I’m breaking my normal schedule of blogging to report some wonderful news. I’m delighted to say that my firstborn, a son, was born to Lucy and me yesterday morning. Welcome, Ethan Joseph Harvey. The first two clauses of Isaiah 9:6 are true for us, even if the rest isn’t…
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given”
I’ve been a father more many months, but now it’s true in a much more real sense. I’ve experienced some extraordinary emotions: shock and wonderment at seeing him emerge, concern and protectiveness as I hovered over a premature infant, joy as I held him for the first time, loss and surreal disbelief as he was taken from us to neo-natal care, and, most strongly of all, fatherly affection as I held his sleeping form against my bare chest. I’ve known what it is to love a mother, father, brother, sister, wife, family and friends, but this was new, and powerful. Suddenly I had an insight into the Father heart of God, a new understanding of how He feels about us that I couldn’t have conceived of before.
So I’m a proud father, and a proud husband, marvelling at how well Lucy coped with some extraordinary pain and changes. I’d also like to say how grateful I am for the loving support of our church family, who’ve taken care of us superbly ever since the prospect of a premature birth first arose. Whether cooking for us, visiting us, hanging out our washing, driving us to appointments, painting the nursery for us or just by praying and encouraging, Cambridge Community Church have loved us beautifully. Quite apart from the tremendous blessing to ourselves, this Christ-inspired love in action is an eloquent witness to those who don’t know Jesus for themselves: this is how church is supposed to be done; this is what it means to be Christian.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Looking back, I can scarcely believe what I’ve accomplished recently. In the last 8 months I’ve started a new job, trekked rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon, bought a house and had a baby. Not to mention fundraising, decorating and blogging, amongst much else. Life has gone into superdrive since the middle of 2014, and we’ve been living at a thousand miles an hour. I’ve carved out this time to pause, draw breath, and reflect.
Life is unlikely to slow down, not with a baby in the house, and sleepless nights will deprive us of a lot of the strength with which to continue dashing round. Which makes me wonder if we need to. Modern life is busier than ever, driven by the power of instantaneous communications and purchasing power, but how much of it, honestly, is necessary? If Jesus says in Matthew 11:30 that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light”, then we may be sure that nothing He asks of us is too much for us. Only those things we do in addition or contrary to God’s designs and desires burden us and make us run down.
Luke 10 contains a charming and challenging story of two sisters who reacted to the presence of Jesus in very different ways. Martha rushed around, serving and making ‘all the preparations’; but Mary ‘sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.’ Since so many of us, including myself, are Marthas, we would do well to take seriously what Jesus said in response to Martha’s complaint about Mary’s inaction:
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42)
Jesus reminds us here that quietness and rest are important, that spending time with Him is paramount. Today that means reading the Bible, praying and listening to God’s voice. This is my resolve for the coming weeks and months, and the example I wish to give to my son. And in so doing, as the unnecessary hubbub of the world fades away, I will hear the Father’s voice saying:
“You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)
What God said of Jesus, He says to me, and I now say to Ethan.