sacred and holy covenant - "A Walk Into Death." A dieing to myself. A hard road, a labor of love towards daily, moment by moment change.
The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.
~Charles Spurgeon 1855