To begin with, I haven’t given birth to a baby for over thirty years. That, in itself, is worthy of thanksgiving. (And beyond that, if you are a man somewhat faint-of-heart, you might consider going to the next post on your reader…)
Not that I would trade any of it—that miracle of another human being growing within me and then passing through me into the world, and, as my husband’s mother mused when our first was born, someone who is “50% mom, 50% dad, and 100% herself”, well, that’s just unspeakably cool.
Back in the early ‘80s, they were going with these new things called “birthing rooms”: comfortable bed in a wallpapered, home-like atmosphere, etc. I got to use one when our first made her global debut. For all the “coaching” classes we had, poor Bob was ultimately relegated to silence and the important task of providing me with ice chips.
For our second, however, the birthing room was not available, and so I was taken into the old standard: an operating room atmosphere with gleaming chrome and bright lights, in which I (heavy with child and in “transition”) was hoisted onto a hard metal table, and my feet put up into “stirrups”. And here’s the best part—my wrists were secured to said table with with leather straps. (Like I was going anywhere???)
So when I read this verse from Psalms, it rings true to my experience:
“…Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.”
Yep, that about sums it up.
In the Old Testament, it made sense that the animal to be sacrificed had to first be secured to the alter. Obviously, being on the alter was not it’s natural state of existence, and moreover, even though the poor creature didn’t know what was about to happen next, I’m sure the alter it was laid upon was considerably less comfortable than its previous repose in the sweet clover of the pasture. So the cords were necessary.
Because, otherwise, sacrifices have a habit of crawling off the alter to avoid the pain:
- Spouses leave for a more comfortable relationship,
- Parents “abandon” their children to hide from responsibility in alcohol and drugs,
- Manipulation of circumstances replaces a patient trust in God’s timing and outcome,
- Offering unconditional apology and forgiveness succumbs to personal explanation, or even revenge.
And the list goes on.
Placing myself and all those I love, and all my hopes and dreams and aspirations, on God’s alter is an act of trusting confidence. Even so, I’m still prone to take them back, and so asking for the Holy Spirit to “bind them to the alter” is also an important act of faith. And His circumstantial intervention, while not usually comfortable, can be quite creative!
If I could trust the people who put my wrists in the straps to bring forth new life from me, I’m thinking I can afford God the same. Because new life is always the goal.
(FYI, today is our eldest’s birthday! Happy birthday, Jess!!)
Psalm 118:27 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.