Being born is a reality-altering event in your life. The dark confinement, the warmth, the safety that you have always known in the womb are left behind, never to be returned to. A new reality of heretofore-unimaginable breadth and depth and height, of sensory explosion and unfathomable learning, lays before you like a vast plain whose seemingly eternal range houses intricacies to be explored, the possibilities and combinations without end.
It is a great difficulty, of course, this new way of living. It is one without limits but also without safety nets, a living that holds as much travail as it does triumph. But truth be told, it is a reality only available if you are born. There is no continued life inside the womb beyond those nine months. Only death.
Being born again is much the same. The confinements and limitations of our sin-filled womb, as comfortable and familiar as it may be, must be left behind, never to be returned to. What lies ahead is a new, eternal reality, the breadth and depth and height of which is beyond our imagining. The reality of this new living is as different from our old living as running through a meadow of flowers and bees in the July sunshine is different from stretching a leg inside our mother’s womb.
It is exhilarating, but also terrifying, and unfathomable without birth, without growth, without trying and failing countless times before.
It is no wonder, then, our reluctance to do it. It is no wonder, then, our disbelief in this new life offering in Jesus Christ. With Nicodemus we throw our hands in the air and cry, “How can this be?!” Even in the Church, the gathering of sanctified believers, we find this to be a difficult thing to believe. We cling to our mother’s breast, eyes tightly shut and knees drawn up to our chests, unable to comprehend the freedoms and sights and tastes that await.
This new reality will remain terrifying and unfathomable- even nonsensical- as long as we only ever learn of it through the words of others. For us to live, to live abundantly, as God intends, this new reality must be experienced. We must open our eyes and look around and ask questions and observe colors and light and nuances of shade and shadow. We must stretch out legs and arms and kick and pull and push and lift; we must rise up and learn to balance, learn to stand, learn to walk, to run, to climb, to leap! We must taste apples and green beans and cheddar cheese and bacon and grandma’s home cooking and birthday cake and garlic Parmesan bread and spicy Thai peanut noodles.
This new reality will remain unfathomable and unbelievable, and we will continue in our unbelief, until we decide to try it, to experience it, until we decide to live in this reality.
To experience the Kingdom of God, we must once again be like children, attempting the impossible without actually believing it to be impossible. We must be willing to learn, to learn how to live, to learn how to embrace this new reality as our reality, the reality we were meant for all along. We must learn to thrill at the newness of it all. We must be willing to fall countless times, determined to get up and keep trying because walking is better than anything we have ever done before.
We must be born again.