Leaning at the counter, I lowered my head and breathed, long, slow breaths. In a few moments I checked the time.
I double-checked my overnight bag. I paced the living room. I looked out of the window in hopes to spot the headlight’s beam of my husband’s car swing round the corner and turn toward our tall, little house on Commerce Road.
And it was time to breathe again.
It was the wee hours of the morning by the time we’d left for the hospital. In the span it took for my contractions to settle into something I thought meant real labor, snow clouds had opened their arms and covered everything in white. Our car seemed silent as a sleigh as we cut through unspoiled snow on the city streets. The streetlights flashed like so many Christmas lights as we passed each deserted intersection.
We were going to have a baby. Our first. And the magical quality of that sparkling drive, the squishing, squishing rub of the tires pushing through the snow and the low hum of Christmas music on the radio blended in a harmony so sweet that my fears (so persistent) and anxiety ebbed to a wisp.
Nearly twenty hours later, after our girl finally arrived and the clamor of nurses and family and friends drifted away, I held that little life overcome by absolute wonder.
My husband slept off his exhaustion in the recliner near me and in the soft liquid light of the bedside lamp, I basked in the reality that this one lived. This one was born.
And oh, I was grateful. Because when you’re young and learning how to be a grown-up and life is more difficult than you thought and bills stacked up, unpaid, on the table to a height equaled only by the number of unanswered questions in your mind, and your first pregnancy ends in waiting-room restroom toilet, you take a miracle like this and inhale its wonder.
This one lived! There was so much that I didn’t understand, but I knew I held life in my arms, at my breast, sharing the air and the light around us and I was giddy with the hope of it all. And I needed hope. I needed life. More than I realized.
When Jesus claimed he was The Life, what he offered was More Life. More life than anyone really knew they needed, more life than this one could contain. The Greek word zoe, meaning life, was used over 130 times in the New Testament, mostly by Jesus. Most of the appearances of zoe in scripture are in connection to eternal life, or more life than what we can see here, and life in the context of life with God through Jesus.
Early on, Jesus emerged as a young rabbi with revolutionary ideas. Even as a boy, he confounded the temple teachers with his comprehension and authority. His words, ones that we can read and highlight and apply to our own circumstances now, hit the Pharisees square in their phylacteries. His claims were outrageous, inciting violent reactions and boiling hate.
In John 5, after healing a man who’d been a paralytic for 38 years–a man who everyone knew was laid beside the Pool of Bethesda in hope that some of its waters might splash and heal him–on the Sabbath, no less, a hot confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders ensued. Jesus’ claims stirred up a maelstrom of anger and they tried (on the Sabbath no less) to kill him then and there.
“For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (vs. 18)
“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (vs. 26)
Ah, life. Zoe.
See we can debate all we like about when life begins (at conception? At first breath? When a fetal heart’s beat begins it’s thrumming?), and we can speculate about what happens when life leaves a body, leaving flesh alarmingly unanimated. We can wonder where it goes and where it came from, but can we know the answers, really?
Sixteen years after I held that tiny, perfect baby, she stood over my hospital bed while I was unconscious and combed accident debris from my hair and prayed for God to protect this life, this zoe—to give me more. And what is it like for a child to watch her mother helpless, dependent on a machine to pump oxygen into damaged lungs? How audacious a prayer can a child pray? The only logical, radical prayer: make her live!
So many miracles invested into extending my life. The timing of the accident, the nature of the injuries, the deft skill of the emergency team, the surgeon’s mind and hands and instruments, a thousand inventions from plastics to machines that breathe to medications, all a concert of miracles to save a single life.
And we wonder why anyone would be angry when someone who has the source of life in him would choose to walk near a lifelong cripple and give him more life. We wonder why the Pharisees didn’t flop down prone in worship right then and there. We wonder how dense the disciples could be that they never understood Jesus’ divine nature until he was ascending into heaven, resurrected.
Oh, friend, and I say this to myself as well, let us be freed from the confines of this wonderless, lusterless, plodding existence so that we might embrace the possibility of what it really means to follow after and place our itty-bitty faith into this man/God/savior Jesus and live.
Let us drag ourselves out of the common quagmire of the demands of today and look, anticipate, and long for the return of this life-possessing, life-giving Creator who promised to give us more, more life than we realize we need. He is coming again. I know–because I’ve held the miracle of a new baby and because I hung over the edge of death myself–that there is more.
And I agree with Simon Peter who said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. (John 6:68)
Life is short. Life is precious. Life is…… We have so many cliches about life, don’t we? Most of them are true (which is why they become cliche). This life is so valuable, but what Jesus was getting at over and over again in the gospels is that our.whole.lives. into eternity are valuable. God is life, Jesus is life. And he has come that you might have MORE!
and the link to the graphic: