Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I'm a Grandfather!

Yesterday my first grandchild was born – Luke Wesley denBok. He came into the world amid a flurry of activity and mixed emotions, as life’s complications threatened to deprive us of the sheer joy of the moment. But into this world he came, ready or not.

His birth, to me, was like a microcosm of life. There were risks involved, the mid-wife was concerned for his well-being and a Caesarean Section was considered. Family members were all dealing with their own lives and problems, while trying to play their part and support the new Mom and Dad and baby. This new little one is absolutely an intrusion, but such a welcome one.

He entered the world and was immediately surrounded by people who love him – first his Mom; then Dad; then Mom’s family; then Dad’s family. And on it goes in expanding concentric circles. It is as it should be. Sharing the joy of a new life is good for the soul.

Upon reflection, what strikes me is the importance of each individual. I mean, we are all part of the “human race,” but that is such an impersonal thing. The Psalmist writes of God: “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” This is true of every individual. Each human being is precious to God; created on purpose and by design.

As such we are all worthy of dignity, each endowed by our Creator with an innate worth. We know that intuitively (or should) when a child is born, but I think we forget that sometimes when people get a little older. We see the extreme value that each of us has in the willingness of Christ to sacrifice His own life for our sake. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

So, everyone is someone for whom Christ died. The child born in a mud hut in Africa has every bit as much value as my grandson born in a modern hospital. The prostitute working a street corner in Los Angeles is loved by God just as much as the deacon in the three piece suit at First Church on Sunday.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ response when asked: what was the greatest command? He replied, in short, that we are to love God and love people. He also said that if we have done it (visited, clothed, fed, etc...) unto the least of these we’ve done it to Him. In other words, our love for God will be reflected in our love for people.

I read a good example of this in Bill Hybels’ book, “Who You Are When No One’s Looking.” He said that he “read of a doctor who spends his Wednesday afternoons hanging out with a dozen homeless people. He talks with them and laughs with them and gives them medical treatment when they need it. One week, one of the homeless men missed the Wednesday meeting because he could barely walk. So the wealthy, well-trained suburban doctor went to find the guy; he sat him down and gently pried off the homeless man’s shoes and socks. What he found underneath were feet badly bruised, blistered and infected. There, in a public place, the doctor sat down on the floor, bathed the man’s sore feet, dressed the wounds and prayed for the man’s comfort.”

I would like to be like that. I’m afraid I have a long way to go. My grandson is one day old, and already I’d do anything for him. I feel the same about all of my family. But everybody is somebody for whom Christ died. Everyone is worthy of love and dignity. I’m trying to develop a heart for others; to learn to love ordinary people the way that God loves me. After all, as someone said, the entire world, with one trifling exception, consists of others. People matter, all of them, large and small. 

Perhaps I'll get there. I hope so. The world would be a better place if more people loved like that. In the meantime, I'm thankful for a special gift from God. Welcome to the world, Luke Wesley denBok, God has big plans for you.