A few weeks ago our church family received some wonderful news. We’d all watched a video clip of a past segment from the TV show, The Biggest Loser. A participant said that he believed he and his wife would one day have children of their own, in spite of a long wait.
And now, as the picture left the screen, here was Johnee Auvale standing before us announcing that he and his wife, Tenealle, were at last expecting their first child!!
How excited we all were! We gasped, cheered and clapped. Some jumped up from their seats with joy! All of us praised God for his great blessing on this lovely couple.
What a desperately long time they’d waited, while dashed hopes alternated with high aspirations for their precious little one. Tenealle already had baby clothes that she’d been saving since her teens: all she’s ever wanted was to be a mother. Now in her quiet way, she joined her husband on the platform. We’d often seen her cuddling a friend’s baby and Johnee had the same habit! ‘Just getting ready’, he’d smile.
Later I thought of another father and his great expectations for the birth of his child. What plans he made! For years he dropped hints that there’d be a special baby…one day! He let many people in on his secret. They recorded his promise and composed songs about it. He hoped everyone would be glad about his baby!
He planned a spectacular drama for the arrival. A full-page newspaper advertisement wouldn’t be enough. This father organised an angel to make the announcement, accompanied by a host of other angels in a splendid tableau out in the fields. He wanted the world to know how important this moment was!
On the other hand, he had an amazing sense of the dramatic. Played out against the wonderful angelic praise and the millenniums-long anticipation, his baby was born in a lowly place. He provided no cot; the child slept in an animal feed-box. There were no fancy garments to wear, only a few spare grave-clothes. The mother was a humble girl and he entrusted his precious baby to her and an ordinary chippie! The first people to pay their respects were the excited shepherds who heard the angel’s message.
The father also made sure there were some rich men following a special star he’d placed in the sky. It would lead them right to the place where the child was. How wonderful that they arrived in perfect time with expensive gifts for the baby and his poor family. They’d soon use them to escape from a cruel, jealous king. It’s hard to understand why everyone wasn’t thrilled to hear about the birth of Jesus, the long-awaited child.
But there were still some people who believed the promises and were hoping to see him. Since the first mention of the father’s promise, a great yearning had risen up in the hearts of the people. When would the saviour come? His father was none other than the living God, and they cried, ‘How long, Lord?’
I know many couples wait with a similar longing. Johnee and Tenealle and lots of others can relate to that heartache. And God really does understand. I have a feeling that he shouts for joy when parents can hold their child in their arms and thank him for his gift. I won’t be surprised in February next year, if Johnee has his guitar out, ready to sing songs for their baby! He and Tenealle will be praising their loving heavenly father!