Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Words fail me when I think of my firstborn son.

Mother love is forged in the bloody crucible of bearing, birthing, and caring for a child.  Mine was forged with Isaac, and when I think of him all the fearsome, wonderful, complicated love seeps out of the mother-lines in my heart.  It is painful, it is wonderful.  It is transcendent and immanent and everything in between, a powerful force that I know could someday undo me.

As a pastor, I hear lots of mother-son stories.  Some of them are good, but many are tinged with disappointment or flooded with heartbreak.  I'm aware that ours may turn out the same (at any rate, I can't guarantee it won't).  And so I am, by necessity, constantly handing Isaac and his brothers over to God.

It was Isaac who first taught me what being "made in the image" of someone means.  When I looked at him as a baby and toddler, I saw myself.  Two sons later, it is still Isaac who resembles me the most, physically.  His personality is like mine too, though with significant differences: he has the math/science brain I never will, and a frantic need for socializing that I have only a few times a year.

But he's his mother's son.  My son.  My passionate, wildly imaginative, smart-as-a-whip, articulate and sharp-tongued child.  I understand his failures by right of sharing some of his weaknesses, which makes my job both easier and more difficult.  At my worst, I reinforce his weaknesses by my own frequent, visible failures as his mother.  And at best, having so many stories of "when Mommy did the same thing" helps him take my advice and receive my comfort.  For now.

And now is what I celebrate, I think because I know (more than I wish) that my welcome in Isaac's life may pass. There will be times in life when Isaac has little use for his mommy's words (or hugs, or kisses).  There may even be times when he breaks my heart or I break his.  So when the moments of welcome happen--the hugs, the kisses, the tearful conversations after disappointment--I do not take them for granted.

Palm Sunday has just passed, and on that day we Christians are mindful that the crowd which welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday was the same one that crucified Him on Good Friday.  We pastors tend to focus on the fickleness of humanity when we preach or teach on Palm Sunday.  But this time around, I heard the story differently.  I wondered if Jesus wasn't feeling something more like the mother-love I feel for Isaac when he saw the crowds welcome him so jubilantly.  If, rather than seeing them with cynicism or sorrow, He simply accepted their joy, thankful for a moment of clarity and love without expecting it in the future.  His love would be enough, even if theirs wasn't.  His love wouldn't give up, even if theirs did for a time.

I am learning a shadow of that kind of love as a mother.  And it's fitting to think on it this week, because it was this week, Holy Week, that we found out we were having Isaac.  He was a surprise (story of my life...I mean his life...I mean my life).  Matt and I had dropped out of graduate school just a few months before in anticipation of transferring to Regent College up here in Vancouver.  We were both working full-time to save the required thousands of dollars we needed to prove to the Canadian government we could be self-sufficient.

Then, the day before Good Friday, we found out we were expecting Isaac.

We were ecstatic. Not because we had planned him (we hadn't) not because we knew how it was going to work out (we didn't), but because...I don't know.  We knew he was coming and we wanted him, despite all the uncertainties about finances and school and the knowledge that we would have him in another country.  He was coming and it was going to be okay, better than okay.

And, of course, it was.  And is.  And by God's grace, will continue to be.

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