Give me a word, Lord: BIRTH & REBIRTH

John 3:3 “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

I Peter 1:3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

It’s that time of the year again. One of my favorite seasons has arrived. You may think I’m speaking of fall, but I’m not. It’s true I love fall, but I really love one of the farming seasons that begins during this time of year. We call it calving season. The cows are springing, bagging up, and dropping calves almost daily. We drive around the fields to locate the brand new babies and check on the soon to be mamas. We equate our calf seeking adventures to an Easter egg hunt at times. Our mama cows are pretty good at hiding their babies, and checking on the newly born calves can be a challenge. We purchased a new Hereford bull this year, and I have to tell you something, that boy is producing some beautiful calves. One of my favorite cows, Rosie, had the pretties little red heifer calf with white face and markings. She was born the day before hurricane Sally made landfall, so she has been named appropriately named Sally.

The actual process of calving, for the most part, is not a lot of work for the farmer. The mama does the work, and we get to enjoy the benefits. It is a beautiful experience to see new birth. The mama delivers the calf, and she immediately, gently cleans the baby up. She recognizes it as her own, and she will do whatever is necessary to protect the newborn calf. Although most deliveries are easy, from time to time, a mama cow will have difficulty. The calf may be a bit to big for her to deliver, and occasionally, the calf will have to physically be pulled out. I’ve not had to be a part of pulling a calf before. My husband, sons, and father-in-law always assume this role. I have had to pull a baby goat before, and that was super tough. I can only imagine how difficult it is to physically pull a calf out. What a way to arrive in this world…being tugged and pulled, resisting the change, not wanting to make the effort for the birthing process, resisting rather than arriving in a peaceful and gentle way.

Why would the baby want to leave the warm comfort of his or her mother’s womb and enter a strange, new, big unknown place? Who could blame the calf for wanting to stay put? I was considering that idea this morning, and began to think about humans and our need for rebirth. We create this warm, comfortable womb for ourselves. We have developed habits and attitudes, and we become fairly comfortable with the way things are. The world around us says live however you want. If you are happy then it is okay. We have adapted way too much to the worldly culture. A part within us may want to follow Christ, but we resist the need to change. We are too comfortable living our lives, and our hearts have to be tugged and pulled by the Holy Spirit because we refuse to make the effort on our own. But y’all, in order for us to receive the gift of salvation, we must be reborn.

Fortunately for us, being reborn is so much easier than the pulling a resistant calf. No one is going to tie our legs together and pull us out of the womb. So why are we kicking and screaming and fighting the rebirthing process? The kingdom of God requires that we leave our comfort zone. We have to completely die to ourselves and begin living for Christ. That sounds strange. How do we die to ourselves? We have to come to the end of ourselves. We have to recognize that we can’t do anything without our heavenly Father. We must become new creations and children of the King. We must give our hearts completely to the Lord.

In the mission field, I have had people tell me many times that they were waiting for a certain age to arrive, and then at that point, they would come to Christ and be saved. This was one of the answers I received frequently while ministering in the Dominican Republic. The people seemed to have a mind set that you had to reach a certain age, eliminate all of the sin in life, and become a better person, or perhaps they thought that they had to give up their comfortable way of living for self. When I questioned why they needed to wait for a certain age (usually around 40) the answer was frequently something to the effect of “I’m not good enough yet. I’ll be a better person by such and such age.” People, it doesn’t work that way. We can never be good enough. We have to recognize the fact that we are all born sinners, but because of Christ, we can all be sinners saved by grace. All we have to do is admit that we are sinners, believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected, and confess that Jesus is the Lord of our lives and commit our lives to Him. When we do that, the Father immediately, gently reaches down and cleans us up, and He recognizes us as one of His own. He will provide all the protection that we need. A wonderful thing happens at this point. The Holy Spirit of our living God takes up residence within us. That heart of stone we were carrying around that felt like an empty void is now beating for the Lord and full of life. That void we failed to fill despite our many efforts is now completely full. We didn’t do anything to earn this rebirth. We couldn’t possibly ever be good enough to deserve salvation. But God! Oh but God! He loves us so much that He desires a close and personal relationship with us, and He made a way.

To be reborn, we don’t have to clean our act up first. If we accept Christ as our Savior, He will do the cleaning up. The Holy Spirit will gently guide you in the right direction. He’ll nudge you here and there and let you know when sin appears, and He will strengthen you so that you can overcome the sin struggles. A new baby calf is one of the cutest things on the farm. When he first stands, his long little legs wobble as he tries to walk over to mama to nurse. Baby steps. Unsteady. Off balance. He struggles a bit, but soon he is latching on to mama and filling his belly with the milk of life. As young Christians, we are going to struggle. We also must take baby steps. We will feel unsteady, off balance, and unsure, and I’m not going to tell you that it won’t be a struggle. That enemy that controlled the old sin life will try to battle with us. He won’t give up easily, but there is no reason to fret. Our Savior has already defeated the enemy, and now we belong to God. We begin praying and speaking to the Lord. We latch on to His word, and soon, we too are filled with the milk of life, and we receive that much needed spiritual nourishment that only our Savior can provide.

Just as that baby calf grows into a healthy strong bull, a reborn person too will grow healthy and strong in spirit. It won’t happen over night. We can’t be reborn one day and know all we need to know about Christ the next. In fact, we will never know all that we need to know, but we can rest assured that we are no longer walking in the dark. We are no longer that old shell of a person. We are now new in Christ, and we are walking with Him. We grow by reading His Word, going to church, joining Bible studies, surrounding ourselves with Christian friends that help us stay on the path as we begin our walk, and we praise God and pray and pray and pray. God never said it would be easy. If you’ve read the Bible you already know that it won’t be easy. Actually, it’s going to be pretty hard. There will be struggles. I guarantee that there will be struggles. But one thing that I know for certain is that it will most definitely be worth it! Consider the hardest day of work that you ever put in during your lifetime. You thought that you couldn’t make it until quitting time, but you did. You got off work and went to the place you feel most at ease…home. Right now, Peeps, we are going through some of the hardest days of our lives. We may feel like we aren’t going to make it, but we will. And when our time here is finished, we get to go the best place ever…our heavenly home! It’s not going to be easy, but just remember that it will be worth it!

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