Newborn babies are wonderful and important for many reasons. You may know that Kari and I now have a third son, Samuel Monroe Browder. He was born Friday, February 19th and we are elated! What a sublime and humbling thing to participate with God in the creation of life! It is indescribable.
Any of you who are parents know, however, that the elation tends to wane at 2:00 AM. You haven’t slept for four hours and you have at least four sleepless hours to go. Then there is a day of work to undertake. Wash, rinse, and repeat day after day until the little one finally learns to sleep through the night. God help you if the little one is colicky. It’s not the baby’s fault; the little one is just hungry (among other things). The sublime creation of life is mixed with the profoundly gritty realities of love as energy reserves wane night after night.
I had a rare moment of self-discovery and circumspection the other night at around 2:46 AM. You see, Browders love their sleep–they love it. You might even call it an idol (along with Alabama football). At 2:46 AM, I was up with my wife, changing diapers and irritated with my inability to sleep. I then thought of Our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness in Luke 4. Forty days with nothing to eat and the temptations that came: how quickly I would have given in! How quickly I would have folded! Here I was serving my newborn son with the woman I love, and my comfort was all I could think of. How dark is the shadow of my sin. How woefully short I fall from the sublime essence of divine love–the love that gives of itself without hesitation or consideration of self.
The meaning of that love found an open ear that night; I realized yet again that it is the love with which I am loved–even in the darkest shadow of my sin. How often I must be reminded! It is a love that is not irritable and grouchy, a love that wouldn’t rather sleep or eat than provide for me. It is a love that doesn’t tap its foot and say, “This had better be good,” when it sees me coming. It is the love with which you are loved, too.
Lent is not here as a meaningless season of self-derision. It is here to help us realize the lengths to which Jesus Christ went to bring us home. It is here to show us that we are intransigent sinners–more so than we would ever realize or admit…but it also shows us that the love with which God loves us is richer, deeper, more powerful, and more full of mercy and grace than we ever would dare to dream. What a lesson at 2:46 AM.