I remember the first time I saw today’s Old Testament reading from Isaiah.
We had just returned from meeting our second daughter’s birthmom. It was an intense and exhausting weekend. We had spoken over the phone several times, and meeting her in person was wonderful. She was a lovely and loving young woman. We met her parents and talked about many things including lots of really hard stuff. When you have only a few days to get to know someone and decide if you are both right for each other, small talk dissatisfies. You have to ask the hard questions and answer them, too.
Flying home on Sunday, we were not sure of her decision. She would get back to us during the week. We felt like this was the baby and the birthmom and the birth family situation God had chosen for us. We didn’t know if she believed the same. All we could do was return home and wait.
Adoption is at times a scary process. It takes faith and trust – faith in God and faith in a young woman in fragile circumstances – trust in God and trust in a young woman looking to do the best for her child – all the while knowing it could all fall apart at any moment.
It was in the days of waiting that I first saw today’s Old Testament scripture reading. I was praying for her and for her baby and, of course, praying for us. “Lord, if this baby is the child you want us to raise, please make it happen. I pray only that Your will be done.”
It was then that I was led to Isaiah 54.
Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear,
Break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor,
For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife
than the children of her who has a husband,
says the LORD.
Enlarge the space for your tent,
spread out your tent cloths unsparingly;
lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes.
For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left;
your descendants shall dispossess the nations
and shall people the desolate cities.
The words jumped off the page! I knew then that this little baby was to be ours. I am the barren one, and I am to enlarge my tent. I just wept. (I weep now, too!)
Only love can make such beauty. Only love sacrifices her child. Only love welcomes a little child. Only love holds it all in His hands.
In Advent, we too, await a child. As one waits to give birth, the other waits to receive. Both bathed in love. One full. One empty.
We are the barren ones: sinful and selfish, separated from God through that sin. What we bear is of the flesh. Yet, we are the ones who are to “break forth in jubilant song” because from the beginning God had a plan to restore life within us. His name is Jesus.
What kind of love is this that sends His son to sacrifice so that we can be with God in heaven for eternity? Divine Love. Love overshadowed. Love conceived. Love gives birth to new life.
As you continue your Advent preparation, I encourage you to contemplate that Divine love and your own barrenness before it. Open your arms before your loving father in a posture of faith and trust. Allow His love to overshadow you, to conceive life within you, and to birth Jesus anew.
O Come! O Come, Emmanuel! Anne
Heavenly Harmony, Song for the day: Only Love by Wynonna Judd.