I don’t know how, but I seem able to fall off both ends of the spectrum, almost at the same time. I can try to take control and make things happen, forgetting that God is the one who gives life. And I can think that I just need to get out of God’s way, forgetting that He actually loves and wants me, not just space to do His work. The two-fold wonder of the incarnation helps me understand the miracle of the truth.
God puts His life in us. Incredible! We, frail and sinful beings, become temples of the Holy God, vessels, carriers, showcases of His life. What God did in Mary, He does in each of us. He comes close and places his very own life in us, a life that grows and cannot be hidden, a life that, in some senses, is born all the time in our words and our doings, yet is never born out of us. We who are His carry within us always the token of His passionate love for us, the promise of eternal union.
But the wonder is greater still, for He did not merely borrow Mary’s womb for nine months, as great an honor as that would have been. He did not simply ask for space within her in which to grow His own life. No surrogate motherhood, this. He asked not just for a womb, but for an egg, that most intimate image of her self which could be completed by the seed of another to create new life. God merged deity with Mary’s egg to make a God-baby that resembled her and reflected her human limitations and beauties as well as the character of God.
Do you hear the miracle? God does not merely put His life in us, a foreign being in the host of our body. He does not ask us to get out of the way, give Him space, wanting only to “use” us as a carrier for His own life. He loves us! He loves the way He has made us; He delights in us, cherishes us. And so He comes closer still, closer than one person carried within another. He unites Himself to us, His being interwoven with ours no less completely than the genes in the egg and the sperm are mingled and intertwined in the growing embryo. Christ is in us as totally and inextricably as deity and humanity are merged in the God-man Jesus.
This miracle of grace means many things:
We who are His can no more be separated from Him than can the maternal and paternal genes in the new baby. We are His forever, always held.
His strong genes, paired with my defective ones, keep mine from inducing a lethal condition.
And this: The particular way Christ’s life appears in me is as much about who I am as about who He is. There are “dominant genes”; if God is truly the Father of the life growing within me, that life will be marked by increasing love, peace and joy. And yet many of the other features of the life formed in me are inherited (rightly!) from me. God delights in this as much as a loving husband delights to see his wife’s red hair and dimples mingling with certain of his own expressions in their young daughter. For this is love: not that it gives itself with the expectation of remaining an intact self, but that it gives, willing to take the risk of union, of being broken and mingled with the being of another, in order to create out of the love and being of both something new.