The pangs of childbirth. I remember them well. I’m not supposed to, of course. It’s a pain I was told I’d forget. At least, that’s what my mother said. Maybe she had stronger drugs than I did.
In my case, the pangs began weeks before the baby actually came. Braxton Hicks and all that. Then there was trouble breathing as the growing little one encroached on my personal space. I ate less, moved less, slept less, all in preparation for the final debut. A few days before each of my children’s unveilings, labor began in earnest and, seventy-two hours later, we both had our freedom. It was time. Each baby needed his freedom, I needed them to have their freedom, we both needed our independence. And when they arrived, we were so proud. Everyone offered us their congratulations.
Insert twenty plus years of childrearing here. Then imagine a few years of ‘birth pangs’ before they each staged their next debuts. You can label those ‘the teen years’. Little by little, our kids grew into the adults they were always meant to be, stretching the limits and taxing our patience in preparation for their launching. Each kick against the goads of our restraint was an uncomfortable reminder that they would soon be capable of the unimaginable—living on their own, independent of us. The more painful the pangs, the more we all longed for them to have their liberty. And when it finally happened, it was time. Our children needed their freedom, we needed them to have their freedom, we all needed their independence. We missed them, but we were so proud of them. And we offered them our congratulations.
I thought that was the final birth story. But I missed one.
I see now that death is the final birth in life. It seems unimaginable at first. This time, it’s me who kicks against the goads of an uncontrollable event set in motion against my will. I don’t want him to leave us. I can’t imagine this world without him. The void will be so big, so alien, so. . . lonely. But this time, this revealing—his debut as the new man in Christ he’d already become in spirit—this is the true freedom. The more painful his pangs, the more we all longed for his liberty. He needed his freedom. We needed him to be free. And so . . . it was time.
His independence day came. His ultimate birth. His resurrection. His welcome home party.
We’ll miss you, Dad. You fought the good fight. You ran the race. You finished the course. You held fast your faith. And now you’re free. We’re so proud of you.
I have fought the good and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have firmly held the faith. As to what remains, there is laid up for me the victor’s crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me. . . 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (Amplified Version)