NOTE: This post was written before Malachi, their son was born. He is now born, but I think it's important to share the thoughts I was having at the time before his birth.
This is the Davis Tribe, seen and unseen. This is their first child and their first son. It has been a delight to excitedly await his arrival. The more I have gotten to spend time with Rebekah and Hunter, the more beautiful and holy the coming of their son has felt. My husband and I haven't had a child yet, but it has been a real treat to think through what I assume the Davis's must be thinking, learning and growing in as they wait. It is so interesting to me how much can be done in the waiting. So often, in thinking about receiving a child, I expect the real growth and change to happen inside the parents' hearts once the child arrives. While I do think this is true, I think that there is a vital re-posturing that the space of waiting allows for. Think about the difference between one of those moms from those crazy reality shows where they somehow don't know they're having a baby and "poof!"--all of the sudden they are in labor...versus a woman who found out she was pregnant in the first term and has been expecting to deliver all along. There is a vast difference in posture and approach, and thus a vast difference in the receiving.
The subject of waiting seems to naturally address what is coming in this season: Christmas. The coming of a child, the coming of God. This year I decided I was going to prepare for Christmas early and buy my gifts ahead of time, rather than hurry to get something last minute and be stressed about not having all the gifts I need for the entire month of December. Along the way I hoped it would free my thoughts to be more observant of Christ rather than dwelling on all the gifts I need to buy. While I have figured out some of the gifts, there is still more work to be done. I'm pretty sure this is a common struggle, especially when you know a lot of people, and it feels like there are so many gifts to give. I've experienced how easy it is to get swept away in the current of gift giving (in which I think there is good learning, too) and to only glance by the waiting room (Advent) as we rush to the delivery (Jesus' Birth). If we bypass the waiting room and just show up to the birth without any real mental, spiritual or physical preparation we lose the very gift that comes from waiting and we arrive unprepared to receive well.
Almost every year at Christmas I'm asked for a gift list. So I give a list that has been researched, thoroughly thought out, and refined. A list I have put my heart and hope in. Most years I ask for a couple things that are more expensive than something I could get myself, and thus desire it over everything else I ask for. We so often desire the precious things we cannot afford. With such high and specific expectations you will not be surprised when I tell you that I have often been disappointed and heartbroken each year when my expectations are not perfectly met. In past years I have tried to avoid the pain of my disappointment by doing all sorts of things, most of which are just trying to be more self controlled in my thinking, telling myself I will be okay if I don't get what I want...but it never works. No matter how hard I try and fight there still is a small feeling that I got jipped or that my list receiver just doesn't understand me. I know, my heart is horribly terrible in its greed and desire for things at times.
But I don't think that my approach is too foreign. I think Israel could relate well with me as they were waiting for their Messiah. Israel developed a lot of thoughts about who they wanted their Savior to be and what they wanted him to look like and do. When he showed up and didn't meet any of their expectations, they crucified him. God's gift to Israel was rejected because the gift wasn't what they had expected. They probably expected a militant political ruler who would gloriously lead them to victory; instead they got a humble carpenter whose glory lay in his sacrificial death and resurrection.
That is the tension isn't it? That in advent we wait in great expectation and what comes is a baby. A crying, pooping, snotty-nosed baby. Did you know babies can get acne? Baby Jesus could have had baby acne...bet you didn't expect that from the Christ. I think what I am getting at is that as we are waiting, just like Rebekah and Hunter, there is a posture of heart that we are meant to take up so as to best receive what comes to us on Christmas day. We are meant to wait for his coming, for his gifts for us in a posture that says, "Your way is greater than our own, whatever you give is best." And we know this truth to be firm, because time has borne witness to it. I know that Rebekah and Hunter aren't glued to their son looking a certain way and having a certain skill set, etc. I know that they are just excited to see and meet him and see what kind of man the Lord wants him to be.
Think about what growth can happen as we contemplate his coming, as we fully inhabit and dwell in the waiting with this sort of posture. I don't just mean busying ourselves so that time rushes by us and the Christmas day surprises us with its presence. I'm talking about a moment to moment expectancy, an open hand, from this day until Christmas. How would that change us? The waiting room can be a hard and uncomfortable place to inhabit. Maybe for some of us the waiting for Christmas is uncomfortable because of what the cultural celebrations will imply for us or maybe people we will have to face, or brokenness we will have to re-enter. But I think that now is an important time, and I think the Davis's understand this well. It is a time to prepare and make room for a Holy arrival from a good and perfect God who is more than aware of how to best address our needs. Now is a time to prepare for a celebration of the newness of life, and for the peace and hope that comes when the invisible is made visible. We don't always know what his gifts will be, but we can be certain that whatever form they come in, they will be good.
Before you look at the pictures you should know that this wasn't a Christmas shoot, this was simply a maternity shoot that I originally had no intention of relating to the coming of Christmas. It's just where I was led as I sat down to write.
Below are the pictures of a beautiful family in waiting. Of a couple that has been preparing the hearts and making room for a sweet precious baby boy, whose presence will change lives, theirs especially. Please join me in delighting in this family and allowing these pictures to move you to a posture of eagerly and joyfully waiting.