[*note: Young Lives is the a Young Life ministry for teen mothers]
This week in Michigan, in a little tiny corner of the world known as Timberwolf Lake, a group of people are getting ready for the arrival of 100-plus teen mamas … and their babies.
Yesterday, one little tiny spot in this little tiny corner of the world looked like this:
It’s a lovely place indeed, a place where many people hear the beautiful truth about Jesus Christ and God’s love.
But this week, it’s especially beautiful, because this week, it looks like this:
In one short day, this place – intended primarily for teenagers without babies – has been transformed into a place absolutely and perfectly and completely intended for teenagers with babies.
I wish I could describe the transformation. Pack-n-Plays, high-chairs, booster seats, napping cots, tricycles, bouncy chairs, swings, kiddie pools, blocks, toys, toys, toys, blankets, sheets, diapers, snacks, juice, rocking chairs, and so much more. It all must be unloaded, unpacked, sorted, washed, organized, and delivered to twelve – yes, twelve different nursery spaces.
But it’s always the strollers that get me – those colorful, joyful, inviting, ready-to-roll strollers. They are the first thing the mamas will see when they climb out of a car, van, or bus. The strollers, saying, “We are ready for you. We’ve been waiting for you. We welcome you. We love you.”
Those are powerful words for a young mama to hear.
But they are not the most important worlds they will hear this week. These are: you are loved by a God who is not just a father but also a mother, like –
an eagle who hovers over its young
a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings
a comforting mother
one who gives birth to the dew and the frost.
Most breathtaking of all, when in the very beginning God breathed the breath of life into humans and made them living creatures, he was like a mother, for that breath (neshamah) is derived from an older word nasham, a verb that means “to pant, especially of a woman in travail or labour.” It shows up in Isaiah 42:14 where the LORD, marching forth like a mighty hero, will say:
I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.
The LORD – our father God – like a woman in labor.
Gracious. Mercy. Astounding.
This week, 100-plus young mamas are going to learn about that God – the God who loves them, the God who became human to demonstrate that love, the God who offers new life, the God who created all life, the God who breathes life into us, the God who hovers, gathers, comforts, and gives birth to all that is.
Bless the LORD, oh my soul, for being just exactly what and who each one of us needs.