As we all know, a gunman recently stormed into the Century 16 Theater in Aurora and shot up something like seventy people, leaving 12 dead and an entire nation wounded. Soldiers come home from Afghanistan and Iraq missing limbs. A neighbor is diagnosed with cancer. People suffer the most horrifying and violent losses every day—this world is ripped from their grasp or perhaps they are cut off from this world.
In the midst of it all, there will be a call for action—gun control or less gun control, legislation, better safety procedures, diatribes against violence in movies and video games…. And then, someone will say, “This is no time to sit around gazing at our navels!”
I don’t want to be disrespectful or trite, but perhaps it’s the perfect time for gazing at our navels. Perhaps this whole world is really just about that—Navel Gazing.
Your navel is a scar testifying to an old wound that has healed. The scar marks the place where you were once attached to another world; a womb world.
Martin Luther said something like, “If an unborn baby could reason, surely he or she would wonder, ‘what are these hands for? …these feet for? …this mouth for? …these lungs for?’” You see, hands, feet, mouth, and lungs serve no practical purpose in the womb. They make no sense in the womb. And there’s one other thing that can’t be explained in the womb, or by the womb, and that is sound from outside the womb. When my first son was born, prematurely and through intense tribulation, he wouldn’t stop crying. He wouldn’t stop crying until the nurse placed him in my arms and said, “Speak to him, he knows your voice.” I spoke his name and immediately he stopped. He knew my voice. Imagine. He had heard it for months in his womb world. Each night I used to speak to my wife’s belly, “Hey Scooter, can’t wait to meet you. Love you. See you soon!” Imagine. Everything in his womb world would vibrate to the sound of my voice, yet my voice could not be explained by anything in his entire world—that womb world.
Are there things in this world that can’t be explained by this world? Longings, hopes and desires in you perhaps? What about Truth? (How do you know Truth is true?) What about reason or beauty? Or how about Love, real Love? Perhaps God is Love… and He is your Father.
Well anyway, voice, hands, feet, mouth, lungs… unexplainable and entirely impractical in the womb world.
Yet there was one thing that would seem very reasonable and entirely practical, indeed, an “inalienable right” in that womb world. And that would be the umbilical chord, attached to the placenta, attached to the wall of the womb. Genetically, the placenta and umbilical chord are a part of the baby, even though they deliver life from beyond the baby and the womb. If a baby could reason, surely it would think, “These hands, feet, and mouth are rather superfluous, all I need is this awesome chord. It’s my everything! It brings me oxygen, nutrients, blood, life…Everything.”
Well then, imagine the trauma of being born: Your world begins to literally expel you. It closes in on you, crushing you and propelling you into an environment that would’ve once destroyed you. You literally exhale one world (amniotic fluid), and then, inhale another (oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.) Your eyes are flooded with light more brilliant than anything you could’ve imagined. It’s likely that someone slaps you as you inhale that new world and your eyes burn in that brilliant light. And then, the unthinkable happens. A man takes a knife and cuts you—cuts you from you; that part of you that attached you to your world; that one indispensable, most practical, entirely reasonable part of you—your umbilical chord.
When my first three children were born, I got to cut the chord.
Did you know Jesus is “The first born of all creation?” (Colossians 1:15)
That means that when Christ was crucified, we watched the birth of our older
brother from inside the womb—pain, trauma, death and yet the beginning of Life. And that means that when Jesus rose and appeared to the disciples, He testified to life from beyond our womb world. And when Jesus rose from the dead, He showed them something. Do you remember what He showed them?
He showed them his wounds; His scars; “the stigmata;” that place on His Body where He had been cut away from this world; wounds, from an event which symbolized death in this world, but the beginning of life in the real world. He showed them the stigmata of the second birth.
You have stigmata. We all do. According to Scripture (Song of Solomon 7:2), our Lord even finds it rather sexy. It’s your belly button, your navel, the stigmata of the first
When my first three were born, they screamed and cried, I cut the chord, a nurse
bandaged the wound. I held them in my arms and spoke. Immediately they stopped crying. When my fourth was born, I heard no cry, the doctor’s face filled with dread intention, and I was not allowed to cut the chord. My baby was blue. Save for the quick work of those doctors and nurses, he would’ve soon died. He was being strangled… by the chord.
Just think: the very thing that was life in the womb world, was strangling him in the real world. Perhaps there are things that bring life in this world but might strangle us in the real world—attachments. Perhaps we see them cut away from time-to-time. And even if it happens at the hands of those seduced by death, it happens under the watch of our Father, who speaks into us, Faith, Hope, Love and Life in the midst of travail. You see, it’s critical that you surrender the things of this world so they won’t keep you from breathing the atmosphere of the next world. And it’s critical that you learn to love the Father’s Voice in this world, so that you can rest in His arms in the next. And don’t worry. People are not simply “things of this world.” Indeed we won’t even know them fully, until the next.
Well the doctors cut my son’s chord. He gasped for air, cried in shock, was placed in my arms, and I spoke, “Coleman, your home.” Then, we held balloons with our hands, danced with our feet, ate ice cream with our mouths and sang with our lungs. And check this out, seventeen years later: Coleman never mentions his umbilical chord. He doesn’t even miss it.
Now I know it’s profoundly painful and far more nuanced than one cute little story… and I’m not saying there aren’t many practical things we should “do.” I’m just saying take some time to gaze at your navel. Lift your shirt and talk to your navel! Say, “Umbilical chord, you used to be everything to me, my food, my life, my blood… but I don’t need you anymore!” Then look up at this world and the things of this world and say, “World, you used to be everything to me, your approval, my food, your things, my life; success, my addiction… but I don’t need you. I’m being prepared for another world!” Then look to the Light and listen for the Voice of your Father, “I am Love and you are mine”