Consequences of birth

At this time of year Christians think a lot about Jesus coming as a baby. As I sat in my thanksgiving chair this morning, resting from a burst of dusting (where does it all come from?), I was struck with all the decisions that have been made for me simply by virtue of my birth. Think about it. I was born white, female and American. I had a mother and father who were married and from that union was blessed with two sisters. Situated in this way, I was sent by God to live my life. Wow! Think of the implications of each and every one of these givens. I was born materially rich. I was born in the majority race and class. I was born to bear babies and not fight wars. (If I had been male my lottery number, based on my date of birth, would have been number 1 during the Vietnam Era of my country’s history. I would surely have been drafted.) I was the first in my family to go to college. I went all the way and I have a PhD. The United Nations says that only 1 in 100 people in the world go to college, let alone have a doctorate.

Birth is a big deal. I think of the verse in Acts that says

From one blood He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17

actsAs a graduate student in anthropology, I was so enamored with the idea of how an individual is shaped by virtue of where he/she is born that my husband took the photographs from a Life magazine photo-essay and had them custom-framed around the verses from Acts. It adorned the wall of my office for many years when I taught maternal-child nursing.

Yes, I think of Jesus’ birth at this time of the year, but this year I am also thinking of my own and looking back over 60 years of living. What have I done with the gift of life? As Carrie would say, I was already pondering when my sister shared this story about a man and his son who come into the bar where she works. The man and his son sit at a table and share a cold cola and play some darts and banter about the day. This particular day they had just returned from hunting and were reminiscing about the fun they had had. All of a sudden a woman at the bar said, “You’re kidding me. They let that Retard hunt?” This young man, the son of the father and the son of the Father, was born with Down’s Syndrome. I guess the proprietors of the pub let the woman know that her behavior was unacceptable. She was not suspended from the club, but it was close.

I didn’t initially put intellect as another given at birth, but it surely is, a precious given from the womb. I wonder what Jesus’ IQ was….

Walking this Wednesday to Bethlehem,



7 comments on “Consequences of birth

  1. I was 9 years old when I first pondered the circumstances of my life. There I was night skating at the school’s outside rink… staring up at the stars and thinking I could perhaps have been born in China or somewhere else, and would have known none of this. I was grateful for every aspect of my life and lifted childlike praises heavenward… I can still see myself and feel the secure balm of God keeping me right there where I was.
    Being 60 and thinking these thoughts is good… we have both now lived such a, ‘many more years’ and the putting ourselves in the thankful chair while we ‘ruminate’ is a good thing.
    Blessings Dr Dawn 🙂

    • Funny how I was sitting in my Thanksgiving chair when I read your comment. I had my computer in my lap because I was reading the details from my missionary friend, Karol and her report on a woman we support who feed the “hungries” from her little thatched hut in Punta Gorda, Belize, Central America. I was thanking God for her servanthood and for the ladies in my church who help her in her ministry. I was thinking how different things would be for me if I were born in a hut in Belize…

  2. I couldn’t help but think of Esther who also must have contemplated her birth, and where she was, who she was, and the time and placement in her family. Her statement that she was brought to the kingdom “for such a time as this” has come back to me time and time and time again, reminding ME of God’s perfect placement
    of me in my circumstances and set it all up that even today I am where I am and I am who I am “for such a time as this.”

    I must confess here that my personality type, etc., has me often thinking back with regrets of bad choices I have made and paths I have chosen that were not the best or what God would have wanted for me. In down times or darker moments, these regrets can become so large and consuming — almost debilitating. But recently, I have also contemplated the word “redeened” and redemption and all that really means to a child of God. We usually only think of it in terms of our salvation and being bought back through His grace and shed blood. But as I read in Isiah, I found that He redeems even more and tells us, that He will “restore the years the locusts have eaten” — in other words, He redeems even our mistakes and bad choices. I think this, beyond any other thing I have learned, causes awe and wonder within me. The timing of Jesus’ birth, perfect timing for a perfect baby, compared to ME —-
    yet He perfects everything that concerns me. Dawn, even if you were born in a hut in Belize to different parents on a different day, if His plan for you was to have a PhD
    and work with little babies, He would have found a way —- even if He had to change all the world’s kings and all the world’s governments to get you there — it would have happened. What a thought! Were it not for grace. . . where would any of us be???

  3. Ah, Cora, how to think about all these thoughts. Does God truly have our days marked out for us, even our mistakes? I am such a Methodist. I am heavy on the free will, but love my sisters who embrace Calvin and his theological discourse on God’s sovereignty in all things. I really don’t know if I would have gotten where I am without the placement of my physical body in circumstances that favored it. That being said, I do believe that one can go from nowhere to the top of society if God wants it to be that way., no matter what. I am just unsure how much He “sets things up”. Do you know what I mean? Like in world affairs, how much should I just trust Him and how much should I be involved in politics?

    I love that you have been contemplating the word “redeemed”. I think you ought to blog it out for all of us. I could use a good explication of how He can use even my mistakes and bad choices, and I trust very few people who could do this as well as you could do it. Love you much.


  4. Thank you, Dawn, for your thoughts here. I’ve been in many of those discussions between free will and the sovereignty of God. I will definitely think out a blog about God’s redemptive grace being used in our lives. But for the moment. let your thoughts rest on this most recent example I’ve experienced. Perhaps those of us who are facing our older years will understand this best. This past Sunday, a younger woman dumped on me about something that had offended her, and even though the other party had asked forgiveness twice, she was finding it so hard to forgive and love. Immediately, scenes from my early “thirty somethings” popped into my head where I had been hurt over something that seems so minor and silly now. But it was a biggie back then. So much so, that I carried it for years. I related this to this woman and told her how my inability to forgive and love only hurt my own life and my ministry and my relationship with the Lord. As the conversation progressed, my final advice to her was, if you can’t find words, than do something for this person. I knew she was crafty and artistic, and that this would take time for her. Time that would calm her down, cause her to think, while sacrificially doing something for someone who had offended her. Her face lit up, she understood and went away with a plan. So,. . . in the long range scheme of things, God took a failure of my own and redeemed it through the hurt of another and reconciliation. The older I get, the more of these situations I see, and regrets turn into a “such a time as this.” Whenever I have a “regret” linger in my mind, I can only ask the Lord for His grace and forgiveness, and now I ask for redemption —- a chance for Him to buy it back and make it right, whether within me or in the life of another. And so we come to Romans 8:28 where all things DO work together for good, don’t they?

  5. Yes, they do. I am so happy you had a chance to talk to this young woman and share your experiences with her. I am having the same kinds of things happen here. I listen to a young woman, newly pregnant, tell co-workers that she is not going to let her mother-in-law see the new baby because she treats her so badly. I think to myself, “This will hurt everyone involved. How can I show her how she can use the power of the grandchild so that everyone wins, especially the grandchild. Thank for sharing what you said to your young woman. You may be redeeming more than one for one!

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