Most Excellent Theophilus
“Here you go.”
… the nurse unceremoniously dumps my one minute old, newborn son into my unsure arms on her way to tend to my freshly postpartum wife. I look at my son’s face and I remember what many of my friends who have also recently become dads remind me to do, “Cherish that moment when you hold him for the first time”, “holding your baby for the first time is just… wow…”. But, as I stare down in disbelief at this tiny face that looks so much like my own, I am overwhelmed with just one question, “What am I supposed to do with this?”. There is no feeling of immediate attachment or warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside. Instead, the 7lb 13oz human in arms feels like the heaviest weight of responsibility in my arms. Questions begin to swirl and build up in my head, “Is that it?”, “Am I supposed to be a father now?”, “Am I holding him right?”, “You’re just going to let me take him home like this?”, “What name should I even call you?”.
Later that night I ask Rene tentatively, “Do you feel attached to him? Do you love him?”. Of course she does. As much as I wish it were so, the feeling is not mutual.
“Could you change him and hold him for a little bit please?” Rene implores me with a tone that matches her tired, droopy eyes. I can barely hear her as Theo shrieks to inform us of his need for a new diaper… or maybe he’s hungry? Check that, perhaps he’s tired? No, maybe he’s cold?. The rhythm of my life now closely resembles his. I sleep when he says I sleep. We eat hurried, nervous meals, worried that at a moment’s notice his cries mean that we will return to cold dinners. We have taken to referring to Theo as a “potato” as he spends much of his time bundled up tightly in a swaddle. A “potato” that doesn’t let us sleep for more than an hour. I am tired and I can’t seem to think very clearly, or very much at all for that matter.
Theo is six days old and I am to preach tomorrow. I am reading the sermon notes that I had written two weeks ago. I can’t remember anything. “Where was I going with this?”, “LORD, I am so tired. How can I deliver your Word faithfully tomorrow?”. I am preaching on the parable of the Prodigal Son who has become estranged from his father. I push away the creeping thoughts that suggest that I am becoming an estranged dad.
Most Excellent Theophilus
We are showered with many gifts and blessings for Theo, one of them sticks out in my mind. An artistic copy of the Gospel of Luke published by Alabaster Co. On the card is scrawled Luke 1:4, “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”. A not so subtle nod to our son’s namesake, the original recipient of the gospel of Luke, “most excellent Theophilus”. Rene and I have chosen it because it is our favourite gospel and we hope that someday when our own Theophilus reads it, that he will see that we have also addressed it to him. The note reminds me of the things that I have been taught. “LORD, have you addressed Theophilus to me so that I may have certainty and experience the things that I have been taught?”
I have often preached that love is not a feeling. Rather, it is a choice. God chooses to love broken, tired, ungrateful, selfish potatoes like me. I cry out to him and lament my circumstance and the perceived difficulty of my life yet he gently, tenderly, and graciously reminds me of who He is – so that I may have certainty concerning the things that I have been taught. Love is a choice and some days it doesn’t feel great but I love my son, most excellent Theophilus and more importantly, I love my God who chooses to love me.