Babies are the coolest humans. I can claim this as a fact because I have one at my house. His name is William and he is my nephew. He loves doing the same things as I do: eating the meat lover’s pizza from my local pizza parlor, dancing and listening to my favorite jams on repeat, and watching Netflix with me on the couch in our pajamas. You may be thinking that he doesn’t really have a choice in all of these things – he is only a year old after all! But I can tell by his little smirk that he absolutely loves doing all the things I love.
His third word, after saying dad and mom, was MY name – “Ahhhley”, an almost exact baby-speak match to Ashley. Now you could say he was slightly influenced, bribed, or even coerced into saying this. I guess whispering my name in his ear as I rocked him to sleep over a period of six months, while promising to take him to Disneyland one day, does kind of taint the story. Deep down, however, I really believe that it was always meant for my name to be the third word out of his mouth.
Right now baby William is learning to walk.
It is amazing to watch him focus, squint his eyes, and push all of his power up through his fluffy little legs. Lifting his chest up, he will flail his arms about as he finally balances his unsteady body. He’ll take a few shaky steps and as his mind realizes he is actually walking, his little legs begin to wobble. Hastily, he kicks out a few shuffles before impacting with the ground. Gather strength. Rise. Walk. Fall. Repeat. It is quite the fascinating process to watch.
As I do with any topic that captivates me, I Googled “the science behind babies learning to walk.” Part of the “science,” I discovered, is that falling is required in the process of babies learning how to walk. Babies of the crawling or scooting type have to fall in order to learn how to rise again. They must make themselves vulnerable, exposing themselves to the harm of falling before they can succeed. Vulnerability is a requisite to their growth!
At this time of year, we as Christians have shifted our focus upon this season of Advent. Advent is well known as the time of preparation; we are called to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.
Christ, the child. Christ, the Son of God, sent to us in the most vulnerable form of a human being – a baby. Jesus, as a newborn, an infant, once learned how to walk. Jesus once reluctantly let go of Mary’s fingers as He hastily took those first shaky steps, slowly learning the vulnerable process of walking.
Jesus would learn to walk as an infant so that He could one day again let go of His mother’s hands as an adult and humbly walk the Via Dolorosa, a path that we, in our sin, paved for Him.
Jesus gathered strength. Rose. Walked. Fell. He repeated the process as a baby as preparation for the day He would gather the weight of the cross on His shoulders. Rising. Walking. Falling – again and again.
Jesus’ vulnerability is a requisite for our salvation.
And if we are to call ourselves Christians, to be like Christ in all things, then our vulnerability of opening our hearts to Christ is a requisite for our salvation.
If there is one act of preparation I can make this Advent it will be one made from a vulnerable child. It will be an act of God’s child willingly handing over her fragmented and rigid, weary, and ruptured heart; a heart that so earnestly wants to yield all of its failings from falling to a heart full of love, hope, forgiveness, and mercy.
It will be an act of giving Him the only present He wants from me this Christmas, the presentation of the heart of God’s child to the heart of the child Jesus.
Are you with me?