The urgency and uncertainty surrounding the birth of my first child struck me. Leading up to it, I knew the baby would eventually come, but I had no way of knowing the precise moment it would occur.
Similarly, Jesus said we could discern the approximate time of His return, but not the actual day or the hour (Matthew 24:32-36). That’s because God wants us to be urgent at all times. What would God’s work have been like during the 1950s if Herbert W. Armstrong and the Church had known Christ’s return wouldn’t be for another 60 or 70 years? A lot less urgent, I’m sure. The Church may have projected a “due date” from time to time, but Mr. Armstrong never set the actual day or hour, because he didn’t know.
Our midwife projected March 27, 2000, as the “big day,” even though she warned us the calculation was essentially based on a bunch of hooey (backtrack 15 days from mother’s final menstruation, count 40 weeks forward, subtract father’s iq, multiply by 2, and so on).
Still, though, on my calendar “March 27” stood out like a flaming torch. I was scheduled to speak on March 25, which I figured to be ideal. Deliver a sermon on the Sabbath, rest up on Sunday, have a kid on Monday. It was the perfect plan. Months earlier, I had even told our musical director that my wife and I would have to miss the Philadelphia Singers practice Monday the 27th—that was baby day! Trumpet articles were due on the 29th—so I made plans to finish my assignment a week early.
Then nothing happened on March 27.
Something did, however, on March 28. I awakened with a heightened sense of urgency! Could this be the day? I wondered. What a boost this was for my spiritual life. I suddenly became more earnest and detailed in my prayers. If this was, after all, the day, I wanted to be thoroughly prepared—physically and spiritually.
At work, every project suddenly took on a new level of importance. I’d better wrap this up, I thought. What if my wife goes into labor for two and a half weeks? I may not make it back to the office for a while! I finished one article and began another in haste. Upon its completion, I launched into preparations for a message I was scheduled to give on April 1.
In the evenings, I waded through pages of Childbirth Without Fear, highlighting sections for fathers about preparing for childbirth. On my computer’s Bible software, I ran a search on “labor” and “travail.” (There are a lot of scriptures about childbirth, by the way.)
On Sunday, April 2, my wife and I planted our garden in the same way we had been doing everything else that week: quickly and efficiently.
It seemed a lot easier to prioritize after March 27. With the baby due at any time, every morning my wife and I woke up intent on making sure we finished those things which were most important that day.
Then it happened.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, April 4, my wife finally awakened to birth pangs! It was the day we had been diligently preparing for! We prayed together with the same earnestness and detail we had been for the past eight days especially.
Then it was time to act! No more reading, no more check-ups to mark progress, no more childbirth classes, no more cups of ice cream sandwiches with pickles on top—this was the moment of truth!
Actually, it was more like a day and a half of truth. It’s hard to describe that 28-hour period. Certainly, pictures or video do not do it justice, because they leave out the tidal waves of emotion and exhaustion that hit during childbirth. God calls it labor and travail for a reason. Though women shouldn’t fear labor, it is, nevertheless, the hardest physical work most mothers will ever know. And to see your wife labor so intensely is difficult for a man to endure as well. But, as Jesus said, both parents forget the anguish of travail the moment their child arrives (John 16:21).
That moment was at 9:32 a.m., Wednesday morning, April 5, 2000—more than a week after the projected due date. After examining our little girl, our midwife said she was born at just the right time. “Today,” she said, “is her actual due date.”
Looking back, I’m glad we had that extra week. On March 27, my wife and I never could have realized how much more we needed to do before the birth.
Spiritually speaking, we have all probably passed our projected due date. Who among us would have thought 20 or 30 years ago that time would have gone on this long before Jesus Christ’s return? That’s one reason so many have fallen away from God’s truth. In their hearts they have said, “My lord delayeth his coming” (Matthew 24:48). Many of them simply gave up on the birth.
But God says, “Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery? Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” (Isaiah 66:9; New King James Version). God says our spiritual birth is more real—its due date more certain—than any birth in the physical realm. It will surely come, though we have no way of knowing its precise moment.
But passing our spiritual due date is nothing to sulk about! What an opportunity—if it adds more urgency to our spiritual lives. Think about how much more needs to be done before the birth. Think about how much more we can do while there is still time. We haven’t a moment to lose.
Don’t let up. Instead, let “Could this be the day?” motivate your spiritual life!