Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reflections on Becoming a Father: Hear the Voice of My Cry

I am a father. A daddy. A parent. I have a child. A daughter. A baby. This experience has changed my perspective on all aspects of life, relationships, spirituality, and responsibility; and I expect it will continue to do so for many years to come. Such a change brings with it both new insights and new questions. One of these insights happened within days of being home from the hospital with our newborn daughter and continues each time I hear the voice of her cry.

In the earnest cries of my newborn daughter I hear the cries of the psalmists unto God. “Hear my prayer,” she cries. “Hear my cry,” she wails. “Do not be far from me in my time of trouble, listen to the voice of my cry,” she implores, not with words but with the only voice she can muster at her young age. Here is our daughter, a sojourner in an unknown land, surrounded by dangers and fears which are greater than any she has faced before, entering a life which forces her to wait, even if for a brief moment, to be rescued from the calamities she encounters, wholly dependent upon her parents to deliver her from her distress. These are the cries of the Psalms.

I hear the cry of Psalm 39. David is in distress and has become keenly aware of the fleeting length and exceeding turmoil of life. Knowing he is powerless in the face of such obstacles, he declares, “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (v. 7) How like my daughter’s cries! Her only hope for relief is in the arms of those who gave her life. It is precisely because she is helpless to help herself that she cries to us for relief, and it is because David knows how powerless he is before the circumstances of life and before the power of God that he pleads, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry. Hold not Your peace at my tears!” (v. 12a)

I hear the pleading of Psalm 130. The psalmist begins, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!” (v. 1-2) After proclaiming God to be the one that can forgive iniquity he looks to Him as the one for whom he must wait and in whom he must place his hope. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning . . . For with Yahweh there is steadfast love . . . “ (v. 5-7) How like my daughter’s cries! In the midnight hours, when she is startled awake by a sudden noise or a fearful dream and finds herself alone, she cries out for help. She cries out hoping that we, her parents, will intervene, and she watches in hope of our return when we will envelop her in our steadfast love.

I hear the mournful distress of Psalm 51. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin!” (v. 1-2) Drowning in sin, David turns to the only One that can deliver him. He knows that such a deliverance will bring relief and such a cleansing will be pure and complete. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (v.7) In seeking such a cleansing, he pleads to be restored to the joy he once knew. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (v. 12) How like my daughter’s cries! When hunger, like David’s guilt, bores deeply and  gnaws unceasingly, she cries for the ones she knows can provide relief. When she is mired in the filth of the flesh from which she cannot escape, she begs for us to intervene, to cleanse her, and to restore her to the joy and comfort she previously knew.

Before God, we are but newborn babies in need of the strength, wisdom, love, and redemption of the One who is our Creator. Sometimes His response is swift and powerful as He plucks us from the imminent dangers that threaten to destroy us. Sometimes He delays responding to our cries to give us time to learn to wait upon Him. Sometimes He lets us confront our fears so we can persevere and become more mature. Always He is our hope for deliverance from the stain of sin, a stain of our own making, in which we too often dwell and from which only He can cleanse, redeem, and restore.

“And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.”
~ Mark 10:13-16

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