Last Monday, September 28, ended our long wait for the arrival of our fourth child. He turned out to be Jesse Immanuel Liechty Sawatzky, another big, beautiful boy.
Thinking we knew the date of conception, we had been expecting Jesse a day or two from September 8. Accordingly, we had made arrangements that Anna's mother could be with us for the birth and surrounding days; she arrived on August 31. However, as Jesse stayed inside, it became clear that she would have to extend her stay--something she had to do twice (Thanks to the Elkhart, Indiana school district!). She is now scheduled to leave on Friday.
Based on our expectation, Jesse came late. Perhaps also we produced some worry in friends and family who wondered why it was taking so long. We, too, struggled against our worst fears and had to seek assurance many times throughout the month of September. Yet, we decided that the baby was fine: Anna felt great and Jesse was moving. The wait was difficult, but we believe in waiting.
Perhaps nothing is as difficult for us in the 21st-century as waiting. Information is instantaneous in the internet age. In terms of birth, the medical establishment seems increasingly hostile to the experience of waiting--the rates of induction and caesareans are higher than they've ever been. Why wait if technology and expertise can minimize the disruption to our schedules that is birth?
There are many good reasons to wait--for example, that technology and expertise can't minimize disruption but may, in fact, create greater, more unwelcome disruptions--but for us it boils down to an affirmation of faith, a dogged insistence against the overwhelming weight of conventional wisdom to the contrary, that God still rules the world. With Paul, we "want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings . . .." We want to endure the suffering that waiting can be if it brings us closer to the God who loves us.
Many things brought us back from the pit of despair as days turned into weeks. In terms of scripture, I found myself again and again in Psalm 27. Its closing became for me a word of strong defiance against fear, and, somewhat paradoxically, a gentle assurance of God's presence.
"I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" (vv. 13-14 NRSV).
We did see the goodness of the Lord. We did come to know again the creative power of God, the power that calls into being the things that are not and raises the dead. We came to know it in Jesse, a baby named "Immanuel", "God is with us".
We came to know it through waiting.