Rev. Nate Sell

By Rev. Nate Sell, pastoral resident

I recently went backpacking with John Alexander for a night in the Linville Gorge. It just so happened that the night we picked to sleep outside was one of the few nights that the temperature fell into the mid-teens — a frosty night, indeed!

John spent the night in a summer weight sleeping bag, while I was in my zero-degree rated sleeping bag.

As I went to sleep, the thought crossed my mind that I hoped John did not freeze to death. “Sure hope the church isn’t deprived of a good organist!” I thought.

Then I rolled over and drifted off to sleep, not a care in the world. I am not a worrier by nature.

Except when it comes to the baby….

Contrast this with my experience of becoming a father. I’ve been a daddy for just a few short months, now. And one of the most striking things of this major life change is that I have never worried so much in my whole life.

I didn’t think it was possible.

When we brought Allie home from the hospital, I would just watch her when she slept to make sure her little chest rose and fell. When she sneezes, I get concerned. I wake up with a start in the middle of the night and check on her.

And she is a very laid-back baby as far as babies go! She hardly ever cries. (She seems to have taken to heart my admonition that Sells do not do drama).

That said, when she does cry it tugs on my heart strings in a way I didn’t think was possible. It’s a strange and terrifying and wonderful thing to worry about another so much. It’s safe to say that I am smitten.

A bigger love

I think about this kind of love that cannot be willed into existence or explained and am reminded that even as powerful as it is, it is a shadow of God’s love for us.

I am reminded by 1 John telling us that, “beloved, we are God’s children now.”

In Hosea we see God like a mother, saying, “yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms… I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to feed them” (11:2-4).

The God we worship is one who would gather us up as a hen gathers chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:7), whose steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 118), who is literally dying to love us (John 3:16).

Something wondrous

In this Lenten season and in this season of being a new and proud father, I think of one of my favorite hymns: “What wondrous love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul? What wondrous love is this, oh my soul?”

Some things cannot be put into words.