Good news in a small package

Good news in a small package

By Andrew Camenga

 

One unexpected pleasure of taking care of a newborn is experiencing camaraderie with people you’ve never met. When the baby starts to cry, there are knowing smiles, nods of encouragement, and the occasional offer of help.

When the baby coos, there are sympathetic “aahs” from the impromptu audience. It seems that the common experience of helping a baby make it through the first year of life throws a lot of people onto the same team—regardless of whether membership in that team is obvious or not.

On a recent road trip, my family stopped at a Friendly’s for supper. A few minutes after sitting down, a man from another table walked up to us, asked if we had coupons, and hearing we didn’t, dropped three coupons on our table. As we were saying thank you, he walked away. A little while later, as he and his wife were leaving, they stopped and chatted with us for a while. When the conversation was done, they had shared their names, their ages, how long they’d been married, how many grandkids they had, and more family news.

At the same meal, I took a turn comforting our two-month-old by walking around, stepping out of the eating space, and other things you do with an infant who wants to sleep but hasn’t quite dropped off. As I headed back in after achieving at least feigned sleep, Jane, a woman I’d never met, looked from the first booth I passed and asked, “So how old is she?” I answered with the perfunctory “two months” and gave a little smile.

For the next several minutes I listened as she talked about her new grandchild, born to the eldest daughter of her husband’s first marriage. She reflected about the hectic pace she once knew when she lived in Manhattan, and how glad she is to be in a season of life where things seem to move at a slower pace. We chatted a little longer about the bane and blessing of the electronic devices that seem ubiquitous in society.

On the trip home, I reflected on both of those unexpected conversations. The presence of an obvious newborn provided the other people an opportunity and desire to strike up a conversation. They decided the baby gave them permission to talk with us. And, I’m glad they did. I learned a little bit more about life as I listened, and they clearly wanted to tell someone a little about their experiences.

As these people looked at my family that day, they knew we had good news—we had a new baby and were enjoying going about our family’s business. So they approached us and asked for a shot of information, some good news about a new life.

Yet, they wanted to do more than just hear. They wanted to talk about their good news: their babies had grown up, were doing well, and were continuing to bring joy. It wasn’t explicit, but they were offering a message of hope—that babies grow up and things turn out okay.

We know that true hope isn’t based on having children, caring for them, watching them grow up, or seeing them succeed. We know that true joy doesn’t come from the host of so many things that we can focus on: earning a pay raise, winning the race, getting the promotion, finishing the song at the recital, completing the model, harvesting the garden, or buying the car. Our hope and joy are based in the life, teaching, death, resurrection, and coming judgment of Jesus Christ.

For the last year, I’ve been praying that God will grant opportunities to speak His Good News into the lives of people who don’t yet know Him. In neither of the conversations at the restaurant did I become aware of His prompting to speak at that moment the clear truth of Jesus.

I continue to watch and wait.

But, God did remind me through those conversations that He will provide opportunities to speak with people I don’t know, and that He has placed in His creation a desire to speak and hear good news, even if many people have yet to hear The Good News.

Will you join me in praying that God will give you opportunity to speak good news to those who are ready to hear?

 

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