My Chains Are Gone
My chief desire in all my writings, is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of people; and to promote the increase of repentance, faith, and holiness upon earth - J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

The Baby

A group of men and women of varying ages chat quietly among themselves while sitting in the beautifully decorated living room of their most important committee member. Their hostess is glad all the members are at this meeting. Each member brings to the group his or her own special ability. Some are born to organize, others to administrate, some to promote and buy or sell.  Each also bring a degree of personal enthusiasm and dedication. They are a formidable group. Truth be told, the church leaves most everything in this committee’s capable hands.

This group’s particular mandate is to ensure that their church has the extra money it needs to properly function. These members will even cook for the provincial missionary meetings since, as is the tradition, the missionaries each pay for their own meal. Not a large fee is charged, but, it does bring in a tidy little profit for their church. This committee’s focus is and always has been to attend to church business and, in particular, fund raising.

Most of the members know each other well and long ago worked out Who’s Who. They are now able to make decisions with little conflict or inconvenience. Sometimes the most prominent members make decisions without the newer members present, yet, the absent members overlook this undemocratic initiative. They’d rather not have the others view them as as divisive or disruptive.

When asking for extra volunteers the committee is often given reason to frown. There are few volunteers. Ever. Yet, the committee agrees that new members often bring personality conflicts and differing opinions. Or worse – requests to make a change. Given these concerns, the committee rarely vocalizes it’s annoyance over a lack of volunteers. They much prefer their own way of doing things. Their way works for them, has done for years, and that’s that.

This particular day the annual church pancake breakfast is open for discussion and they all discuss and decide to their mutual satisfaction. For awhile they outline a plan of action, present and overcome any and all objections or obstacles. They even come up with a new idea that could enhance the annual breakfast and easily raise more funds than the previous year.

In turn their gracious hostess offers her committee pots of tea and plates of sandwiches placed along side a large tray of sweet desserts. The members smile their thanks and fill their cups and plates. They have all that’s needed to make their meeting a pleasant and enjoyable experience. There is joy in doing God’s work among friends while enjoying a hot cup of tea and a tasty treat.

Between sips and bites each member of the committee speaks in turn. It’s obvious they are all enthusiastic about the upcoming pancake breakfast. As the animated discussion continues, an odd sound penetrates the room. At first only the quiet and least outspoken member can hear this new noise. Soon others stop talking to turn their faces toward the strange noise. Their faces express a mixture of curiosity and annoyance. Finally the whole committee is silent. All can clearly hear the disturbing noise that has interrupted their meeting. To their astonishment the noise sounds exactly like the cry of a baby.

The crying seems to be coming from the hostess’s front porch. She quickly moves toward her front entrance and the others follow close behind. The hostess opens the door and looks out. Nothing. She looks down. To her surprise she sees a small dirty basket covered by a dirty blanket. Out of the frayed blanket edges peers the small unhappy face of a baby. The startled hostess takes a step back, but, those behind her press forward. The hostess must now step even closer to the basket. Peering down she decides the baby belongs to one of the poor folk in town. Too often those people are unable to feed all the children in the family. Why, some even leave a baby at a rich person’s house.

The committee is silent. They look down at the rather dirty, smelly and awfully loud baby. This tiny infant does not have the sweet appeal of a newborn. It does not make the soft cooing sounds of a contented baby. It’s covered in dirty rags. In fact, this baby is rather offensive and has nothing whatsoever to endear itself to it’s audience.

The committee realizes they must deal with this interruption. Discussion begins and an attempt is made to form a plan of action. The hostess is most grateful to her friends and committee members. She’s never had such a problem on her own doorstep before. She glances again at the baby as it’s now crying with all it’s might. For the most part the committee members have tuned out the loud noise as they become absorbed in making their plans. Their main focus – what to do about that baby.

As the committee talks and plans, an exhausted woman trudges up the front side walk in front of the house. She’s tired from having cleaned houses all morning and most of the afternoon. She’s on her way home with hard-earned food for her unemployed husband and 5 children. She’s only now able to get work because she’s early weaning her baby from breast milk. After all, she thinks, what does it matter, these days her breast milk has little nourishment for her youngest. The mother reflects on this fact without bitterness. Such is life.

At that precise moment the outraged cry of a hungry baby pierces the woman’s weary thoughts. Startled, she looks up the path toward the house. At a glance she takes in the situation. She sees the fine house with the well-dressed people standing on the porch in lively discussion. She sees the cheap dirty baby basket at their feet. The woman sees and understands.

Hurrying up the front path she climbs the front stairs to sit down next to the baby on the porch. Without so much as a polite “if you don’t mind” the woman lifts the dirty smelly baby from the basket and hugs the child. She then opens her blouse and places the unknown baby to her breast. Less than a heartbeat later the baby is feeding and quiet. The motherly woman looks down on the infant and whispers a soft, silent prayer.

When the silence penetrates the ears of the chattering committee they stop talking. They look down with wonderment at the woman who is nursing the baby. The hostess thinks fast. She puts her finger to her lips and motions for the committee members to step back into the house. After they’re inside the hostess closes her front door ever so quiet. She leads her friends back into her living room.

As everyone sits down the hostess pours out more tea and passes sandwiches and sweets around. She then proceeds to bring the committee back to their earlier discussion. Remember? The annual pancake breakfast. The committee members gratefully follow their hostess’s lead. They too are glad the problem of the crying baby belongs to someone else. Soon they are engrossed in lively committee conversation.

As the meeting ends the committee members sit back quietly in their chairs. They are confident their efforts shall be successful and appreciated by their church. They are thankful to God for an opportunity to be of service to His people.

The Baby – Copyright 2005 –
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