Have you ever thought on this mystery? As a Christian, you are born not once, not twice, but three times. And at each of your supernatural births, your Father displays His staggering power and intimate care. He superintends each miraculous, life-beginning moment — and every “ordinary” moment in between. For you, His child, He attends to and orchestrates all.
Since my mind can’t wrap itself around this unsearchable greatness, I bow. I’m shaken from any slothful or lackadaisical fog. My sluggish heart quickens. Amazed that each split second is held in His hand, I realize there are no mundane moments. Each is supernatural.
The supernatural first breath
Think, for instance, on the moment of your first supernatural breath. No matter how hard you try, you can’t remember (and at best can only imagine) the moment you entered this world. I was there, but I have no memory of the delivery room where I gulped my first lung-full of oxygen. I know I was born that cold March morning, but I don’t remember the doctors or nurses or my first glimpse of life on this planet. That moment was not orchestrated by tiny me.
Even farther back, what of all of history’s had-to-happen moments that led up to your birth? You may have heard family stories, and you may even know details of your parent’s younger years, but none of us were there when our parents met. I wasn’t there when my dad returned home from China, a young WWII vet, and saw my mom for the first time: but I know that the one and only combination of their unique DNA had to unite to paint my eye color and mold my particular body shape.
Those moments were not held by me. They were supernaturally held.
A grand symphony — breaths breathed before our own
And none of us were there to orchestrate the meeting of our parent’s parents. I inherited a few lovely pictures, but I don’t know the stories of the day my grandparents met and married — I do know, though, that they came together to pass on temperaments and height and intelligence. And before them, now as far back as the years following the Civil War, my great-grandparents first caught each other’s eye.
I had eight great-grandparents (you did too) who had to meet each other in order to give birth to my four grandparents who had to meet each other in order to give birth to my parents who had to meet each other — and in the orchestrated mystery of it all, I would come forth as their third-born child.
I would be known in my mother’s womb and all the days ordained for me would be written in my Father’s book before there was yet one of them (Psalm 139:16). This grand symphony, casually called my family tree, is really a magnificent composition written with intricacy and purpose.
Yours, too, weaves with breath-catching moments guided by the Lord’s purposeful hand — all that you might be born. For even farther back than your great-grandparents, God’s hand was upon your family tree. Try to imagine, say, 600 years back. I’m filled with lots of hows and whys and wows when I try.
Other continents, centuries ago
What was she like, I wonder? Did she wake on her wedding day to a misty sunrise in the 1400’s — she who would bear a child who would live to be my 20th great-grandmother?
Did she pause in wonder at the gleaming orange of the painted Irish sky beyond her doorstep? Did I inherit her hair color? Did my love for all things green come from her? And why, I wonder, did my Lord choose that I would descend from her British-Isle lineage and not from women of China or Iceland? Why, oh, why was I ever given breath at all? My mind and heart stagger at the mystery!
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised! How unsearchable are His ways. He upholds the universe (and my moments) by the word of His power and I’m left awestruck at the intricate work of His omnipotent plan. (I Chron. 16:25, Ps. 96:4, Heb. 1:3) Each moment of each life, generation upon generation back in time, is woven together to create each new and unique life. We are each held in the Father’s hand, sustained with each breath by His infinite mercy and sure purpose for our earthly life. These great mysteries capture my heart.
The second supernatural birth
And then, those who love the Lord are born a second time. This birth I remember vividly. I was a great-pretender — suicidal on the inside, and all smiles and carefree college co-ed on the outside. He pulled me from a slippery pit of despair and rescued me. He plucked me from the fire. Thirty years later my eyes still fill with tears at the mystery and memory of my second birth. Why was I, the most messed-up girl I ever knew, brought to spiritual life?
Why was I given a second supernatural birth? Oh the mysteries of His ways!
You may not have a clear memory of the moment you were born again. His Spirit may have blown upon you and enlivened you (John 3:3-8) during your preschool years — you can only remember always loving Jesus. But your second birth is no less miraculous and no less supernatural. You lived physically, yet were dead spiritually. You had to be born a second time; and so, at the exact moment of His choosing you came forth as a new creation (II Cor. 5:17.) And now you live as one who waits for His return — the miraculous day of your yet-to-come third birth.
And a third yet to come
On that great and glorious day when Jesus returns, the dead in Christ will rise. If on that day we have died a physical death already, our dead body will come to life again. Our dead physical body will hear the command of our King as He returns and will rise to new and everlasting life! Your flesh-and-bones body (the one formed for you the first time in your mother’s womb) will be called from the grave by the supernatural power of God and reunited with your spirit (the spirit made alive for you at your second birth). You’ll hear His voice and come to life, knit together out of the grave (John 5:28) with a new and radiant body. We who know Him will be caught up with Him in the clouds of glory and will forever be with Him (I Thess. 4:13-18).
None of us has what it takes to grasp this mystery of mysteries. My mind tries, but grapples so inadequately, to understand and picture the Day of His triumphal return. Even so, my heart longs for this day of my third birth.
Held by Him
Until that Day of all days, I want to live in the knowledge that each moment and each breath I breathe is supernatural. I did not command my lungs to expand that first time on the day of my physical birth. We do not orchestrate any breath we breathe. Oh, that each moment of life would astonish us, wrapped in the awareness of it having been granted from our Father’s tender care and eternal purpose. Each breath, each moment held by Him.
Breathe in. Breathe out. And bow before the One who holds the mysteries.
Painting: Cavehill from the tow path, Hugh Frazer, Ireland (1795-1865)
Photo: my great-grandmother, Martha Elizabeth, known as Bessie, on her wedding day in 1902