The obvious answer is, well, obvious. As my belly continues to swell with a 34-week fetus on her way to becoming my newborn bundle of joy in the near future, I still chuckle at the thought I had of going to Target to buy pregnancy tests to donate to a women’s health clinic located on our church campus. The odd looks from the clerk at the register would be priceless – and if I could pull off a fake naïve conversation feigning ignorance at my obvious pregnant state (one co-worker suggested I cross my fingers and excitedly exclaim, “Here’s hoping!”), it would be simply classic. The physical aspect of what’s growing in me should be apparent to anyone and everyone at this point. Except perhaps my 21-month old toddler who kind of knows something about Mama is dramatically changing but still can’t quite wrap her little mind around it yet. It’s ok sweet girl, we’ll all be shell-shocked for a while when our new reality hits, but we’ll find our footing as the dust settles.
What else is growing in me is not so obvious. The excitement and the anxiety. Sometimes it’s mostly one, sometimes mostly the other, but usually it’s the oddest mix of both that I hardly know what to do with because both are screaming so loudly in my head and heart at exactly the same time. On the humble 2D ultrasound in my ob-gyn office, we saw Munchkin #2 look right at us and blink, slowly, beautifully and unmistakably. My heart swelled at the beauty of her face, and then my blood pressure briefly spiked at the undeniable re-realization that I will have another little human being to add to our mix, to raise all over again from Day One. Just when we got into such a sweet rhythm with Munchkin #1. It’s growing. The excitement and the fear, all bundled up in this great anticipation.
The other day, I read again about the miracles of how Jesus fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish. His disciples were being confronted with demands that felt ridiculously daunting. How will we feed all these hungry mouths? I’m sure they were wondering how they would take care of themselves as well. I can so relate to them. Trying to feed thousands of people could make for kind of a long day, and even after they saw Jesus perform the miracles He did, Matthew 16:5 says they forgot to take bread for themselves and it implies they got a little worried. Curiously, His warning to them is to “take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” He reminds them that the last thing they really need to worry about is how they’re going to survive physically, day to day. What they need to be more careful of is letting the leaven of certain worldviews take root and grow to the point where it dictates – and oppresses – their inner life. The leaven of the Pharisees – needing everyone to follow all the rules with a dead heart, needing to maintain the appearance of having it all together while a vibrant inner life is nowhere to be found, needing law and order to reign over love and freedom as Christ’s beloved – beware of this leaven. Take heed lest this be the seed that is growing in you. The leaven of the Sadducees – that there is no hope of an eternal perspective, that today’s pleasures are all we have to live for so set your hope only upon what lies before your eyes here and now – beware of this leaven too.
For the fetus growing in me, for the mix of excitement and anxiety growing in me, for my toddler who also continues to grow despite my protests, I am taking Jesus’ words to heart. It is not for me to worry about how we will all physically survive this big transition from family-of-three to family-of-four. We will. (Pour me another cup of coffee, please.) It is more important for me to remember not to get too caught up in the need for everyone to follow the rules of the house, the need to maintain an appearance of having it all together at the expense of my inner life, the temptation to become over-consumed with what is in my here-and-now (as legitimate as today’s demands may be) such that I forget there is a much, much bigger Picture that we are all a part of. And my role is to relinquish my need for control, to let my heart be shepherded by my God who will give grace for each day, and to shepherd the little hearts in our growing family to live fully and joyfully in His grace and love. Let this be the hope and vision that is growing in me.