As I continue to contemplate the reality and miracle of the new birth—God granting life to taste and see the infinite joy in his Son—I’ve been reminded often of the “midwives” who helped deliver me through that process.
What’s brought me back to these old country roads of my life is my friend Davin, who continues to encourage me to stop and feel the breathtaking weight of eternity that hangs on the reality of new life in Jesus. One day I’ll join Davin in glory before our Lord, which is exceedingly precious to me because there was a time not so long ago in my life when I did not know Him; I was without God and without hope in this world.
In a sense I owe my very life to Rob and Kristy, whom I met shortly after I was married in Greeley, Colorado. A coworker invited my wife and I to church (and set an example that scorched my conscience), where we met Rob and his wife. It’s been six years ago this spring.
We live across the country now, but there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about them and thank God. As a journalism and philosophy major at the University of Northern Colorado, Rob invited me over for regular breakfasts at his apartment at 5 am on Saturday mornings—the perfect hour to see if a college student is really serious about learning. By the grace of God I went, though normally the hours I kept weren’t quite that early.
Rob spent time with me, that’s one of the most important things I can say about my friend. We ate dinner at his place, hung out, and talked. And though I don’t talk to him much now, I’m sure his demeanor hasn’t changed all that much. He had the conversational grace of a bulldozer, as I recall, which is exactly what I needed.
He would ask while dozing my life, “So these things you say about God, they don’t really seem to show up anywhere in your life.” It was questions like those, and influence in my life from a godly man, that God used to bring me to himself. Two other things that Rob did to change my life: he encouraged me to read my bible regularly, and he passed on a recommendation for Desiring God by John Piper. As I re-read it now, crossing over the same highlights I wrote back then, I pause and ponder with gladness:
Once we had no delight in God, and Christ was just a vague historical figure. What we enjoyed was food and friendships and productivity and investments and vacations and hobbies and games and reading and shopping and sex and sports and art and TV and travel… but not God. He was an idea, even a good one, and a topic for discussion; but he was not a treasure of delight.
Then something miraculous happened. It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the golden dawn. First the stunned silence before the unspeakably beauty of holiness. Then the shock and terror that we had actually loved the darkness. Then the settling stillness of joy that is the soul’s end. The quest is over. We would give anything if we might be granted to live in the presence of his glory forever and ever (Desiring God, 71-72).
Rob shared his eternal joy with me in Jesus. He stopped to care about a stranger passing by, to get involved, to ask hard questions, to love with patience and presence, and to guide me to his Master. I would never have known Christ (in God’s eternally good providence, by the way) had it not been that Rob intervened as I frolicked on the way to destruction.
And Rob’s wife, Kristy, did the same with my wife. Love, friendship, patience and time. She gave herself in giving her Lord. I praise God she will be counted as a faithful woman who hoped in God, just like her mother Sarah (1 Peter 3:5). Two faithful midwives for our second birth, now brothers and sisters in the kingdom.
Interestingly enough, it was Kristy who emailed me sometime in the middle of March with a book recommendation, Jon Acuff’s Quitter, which is about how he moved closer toward his desire to write on a full-time basis. Knowing me, knowing my passion for writing, Kristy let me know about the book and gently reminded me, in a way only God could have orchestrated, about my dream of writing. Start writing again. So I did.
I started a blog on April 6 about my kids as a step closer to that goal. As I continued to write about my kids, I prayed and thought seriously that the Lord had something in particular he wanted me to fill my words with. I didn’t know what, but I thought it might be near on the horizon.
On the 29th of April my life and writing changed forever when my friend Davin died of cancer. Stricken, grieved, perplexed, heartbroken, I took to what I know, which is to process life through key strokes and the flicker of a pen. Since then others have been comforted by God in what I wrote (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), which is truly evidence that he gifts people to serve his body and exalt his Son. God used Kristy, who got me up off the bench, and others were served in the process. Our God is faithful.
It’s because of Rob and Kristy that I know Davin’s joy. There’s not a day since that cold Sunday in April when I don’t sit with grief and awe over the fact that two faithful people are the instrumental reason I don’t weep without hope over my friend. And as we grind our teeth in the agony of birth pains at the coming of the new age—through death, despair and suffering—we remember the new birth that made the promise of our joy unbreakably ours forever, and the midwives who saw us through it.
“You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:21-22).