Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"You are the first one of your kind..." - 8 Sept. 2009

First of all, today was a big day – Erin got her stitches out and Elsa’s umbilical cord finally fell off. Belly button, woohoo! Big day. We celebrated with some Krispy Kremes. It’s also the day of our first-ever off-site “En Vivo” Bible study. As I type this, the rest of our staff and who knows how many students are headed downtown to join with a local church group in serving some needy folks at one of Puebla’s DIF facilities. Though we’re at home with the baby, our thoughts and prayers are with our El Pozo family big-time as they try something new and exciting, as always with the goal of further teaching these young people what it means to fully follow Christ, to put flesh and bone to the words we read in the Bible. Can’t wait to hear stories. Okay, on to my latest baby-related thoughts…

If you know me at all, you know that I love music and that my favorite band is U2. They are, of course, a lot of people’s favorite band, and with good reason! I spend a lot of time listening to their music not only because it’s great music, but also because it inspires me. I mean, yes, they rock, but a lot of bands can do that. What I love about U2 is that they sing honestly about life and love and joy and pain, and they don’t pull any punches – kind of like the Psalmists. They are unabashedly Christian, downright evangelistic even, and at the same time they are the biggest and most popular rock band on Earth. That’s so cool! For example, for years and years they have ended their concerts with a song called “40”, which is basically a repackaging of … Psalm 40. So for decades, hundreds of thousands of people have walked out of U2 concerts humming the words of Scripture. Again – so cool!!! It could be argued that they are the most influential Christians on the planet. Nearly every song they sing has a clear biblical theme or message. When I think of the Scripture that says “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (my paraphrase of Hebrews 11:6), I think of these guys, because their art and activism and everything else about their lives seem to flow directly and unashamedly from their faith. Again – it is inspiring. So I’m sorry if it’s annoying that I write about U2 so much, and I’ll try to do a better job of working in other artists who inspire and inform my faith – but I don’t apologize for my love of U2. In fact, I wish all of you would really, really listen to their lyrics! And read “Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2” by Steve Stockman and “U2 by U2” … by U2. I think you’d be amazed and inspired as well.

So, that being said, if you were to ask me to name my two favorite U2 songs of all time … I don’t think I could possibly narrow it down to two. But if you were to then put a gun to my head and ask me the same question, it’s poooossible that I would name two songs that appear back-to-back at the end of the “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” album.

Track #11 is called “Yahweh” – the Hebrew name for God. Every time you read “LORD” in the Old Testament, you are reading a translation of YHWH, which is Hebrew shorthand for the answer God gave to Moses when Moses asked God for his name – “I Am Who I Am”. (The word Jehovah is another way of translating YHWH.) The Great I Am – that’s Yahweh. And this song, well, I just love it. It’s basically a prayer of surrender. It makes for a great daily/morning prayer, asking God to take my hands, feet, heart, city, etc. and use them for His will and glory. If you have an alarm clock with a CD player on it, you can do no better for a wake-up song than “Yahweh” by U2.

But the song I am thinking more about these days is track #10, “Original of the Species”. This is a song that Bono wrote about, and the band dedicated to, their own daughters. Bono called it “probably the best song on the album”, and it is a great song in its own right; but to a brand-new dad of a beautiful little girl, well, it goes straight to the heart. Gets me every time. (And yes, I’m well aware that now that I have a daughter, my Kleenex expenses will double or triple from here on out, and that’s just the way it is.) Check out the first several lines of the lyrics and maybe you’ll see what I mean:

Baby slow down
The end is not as fun as the start
Please stay a child somewhere in your heart

I’ll give you everything you want
Except the thing that you want
You are the first one of your kind

And you feel like no-one before
You steal right under my door
And I kneel ‘cos I want you some more
I want the lot of what you got
And I want nothing that you’re not…

Let me tell you people – and I know that many of you have experienced this yourselves with your own little ones – when I am staring at little Elsa Lynne, I am just overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed with her perfection, her innocence, her fragility. I’m overwhelmed with her beauty. I’m overcome by waves of the most pure and noble love I’ve ever experienced, by waves of a divine sense of responsibility, by wave upon wave of gratitude and joy and, in a weird way, the unique pain of knowing that every moment that passes is gone forever and that she’s already growing up at light speed before our eyes. My heart screams “Baby slow down!”, and I identify deeply with wanting “the lot of what she’s got and nothing that she’s not”. So pure, so sweet, so … one of a kind. She truly does “feel like no one before”. And it’s amazing. I want nothing more than to protect her from all of the evil out there, shower her with love – but without smothering her or keeping her from developing the right way, guide her away from repeating the many errors of her father, and steer her toward as much love and truth and beauty as possible during these days and, God willing, years that I have with her. And God has entrusted US with taking care of her!!! I can’t get over it. Sometimes, truth be told, I can’t even handle it. It’s too BIG. And all the while I’m looking at Erin, and my love for her is growing and deepening, too. We get to do this together, and the greatest gift we’ll ever give Elsa is a rock-solid marriage, built on THE Rock of Ages. And all of that mixes together and I’m left with the words of the great Marty McFly, “Whoa, this is heavy.” And that’s how I’m feeling today, Tuesday 8 Sept. 2009, day 11 of Elsa’s life.

So anyway, laugh at me for being so goo-goo for U2 if you want, I can take it – but man oh man, they sure know how to write ’em. At least from my perspective they do. And to think that EVERYONE is an “original of the species”, that of the billions and billions of people who have lived, are living, and ever will live, NO TWO ARE ALIKE. Each person a unique work of art, a masterpiece made by the true Master. It leaves me in awe.

“For [each and every one of us is] God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

Here are a few more photos of our little one-of-a-kind treasure for your viewing pleasure.

We call this one "the thinker". Oh wait they're telling me that one's taken already...

Right cross! "Now give me some milk, woman!" Elsa, punching mommy in the face - not cool, not cool at all.

Sleeping beauty.

Sleeping beauty squared.

Los abuelos a.k.a. master gardeners turning our massive back yard (roughly six by ten feet) into a little tropical paradise.

So cute in the car seat! Although it's a little big on her, even with the soft and snuggly kidopotomus insert.

This was hilarious - as she was waking up she kept sticking her little butt out as far as possible.

Belly button!

Until next time, love God and love each other.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Nate. Your post is absolutely refreshing! :0) I hope we get to meet Elsa sometime soon!

    Stacy Jackson