Thursday, September 18, 2008

Black T-Shirt

On Friday, August 29th, a baby girl was discovered wrapped in a black t-shirt, lying motionless in a pile of weeds in a vacant Syracuse lot. Umbilical cord still attached, investigators estimated that she was born only a couple hours before being discovered there.

As a recent convert to motherhood, I cannot conceive what possible circumstances influenced this mother to abandon her baby. Perhaps it was poverty, drugs, abusive relationships, or mental illness. Regardless, a newborn baby, the most profound expression of helplessness, was cast into the streets. Abandoned.

One of my favorite stories of the Bible is that of the allegory between God and Israel in Ezekiel 16. God chooses to describe Israel as a baby, abandoned in an open field. Her cord was not cut, nor was she washed or wrapped in cloths. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. God passes by, sees Israel writhing in her own blood, picks her up and commands, “live!”

I was born in a sterile hospital room to two married, loving parents. My cord was cut and I was washed and weighed and wrapped in cloths. My mother held and nursed me and I contentedly rested in her arms. Physically, my birth experience was the furthest it could be from Israel’s. As I grew, though, I became increasingly aware that something was broken. My life, from an outsider’s perspective, was perfect. On the inside, I began to sense that I was truly writhing in my own blood. I heard God whisper “live” to my spirit and I began to consciously experience His courtship.

I believe that God chose to describe His people as an abandoned baby because that is what we are. We are all born into sin—our own sin with its great pull on our souls and into a world of people who are sinning. We experience the results of their sin as well. We are truly helpless; we cannot life ourselves from this pile of weeds; we cannot wash ourselves clean; we cannot “save our souls.” It is God, in His infinite mercy, who passes by us in our state and whispers “live!” God is the one who picks us up, cleanses our sins and heals our wounds.

He is the rescuer of the abandoned.

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