Over the past couple of weeks, as we enjoyed our adventure in England, we experienced the joy of new life in two similar but very different ways. As we were flying over the Atlantic Ocean, headed for England, our second grandson was born. He was a late arrival; ten days overdue. When we landed in England a text popped up on my phone announcing his arrival. We were both thrilled and sad, because we will not be able to see him in person for a while. We did get to see him via video chat, which was amazing!
We arrived in England at one of the most amazing times of the year, and I am not referring to the Royal wedding. We arrived at lambing season. Everywhere that we went there were new lambs in the fields with their mothers. Usually there were two lambs with each mother, occasionally three. These new lambs were full of life; bouncing around the fields with unrestrained energy. On several occasions we took a walk on a public footpath through a field filled with ewes and lambs. We were met with both curiosity and apprehension. Often the lambs would run up close to us and stare wide-eyed at us. But when we got too close, they would bound off toward their mothers. It was truly a wonderful experience. The mothers, on the other hand, would basically ignore us, chomping on the grass, unless we got too close. Then they would gather their lambs and slowly move away.
The Bible tells us that when we place our faith in Jesus Christ we experience a new birth. It is like we get to start life all over again. We become like those new lambs. We are curious and excited about our faith. We desire to learn all that we can about Christ and about the Bible. We have unbounded spiritual energy and enthusiasm. We also experience a certain amount of apprehension. If something seems to threaten our faith, we quickly retreat to a safe place. This enthusiasm for our new life can last months or even years. But at some point, our enthusiasm wanes and we settle into a more routine faith. We continue to take in spiritual food, but with less eagerness and excitement. We become like the ewes that contentedly munch the grass while their off-spring bound around the field. If fact, we often smile at the enthusiasm of new believers, thinking to ourselves that it will soon fade into a more “realistic faith”.
I am not sure that God ever wants us to settle into a more realistic faith. In fact, I think God wants us to live daily in the wonder and amazement of the new life we have been given. Both Peter and Paul call us to revel in this new life. Peter gives full voice to this “lamb-like” enthusiasm in 1 Peter 1:3-9.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
When we live in the reality of our new birth, we see life through different eyes. There is joy, even in the midst of hardship. The reality of our new life gives us the courage to face the hard challenges of life, knowing that we are secure in Christ. He is our Good Shepherd who constantly watches over us, especially when we get distracted and wander away. Like those ewes, He is never far from us, keeping His eye on us at all times. And when we get spooked, He is there to reassure us.
New life is always exciting, whether it comes in the form of the birth of a child or the birth of a lamb. New life always gives us hope for the future, even though we know the future will be hard at times. During our time in Cornwall, we had the chance to connect with my English relatives. Part of our conversation centered around family connections, but past and present. One of my relatives was bemoaning the fact that their family name was not going to continue into another generation because of the lack of grandsons to carry it forward. Silently, I could rejoice that our name will have at least one more generation of continuance.
As believers in Christ, every time a person puts their faith in Christ, we are assured that His name will continue on into the future. In fact, heaven rejoices every time the “family” name is passed on. “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10) Let us never lose the awe and wonder of new birth. Let us not sink into spiritual complacency but always live in the reality of the abundant life that Christ has given to us.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.