The birth of anything is miraculous, but the birth of a human being is exceptionally so, not just because of the wonder of a whole person packed into an infant, but because of what it will become. I’ve done it with all three of my kids. You’d think I would have gotten it by the third one, but I was no different with him. For the first couple years, you project yourself on the child. You think he or she is thinking what you’re thinking. For a while, they cooperate, because they are so attached to you. You are all they know. Then slowly, imperceptibly, you realize they are someone else — someone other than who you thought they were. Then almost suddenly it dawns on you: you don’t have a clue what they are thinking. There is a stranger in your house. If you are going to get to know this person, you are going to have to work at it. In short, this person demands something of you.
My first two children were too kind. They did not want to hurt me or pull me out into something uncomfortable so they went along with my perception of them to a certain point for the sake of peace and the perception of others. They placated me. I used to take them on ministry trips with me where they were exposed to the neat, clean evangelical world everyone wanted, and they went along with it, while subversively remaining themselves. (Like crawling under the pews and tying people’s shoelaces together while I spoke, or stealing food from the church kitchen, or xeroxing their bare butts in the church office.) I’ll never forget the time I brought them up in front of a concert audience to have them teach everyone the hand motions to a song as I sang it, and Anne, who wasn’t feeling well at the time, proceeded to hurl her lunch upon the first row. It was like she was saying, “We can keep this stuff inside for a while, but sooner or later it’s going to come out!” And so it did.
Chandler is not like this. He has been his own person and had his own thoughts from the time he could think, and he doesn’t give a wit about what anyone else thinks or perceives about him. Talking to him is like talking to someone from another universe. He’s a mystery to me only in so much as I refuse to find out who he is. He will remain a mystery to me as long as I choose to remain in isolation of him and others around me.
So Chandler is calling me out. And he’s calling me into his pain, sadness and regret. He’s also calling me into his own relationship with the Lord which I don’t know anything about because he doesn’t know how to put his spirituality in terms I understand, he just knows how to be spiritual.
I am a fool if I remain in isolation and insist that I know what is going on in Chandler’s mind, or demand that he know what is in mine. We don’t know this for anyone; why would I think I know it for him?
In the song we handed out yesterday about a courageous heart are the words: One light fixed in the darkness/One heart calling me to give mine. The courageous heart will jump in and find out what that means, and should I be willing to do that, Christ will answer. He will answer my courageous heart, as He will answer yours. That’s what He does; He will meet us at our point of vulnerability.
So the real question today is: At this time of Advent, when we celebrate the coming of Christ as a baby into a manger … What is the baby Jesus asking of you?