First Fruits

Last Sunday, our church held our infant dedication ceremony, and Aimee and I were able to dedicate Rosie to the Lord.  What I appreciated most about the ceremony is also what I appreciated most about the dedication class: the Children’s Ministry Director emphasized that while the church is called to help parents raise their children, it is primarily the PARENTS’ responsibility to help their children know Jesus—not the church’s. And while I’d be eager to fulfill my role as father regardless, I feel an even deeper sense of responsibility in this case because, symbolically, Rosie was born at the right time to be symbolically considered “first fruits.”

Rewind just over three years ago: Aimee and I had been trying to conceive for a while, but we still had no child on the horizon.  One day when I off from work, I prostrated myself on the floor and wept as I begged God for a child.  In that moment, as I wept and prayed, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper: “Those who sow in tears will read with shouts of joy!”

That verse was one line of Psalm 126, which says:

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Hearing the Spirit whisper that verse and bringing that Psalm to mind filled me with excitement, for in 2010, he had directed me to that same Psalm to let me know my year-long unemployment would soon end.  I was in church when he whispered a verse of it to me, and I spent some time that afternoon tracking down the verse’s origin.  After reading the Psalm, I told Aimee I thought something was about to happen with my job situation; that very Wednesday I got called back to work!  And now the Spirit was speaking this Psalm to me again!

Needless to say, I wanted that to mean that God was promising us a child, but I was also reluctant to get my hopes up.  So, I did what any doubtful person does—I asked God for confirmation.  The next day, my devotional time brought me to Numbers 23:19, which declares: “God is not a man that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Has he said, and will he not do it?  Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”  I considered this to be God’s confirmation that I had understood him correctly—he had promised us a child.

The hard part was waiting.  Then in July 2014, after returning home from celebrating my birthday with my parents, my wife learned she was pregnant.  9 months later, on April 16, 2015, Rosie Adelina Dempsey joined the world!

I wish I had recorded the days when God made these promises to us, but I didn’t.  So I have to admit there’s no guarantee I’m completely accurate about this.  If I am correct, however, God made us this promise in late March/early April 2012, and Rosie was born April 16, 2015.  This gives us just over 3 years between God making his promise and Rosie’s birth—putting her birth in the 4th year after God’s promise.  Biblically, this symbolism suggests the concept of First Fruits.  Leviticus 19:23-24 records: “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the Lord your God.”

What does all this mean for Rosie?  Maybe something; maybe nothing.  I do think it’s interesting to note scholars have suggested Jesus’s public ministry lasted three years, after which he was crucified and resurrected; thus he became a type of First Fruits.  But whether the First Fruits symbolism means anything significant for Rosie . . . or whether it was just God’s way of “winking” at me, it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that I work with God to bless her with the gift of faith, so that she’ll follow Jesus on her own when the time comes.  Any knowledge beyond that . . . is, as David put it, too wonderful for me to worry about.

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