I reckon my unborn baby knows God. In fact, I’m sure of it. Whenever we go into church and start worshipping, the baby begins kicking with a will. Without fail. Even more than he does when I read to him. Though still in the womb, he’s surrounded by a loving family and music and the sound of singing, and I think he’s aware of the presence of God. He kicks and moves at other times of course, but never with such predictable regularity as when we take him into Cambridge Community Church. This delights me more than I can say.
In fact, Lucy even told me of an incident last weekend when she was in another church listening to a very waffly sermon. The baby inside her was motionless through all the waffle, and then suddenly kicked decisively when the preacher eventually reached an important point about God. Apparently more waffle followed, and the baby again was unimpressed.
There is a story recorded of another baby that knew God. In Luke chapter 1 verses 40 and 44, we’re told that Elizabeth’s baby ‘leaped in her womb’, ‘leaped for joy’ when he heard the voice of Mary. That baby knew that someone special had come, someone who had a divine presence in her womb. That baby grew up to be John the Baptist, and he knew God. He knew Him right from the start.
I hope my boy grows up to know God, that these early signs of familiarity with Him form the foundation of a lifelong relationship, just as they did with John.
I have other reasons for thinking that my baby knows God. Psalm 139 contains some of the most beautiful words ever written…
“For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was made in the secret place,
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
All the days ordained for me were written in Your book
Before one of them came to be.” (vv. 13-16)
God is with my baby in the womb. He is creating his inmost being. He is knitting him together in Lucy’s womb. His frame is not hidden from God; his unformed body was seen by Him from the start. In our two antenatal scans we have seen glimpses, but no science or technology can penetrate the ‘secret place’ where there is unspoken intimacy between God and human, between Creator and creation.
These beautiful words make it absolutely clear that God knows the unborn child – which undoubtedly has profound implications for the sanctity of life and issues like abortion – but they also tantalise me with the slightest suggestion that the unborn child knows God as well. Who knows what thoughts manifest themselves in an unborn’s consciousness? But for a child to physically respond to God’s presence, both in Scripture and in my own experience, there must be some two-way connection. Somehow, somewhere in that ‘inmost being’, my son is attuned to God.
And I hope that my son is one of those chosen in Jesus Christ ‘before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight’ (Ephesians 1:4), one of those blessed people like myself and my wife to have been predestined for relationship with God (Romans 8:29). These are staggering thoughts and beyond my full understanding, but I realise enough to hope for them. Whatever my son already knows of God, or knows from birth, I will do my utmost to teach him more, and to bring him to know the God who created him, loves him, and died for him.
Some may think these ideas are nonsense, the fanciful imaginings of a deluded father-to-be. Let them think that. I think otherwise. These ideas make me love my child even more than before. They draw me back to the deepest essence of relationship with God. We should not be too quick to dismiss a relationship with God that cannot be expressed or articulated. This applies not just to unborn babies, but to people with mental illnesses, severe disabilities and even those so isolated from western culture that they have never heard the message of Jesus. Are these people beyond God’s reach? By no means. He knows them, and I believe they are all, in their own ways, able to know Him.
And if there is a meaning, a significance, a joy to life, it is this: to know God, and be known by Him.