My husband and I were recently blessed with our fourth grandchild. It was a dramatic event: by the grace of God, a Caesarean section was conducted just in time to avoid a situation that would have threatened the lives of both mother and baby. We are beyond grateful for the Lord’s sovereign mercy and grace that were so evident on the evening of July 12.
The stress regarding this grandchild, though, started a few weeks before her birth. The baby’s parents had decided to try a home birth with a midwife, and they had asked us to take child care responsibilities for their 18-monthy-old son as well as cover any support duty needed. We were thrilled at the prospect of participating in such a special event even though it meant running to Massachusetts at a moment’s notice.
The original due date was June 22, and so by early June I was as packed and ready as I could be: clothes for us, food for the new parents, new toys for the big brother. I had my cell phone with me and on at all times, and the stop, drop, and roll drill (stop what we’re doing; drop everything, roll up to Massachusetts!) was never far from my mind. June 22 came and went. Our other son and his family came to visit, expecting to meet the latest addition to the family; they left a week later—on July 11—disappointed. As the days and weeks passed, the pressure became increasingly intense, and I could not help but compare waiting for the coming of this baby to the coming of Christ.
The Bible is quite clear: Christ will return. Matthew records Christ’s admonition in Chapter 25: we are the bride waiting for the groom: we are to be ready and waiting, with lamps lit at all times, even if the bridegroom delays. It is essential to remain alert and prepared to avoid missing the Event.
And I now understand better than before that it is hard to wait and remain prepared. Waiting and watching take focus and energy, and it is easy to become distracted or grow weary. But I also understand better than before that the waiting and watching comprise a small price to pay in order to be able to attend the party. In our busy lives—even lives filled with prayer and God-focus—it is easy to lose sight of the Bridegroom and the initiation of His kingdom.
The truth is that maintaining a fixed gaze on the horizon of the Lord’s coming is essential not only so that we can join the party in heaven but also to inform our day-to-days lives of faith. Maternal care during pregnancy and preparations for birth are conducted to achieve the end goal of a safe delivery of a healthy baby. I packed for Massachusetts and listened for my cell phone because I knew the end was in sight. And even though we do not know when our Lord will return, our efforts to serve the Lord must look toward the end goal: the culmination of the new covenant initiated by Christ and the establishment of His eternal kingdom.
To be sure, our waiting for The Call was different from waiting for Christ’s return. My Massachusetts preparations had to take into account my responsibilities at home and a return to “normal” life. When Christ comes, our earthly responsibilities and what we see as normal life will be irrelevant. Still, I cannot ignore this lesson: our lives on this side of the kingdom must include prayerful, watchful waiting. Come, Lord Jesus!