It all began when my son, Nathanial, was about 36 hours old…and Holly and I were about 36 hours tired. In most respects we were prepared for our son’s arrival. The nursery had been painted. The crib was assembled. His clothes had been washed and even the cars seat had been installed. The thing however, is that no sooner had he arrived into this big world – but he started to cry. And he cried. And he cried. And he cried. At first it wasn’t so bad- a new baby we told ourselves. But before too long his cries gave way to worry. And that’s when we realized that a painted room wasn’t going to fix this. An assembled crib wasn’t going to calm him. Washed clothes weren’t going to give his little lungs a rest. And an installed car seat was the least of our worries. In other words, and not unlike Mary in the ending of this year’s Easter story, we were afraid. No more than that – we were terrified. There we sat, in the middle of the night, alone in our hospital room with a screaming baby and the realization that despite all our preparations – we weren’t prepared for this…after all, how could anyone be prepared for this.
And that’s when Holly said to me…Adam, why don’t you sing to him. Great idea…the only thing was that I was a little rusty on my nursery rhymes and lullabies. I started Itsy Bitsy Spider…but didn’t get very far. And Nathaniel cried. I tried Rock-A-Bye Baby…but forgot most of the words. And Nathaniel cried even more. Don’t worry about nursery rhymes or lullabies, Holly said to me, just sing him something that you know…something that you like. And so, without even thinking, I started to sing:
God will come to you in the silence
God will lift you from all your fear
You will hear God’s voice: God claims you as his choice
Be still and know God is here!
Do not be afraid I am with you. I have called you each by name.
Come and follow me, I will bring you hope.
I love you and you are mine.
To be honest, I have no idea why I chose that hymn (Evangelical Lutheran Worship: 758) to sing. We hadn’t sang it recently in church, and it certainly hadn’t been carefully chosen or perfectly selected à and yet in that moment, those words, words that so fittingly met all three of us in the midst of our fear and exhaustion, surprisingly filled our dark hospital room. The most amazing thing however – is that as I sang this verse (the only verse of the hymn that I know) – Nathaniel started to cry less and less until eventually, and resting in our arms, our son fell asleep for the first time.
My wife and I learnt a lot that night. We learnt that a well painted nursery isn’t going to be the answer to every problem…and we learnt that a properly installed car sear won’t solve every issue. But perhaps more than anything else à we learnt that even when fear and anxiety and uncertainty surround us…God’s story continues – and the hope of God’s promises will never end!