Lord, thank You! Ten days ago, You made me the proud parent of a beautiful baby girl—Talitha Lou Clare. The time seems to have gone by in a blur and yet I feel like these ten days with Talitha have taught me much already …
1. about Your Parenthood:
I love Tali. When I look at Tali, when I hold her in my arms, my heart is set ablaze with wonder. Just the sight of her fills me with delight. Yet what has she done to deserve that love? Nothing. She may share my genes, but the truth is that I barely know her. I love Tali simply by virtue of her being my daughter. How much greater, then, is Your love for us, for me? It’s hard to fathom that You should delight in me the way I delight in Tali. You love me and delight in me, not for anything I can give You, not for anything I can do, but simply by virtue of being Your child, one made in Your image. Sometimes I forget that. I haven’t yet fully understood that You love me simply because I’m Your son. In the same way, You love Tali simply because she’s Tali. May my love for her mirror Your love for me.
2. about Your love for me:
True love, the love You have for me, is unconditional. Since I first read through the Bible as a teenager, I have always been struck by the verse in Proverbs which says, “What a person desires is unfailing love” (19:22 NIV). It’s so true. It’s what I desire. It’s what I’ve found in You. I was reminded of this verse a few nights ago when I was up with Tali in the wee small hours changing a dirty nappy and got peed on in the process. Somehow that experience seemed to give me a pretty good glimpse of what it means to love unconditionally—the way You love me. In Christ, You came to do something about the filth we’re living in and You got peed on (metaphorically speaking) in the process. Give me love like that, I pray.
3. about what it means to praise You:
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past week and a half looking at Tali and remarking on how beautiful she is. I can’t help but adore her. As I gaze on her, I marvel at everything from the colour of her eyes to the softness of her skin to the size of her little feet. I notice things about her and they lead me to praise her. I don’t feel like I’m very good at praising You, Lord. Maybe, though, that’s just because I don’t spend enough time looking at You. How much more would I praise You if only I determined to dwell on You more? As Moses so boldly asked, so do I: “Show me Your glory!” (Ex. 33:18)
4. about the weakness of the flesh:
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Having a child makes me feel much more empathetic towards Peter and the other disciples when they were asked to keep watch and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. In days gone by, there have been plenty of evenings when I have tried to stay awake with Angie as she’s been feeding Tali or as I’m trying to rock Tali in my arms and found myself drifting off to sleep. I’m just so tired. The fact is that I’m simply not as strong as I often like to think I am. I am one in need of grace.
5. about my need for grace:
Tali’s arrival has inevitably led to plenty of disruption of a night time, which in turn has left us tired, fuzzy headed and prone to irritation. Sleep deprivation has made me clumsier, more forgetful and less patient. Last night, I was trying to give my son his dinner and dropped his bowl of pasta upside straight onto the placemat. My wife asked me to cut up some bread to go with dinner; thirty seconds later, I’d completely forgotten. The night before that, when my son Jed was having a hard time falling asleep, my forbearance with him was being pushed faster and further even than normal. It’s fair to say, tiredness doesn’t bring out the best in me (or many people, I expect, for that matter). All of which makes me acutely aware of how much grace Angie and I need to give each other, giving each other the leeway and understanding we’d like the other to give us. Knowing my own acute need for grace, Lord, grant that I may learn to be more gracious to others and make greater allowances for human weakness.
6. about my sinfulness:
Lord, I know that I am a sinner. Nothing helps reveal the fundamental disposition of my soul to self-seeking than throwing in an extra person to live with us, especially an extra person who demands so much of my care and attention. Tali’s presence with us helps remind me that the world does not revolve around me, and nor should it. Father, forgive me and heal me of my selfishness.
7. about love being love in action:
Loving Tali involves me in serving Tali’s needs. Over these past ten days, I have seen much more clearly how love has to be love in action. A loving feeling or a loving sentiment is all well and good, but the love Tali needs is the love which will feed her, change her, dress her, hold her, rock her to sleep, and so on. And what’s more, love in action is often quite inconvenient. I’m reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. I’m sure it wasn’t convenient for the Samaritan to interrupt his journey, pour out his oil and wine, make impromptu bandages from his clothes, give up his comfortable donkey ride, spend a night nursing a badly injured man, and then write a blank cheque for the man’s recovery. Yet such is Your love for me. Teach me more through Tali how to delight in being inconvenienced for the sake of love.
8. about the dignity of all people:
As I write this, Talitha is fast asleep on my shoulder. I hear her delicate snoring. I feel the soft and gentle rise and fall of her chest against mine as she breathes. She is so small (7lb 4oz when she was born). In the scheme of things, her life seems so inconsequential. “What is man that you are mindful of him?” the psalmist asked (Ps. 8:4). And yet, I’m reminded of those wonderful words of C. S. Lewis, that there are no ordinary people, only immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. The fact is that as Tali’s slender frame rests on me so blissfully unaware of me writing this, I am conscious that I bear the incomparably weight of an immortal soul on me. Indeed, this little lady is so very precious to you that your Son Jesus died on the Cross for love of her. There is no human life which He did not esteem high enough to redeem at the price of His own blood. Grant me grace, O Lord, to remember that and throughout her life to take Tali as seriously as You take her.
9. about Your knowledge of us:
Talitha Lou Clare Harvey is Yours before she is mine. It is amazing to me that ten days ago, I didn’t know Tali. I knew she was there (she would give her Mommy the occasional kick from the womb which I might feel), but that’s it. I didn’t know she was a she. I didn’t know she was a Tali. After ten days with Tali, there is still so much for me to learn. I feel like she’s growing up too quickly. I have so much more to learn about her. How great it is that as I, her earthly Daddy, struggle to interpret the reasons for her stirrings, You, her heavenly Daddy, understand each and every tiny little cry perfectly. Nothing about her is hidden from You. Her frame was not hidden from You in the womb and it isn’t now. You knew her before we even knew she had been conceived. You watched on as her heart struck its first beat. You counted one by one as each new hair was added to her head. You know Tali through and through. She is Yours. Lord, give me grace to remember that and to teach her that, so that she might know it for herself.
10. about the Incarnation:
When I look at baby Talitha, I see someone so weak, so needy, so defenceless, small and vulnerable. How reckless, how audacious, how daring, therefore, was the Incarnation! The whole enterprise was fraught with danger, with risk, with the very real possibility of failure. Human life is so fragile. How is it then that the One to whom all creation looks for life, should look to one of His creatures to give Him life? How is it that the Source and Spring of all life should imperil that same all-creating Life in the dangers of childbirth? How is it that the only truly independent and self-sustaining Being in the universe should choose to become dependent to such an extent as a baby is dependent on a mother’s sustaining? I am reminded of those ancient words of the Te Deum in the Book of Common Prayer: “When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.” Well You might have done, though. Those wonderful words of Charles Wesley say it all: “Our God contracted to a span, Incomprehensibly made man.” The boldness of the Incarnation is truly incomprehensible. That the Lord of all, who wants for nothing, should condescend to cry for milk at a poor mother’s breast in order to rescue us from our sin only goes to show how desperately You love us. Lord, let me humbled anew by the great depths You plumbed in order to redeem unworthy people like me.
Gracious God, thank You for Talitha. You have used her to open my eyes to so much about You already! My prayer for her is that she will know herself now and always Your Talitha—Your darling little girl, Your precious little lamb. I pray that she would hear Your Son’s voice saying, “Talitha cum” and calling her to life in Him. I pray that she would grow up to be a woman in whose life Christ’s death-defying love and power are made manifest for all to see. All this I ask in the name of Him who calls us from death to life, Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.