Friday, July 26, 2013

Life on the inside

Psalm 139:16 (NIV)

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
I typed the words “predestination free will” into Google, and in a quarter of a second it returned about 1.02 million results. There is no Earthly way I’m attempting to enter that conversation on this or any other night. The half-dozen classes I took in pursuit of a religion minor at college don’t exactly position me as an authority on the subject. I do look forward to discussing it with my kids some day, because for them to ask the question would show a deep interest in something outside their own domain. But until then…

Neither am I going to get into the debate over when life begins. I would much rather try to hammer out predestination and free will. But I will say this: My wife is pregnant with our fourth son. He is due to arrive in a bit less than 11 weeks, and chances are it won’t take that long given his size. That length of time seems at once like tomorrow and forever, which I am pretty sure is a duality that never changes no matter how many babies your wife grows.

And although I have long felt like the father of four children even though only three of them have seen the light of day, when we count the days of a person’s life (we being the government, I guess), we don’t start until they are exposed to the elements. But I do believe, somehow, God is at work in the “unformed body” referenced in the Psalm. Not one of Baby Four’s days (we’re also using Floyd as a signifier) has come to be — but that’s only in the eyes of humanity.

I am, of course, anxious to meet the kid — all in due time. I’m not jealous of God, the creator of the universe, for whatever might already be known about this young life. But when I read something like this verse, I can’t help but think of the little man on the inside. What sounds can he hear? Unlike Jack, who listened to an unfathomable about of beginning band rehearsals, the soundtrack of Kristie’s life now is our three sons, who are routinely louder than most rock concerts or space shuttle launches. And that’s before we take them to the theme park.

What does the food taste like in there? Probably nothing, given what I know about umbilical cords. But still, Kristie is eating white flesh peaches as if she were given a bonus for each one — and though we’ve been together nearly 15 years, I can count on one hand the number of peaches I’d seen her eat before Independence Day. She’s also drinking coffee now, a habit she didn’t pick up until after Charlie was born.

Can he tell how hot it’s been out here the last few weeks? Does he, like his mother, feel a million times better when the window air-conditioner in our bedroom gets the temperature into the low 60s? Does he know when he’s leaning funny on a rib and keeping her up all hours of the night? Did he notice how I started saying “y’all” indiscriminately the entire time we were on vacation in Nashville? Does he care we have no clue what his first name will be?

I know absolutely nothing about this particular bundle of joy except he is ours, he is, for now, quite big for his age, and as much as I think my heart has already grown to love him, that will change exponentially the second I see his face for the first time. God, I am absolutely certain, knows more than me. I don’t know how much more, nor do I care. Our family is growing and that is a boundless joy in and of itself.

A prayer for July 26:

Lord, you know me better than I know myself. You know not just who I am today, but who I can truly become if I open myself fully to your will. You alone can unlock the best version of my being if I will agree to go where you lead me. Please, take me to that place, wherever it may me. Walk beside me all the way. I want to stay close to you, to never fall a step behind. I hope to have many more days in this life, and I want to make the best use of them possible, through you alone. Amen.

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