Pregnant with the Purpose of God

(The Christmas Story–like you’ve never heard it before)

By Dr. Ron Woodworth

A number of years ago, while studying for a special Christmas message, I happened to notice Galatians 4:19 where Paul uses the analogy of pregnancy regarding his apostolic agony,

“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”

This immediately led me back to the record of Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus,

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus…The angel answered, ‘”The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”  (Luke 1:31 & 35)

Finally, I remembered Colossians 1:27, which describes the mystery of our new birth, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of thismystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

As I pondered the connection between these verses it occurred to me that just as Mary was literally pregnant with Jesus so too is every believer spiritually impregnated by God with his divine purpose—Christ in us, the hope of glory. Eureka! I knew I was on to something good. I then researched the New Testament to see if I could discern some similarities between Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus and God’s dealing in our own lives regarding the birthing of his purpose in us.

To my delight I noticed a number of things that I have come to call “phases” in the process of birthing the purpose of God. And, though the phases outlined below are not an exact science, it is at least somewhat descriptive of the mystery of God’s moving in the life of every believer who yearns to “bear fruit” for God…“You did not choose me, but I chose you [just like Mary] and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last forever.” (John 15:16) May the Lord Jesus take these principles and unfold them in your personal experience for his glory. Merry Christmas!

Seven Phases in the Process of Birthing the Purpose of God…

The first phase is a time of spiritual conception.

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

The key point here is that impregnation is the result of intimacy. As you and I spend time in the presence of the Lord, in his word1 and prayer, we cultivate a willingness to serve and honor God above all others things. This willingness was reflected in Mary’s attitude when she graciously responded to the Lord’s promise that she would birth something great for God. Notice her humble willingness in her simple reply, “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be unto me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38) In other words, “Lord I would be honored to serve you in this regard. Please use my life for I offer it willingly and wholeheartedly.” May the Lord grant each of us such a heart of devoted service.

The second phase is growth in obscurity.

The nine months of gestation within the womb of a mother is necessary for the child to fully develop prior to birth. During this time the mother must, among other things, be careful to eat a healthy diet (vs. junk food), take appropriate prenatal vitamins, get plenty of rest so as not to be weakened by physical exhaustion, avoid dangerous fumes (1st and 2nd hand smoke, paint, household cleaners, pesticides, etc), exercise but be careful to avoid overexertion, avoid excessive stress –both emotional and mental, no drugs except by Doctor’s order, no alcohol or caffeine, avoid reptile contact, hot tubs, microwaves, etc2 

In essence, the mother must take care of herself, by altering her behavior, for the sake of the baby. This loving self-denial is necessary to avoid premature births and miscarriages. My friend, if you and I are to birth God’s purpose it will require loving sacrifice of self in order to keep the plan of God from being undermined by our, or others, misguided zeal. In other words, we must patiently remain in the womb of God’s formation (of character) until it is time for our revealing, or birth. (Luke 2:42, 51-52 c.f. Luke 3:23) Remember this season of obscurity is for our protection so that we can be fully formed before we come into contact with the forces of the world that would oppose us. In other words, When it doubt…wait it out. Or again, if you don’t know…don’t go. Selah.

The third phase is a difficult labor period.

“The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.” (Revelation 12:4b)

Jesus spoke about a mother’s difficulty in childbirth as a “time of pain and anguish,” which thankfully is soon forgotten for the joy of embracing the child she has delivered (John 16:21). Indeed, the difficulty, or travail in labor is part of the reason why the mother must build and maintain her strength during pregnancy. For during this time of labor, the Scripture indicates that satan will try to take advantage of both mother and child—or in our analogy–of both you and God’s soon to be revealed purpose in your life. This will require great perseverance [lit. to persist through severity], especially during the end of the labor period, in order to come safely through any sorrow and travail necessary for the birth to be effected. In other words, the brokenness of sorrow and grief will be ours as we seek to allow God’s purpose to be birthed in us.

However, the situational sorrow and grief will be short-lived as we rejoice to see what God has done in and through our life–in spite of everything and everyone. Furthermore, sorrow and grief will become an endearing sign of God’s gracious dealings in us [one could almost call them a friend] from then on as we gratefully see past the affliction of the moment to the broader purpose God has accomplished in and through our life.

The prophet Isaiah said of the Messiah (Jesus), “He was a man of sorrows and familiar with grief and suffering…[and yet] After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.”(Isaiah 53:3a, 11) May God grant all of us perseverance and protection during the difficulty of our labor period in birthing his purpose.

“I walked a mile with pleasure. She chattered all the way. Leaving me none the wiser…for all she had to say. Then I walked a mile with sorrow. Never a word said she. But oh the things I learned that day. When sorrow walked with me.” (Song by Barry McGuire)

This leads us to the fourth phase, a lowly birth, but with joy.

“…the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)

Corresponding to the Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, the purposes of God are born in lowly places. Another way to say it is: The hinge of history hangs on the door of a Bethlehem stable. Not many will be present to sing your praise or recognize your accomplishment when your time of birth has come. But deep within, you will have the abiding joy and peace that you have done what the Lord has requested…and that is reward enough.

Closing Story…

There is an old story told of a Christian missionary who was retiring from a lifetime of missionary work overseas. Exhausted and with health waning because of age, the missionary boarded a ship bound for his homeland. Aboard the ship was a high ranking dignitary from the same country who was also returning home. Arriving at the harbor of his home country, the missionary heard a large band and saw huge crowds who had gathered to sing and celebrate the arrival of the dignitary. However, there was no one there to greet the weary missionary.

With a tinge of shame and grief the missionary utter a prayer of muted agony, “Lord, I have served you my entire life. I have given my heart, soul and strength in your cause to win the lost to Christ. And now upon my arrival home there is no one here to so much as greet me—whereas this ambassador has not ceased to receive the highest praise of his country men upon his arrival home.”

And then from deep within his spirit the saddened missionary heard words he would never forget again…“But my son, you’re not home yet.” Needless to say, the missionary went his way with great joy and comfort realizing that his reward was not just in this life, but in the one to come.

Our Journey’s Goal

By Ron Woodworth 

I met the Lord at Calvary, suspended on a cross;

T’was there I saw his agony, for love he suffered loss.

I turned and He did walk with me–we walked and walked and walked.

Through all the laughter, toil, and pain; We always seemed free to talk.

 

‘Till then one day in contemplation I turned and asked the Lord;

For all the time you’ve spent with me, what is this journey’s goal?

Just then his eyes caught hold of mine, and tears he scarce could hold,

“I’ve walked these years to bring you here,” Was the story that he told.

 

And then with solemn majesty the Lord took off his crown;

And placed it on my head as he did slowly turn me ‘round.

And there I saw my journey’s end; Oh blessed wondrous sight;

A lonely cross upon a hill—to the world it was my plight.

 

But as I walked closer still my hand the Lord did hold.

The cross seemed precious to me indeed; More precious than much fine gold.

For there I saw a place for me though glory I had sought;

But his reproach in life to bear was the reason I was bought.

 

Let the Lord be magnified

Ron                                                   


[1] God’s word is actually the “seed” with which his purposes are birthed. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)

[2] Web article entitled: Things you should do and not do during pregnancy. Retrievable at http://www.bygpub.com/natural/pregnancy.htm]