Yes, it’s true. I’m going to be a father! My wife is now in her fifth month, and I’m doing fine. (HA!) I say that because it’s our first child, and we plan to have it in China. It’s also because I believe the news is hitting me more and more while the number of people I tell grows larger.
Countless thoughts have run through my mind in the past month or so, but none compare to the ones I have had related to responsibility and limited time. I have considered our family’s future, along with its education, air quality, medical care, culture, church, etc. But some recent experiences have been reminders that have shown me the weight and span that all this parenting business will encompass.
My wife and I travel to a friend’s house every Wednesday night. I am joyful to share what that night’s agenda generally looks like. When the three of us arrive at his house, two or more of his four, soon to be five, children and his wife, greet our friend. We sit down to eat sometimes, but if dinner’s not ready, I’ll take time with one of the children to do homework, read a book, or play. We’ll eat a scrumptious meal! As families, we’ve now seemed to assign the post-dinner time for dessert, games, or a combination. The youngest is put to bed at this point. The other three hit the hay around 8, and we as guests accompany the family in Bible reading, a briefing of the story, and prayer for an unreached people group located in China.
What my wife and I have noticed is that there is a conglomeration of responsibilities in order to take care of a child. Physical, emotional, intellectual, and above all, spiritual needs, are to be taken heed of daily. “Daily” doesn’t even make the roster for meanings I want to express. “Moment by moment” would be more like it. And these seconds are precious because of the short span that we have together.
There’s another older couple that teaches at our school. They took and adopted a Chinese girl as a newborn 15 years ago from a Chinese orphanage. The child is now in high school, but she is currently in a Korean hospital. Why? She has lupus, and now she has been diagnosed with HLH, a life-threatening blood disorder. Her parents are both by her side while her life is slipping away. The hope they and we hold on to is that she knows God. Therefore, we shall see her again some sweet day in a place where there won’t be any pain, suffering or tears (Revelation 21:1-5a).
This daughter is nearing her end at age 15. Our child is four months away from squinting at a world it has never seen, only heard. Deep sadness has overcome me since this family’s situation went downhill a couple weeks back. What has stuck to me is the time we have as foreigners on this planet before we reach our eternal destination. I already know that the feeling of being a new parent will wear off. Some days, I’ll be grumpy. What is striking my core right now is the limited time I’m going to have with my child. Maybe the child won’t even make it as long as I hope. Who knows? Only God does, and He… is… in… control! That is why I am already praying for my love for God to exceed that of my love for my wife and child. May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Am I excited to have my own child crying constantly, screaming for food or a change, and waking me up in the early hours of the morning? Of course! But what I’m also feeling are the fears that come with the joy. The good news is that I don’t have to hold on to them. I can offer the fears up and live with a spirit “of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7) because that’s what our little one will need, moment by moment.