Before We Are Born

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We Experience Love Even Before We Are Born

by Eric Elkin

... just as [God] chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
— Ephesians 1:4

Years ago, a friend accepted my invitation to lead a bible study for our summer staff. During the study, he told us an incredible story from his own life. I can never remember the bible verse or the theme we were studying, but the story was unforgettable. I think of it every time I read the first chapter of Ephesians.

The story he told was about his own birth. His mother had problems during the pregnancy which only got worse during labor. Tragically, the complications related to delivery led to her death immediately following his birth. He told us, as a child, he coped with the loss by telling himself his mother never really knew him, their time together was too short. 

Since she didn’t get to know him, she never got a chance to love him. Therefore, leaving must not have been too difficult for her. In the mind of a child, it was the equivalent of, at least she didn’t suffer. 

This understanding of birth came to a screeching halt when his wife became pregnant with their first child. He got to experience firsthand, the intimate bonding which takes place between a parent and a child during pregnancy. When his son was born, he realized how much his mother loved him even before he was born. Her leaving must have been the most devastating thing in the world to her. 

Even before the foundation of his own existence, his mother had loved him. Just as, even before the foundation on his own son’s birth, he loved him. At that moment the mystery of the universe unfolded in front of my friend’s eyes, and he wept for his mother.

Where do we start if we are to improve communication with children? By examining how we respond. We even know the words. We heard our parents use them with guests and strangers. It is a language that is protective of feelings, not critical of behavior.
— Dr. Hiram Ginnot

Research into early childhood development has discovered the brain of a prenatal infant can detect voices and songs. Even while they are in the womb, children are hearing and perceiving the sounds of a world they cannot see. From the first moment of birth, they study the world attaching faces to the voices they heard while in the womb. It teaches them who to trust.

New parents treat those first moments of life as holy, blameless and steeped in love. The power of the moment blinds them to the reality of life. Soon after birth, they will realize the rest of their life will be spent fearing for this child or trying to remember the purity and innocence of those first moments.

The more I walk with people as they age and near death, the more I think of ourselves as infants still in a womb. The voice of God is like a sound we detect but cannot see. A time will come where the mystery of life will unfold, and we will be able to attach a face to that voice. And, just like a new parent, this one will receive us as holy and blameless and wrapped in love.  Until then, I will walk my days trusting in that promise, just like I did before I was born.

Click to read Ephesians 1: 3-14

Reflection Questions:

  • What mystery of life have you discovered as an adult which helps you understand the world?
  • What worldview as a child do you wish you still possessed?
  • When has someone treated you as holy and blameless when you knew you were not?
  • How does hope shape your daily life?
  • Where do you hunger for hope?

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