Originally published in Pulpit Helps, May 2008.
The totality of gestation and birth is an amazing process that is literally packed with miracles. (Just because it happens to everyone doesn't make it less of a miraculous process.)
Here are two examples-one involved in the process of supplying oxygen to the pre-natal baby, and the other helping the baby transition to breathing on its own.
We know, of course, that while the baby is in the womb, he receives oxygen from his mother. This breath of life is transported from the mother's lungs, through her blood stream, down to a marvelous membrane, the placenta. Here, the two bloods-mother's and child's-meet but do not mingle. This is truly a miraculous, designed process-but it is not our topic for today.
Instead, I want to introduce you to two systems built into the baby's body which were designed by the Master Builder to function only once in the baby's entire life. Just once. But they must work on that unique occasion, exactly as designed, if the baby is to grow up strong and healthy.
The first system consists of a hole in the baby's heart, together with flaps of tissue ready to close the hole at the proper instant. Before birth, some of the oxygen-rich blood coming from the placenta pours into the right ventricular chamber of the heart and through the hole into the left chamber, to be pumped out through the baby's arteries to every part of its body.
Just enough blood entering the first (right) chamber trickles down into the lungs to help them develop for the tremendous task they will assume as soon as the baby starts breathing on its own. But immediately after birth all of the blood entering the right chamber will be directed down into the lungs, there to pick up a cargo of precious oxygen, and then back up to the left side of the heart, and thence out to the arteries.
Obviously "stale" blood returning from the veins must not be allowed to go directly to the left ventricle, without passing through the lungs-the hole in the heart must be closed! And it is. Some mysterious command is passed to the muscles controlling those waiting flaps, and they extend and seal the hole. Eventually, new tissue grows across the opening, and the heart is ready for a lifetime of operation.
Not all of the pre-natal baby's blood can go through the hole between the chambers, so God provides a short bypass from the first chamber, allowing this oxygen-rich blood to flow directly into the arterial system.
But the supply of oxygen from the placenta is cut off in the birth process, so this bypass must be eliminated quickly. And our Maker has provided for this: A special muscle surrounds the bypass tube, and when the command comes-from whence or how nobody knows-this muscle tightens and the tube is closed, permanently. Eventually, both tube and muscle will disappear.
The interesting thing is that neither of these closure mechanisms can be tested or "broken in" beforehand; and neither is of any use to the body, either before or after their one-time use. How could they have developed in an evolutionary process?
No amount of trial-and-error development could ever have brought about such wonderful systems, in which lungs are developed against a future need, without any immediate purpose, and bypasses come equipped with their own means of self-destruction.
We are, as Psalm 139:14 reminds us, "fearfully and wonderfully made"-and if our hearts are right, we will give credit where credit is due: we'll thank and praise our God.
If you think about it, He went to a lot of trouble to have us brought into this world!
The Old Scot (Ted Kyle) served as managing editor for Pulpit Helps magazine (Disciple's predecessor publication) from 1993-2008. He was always fascinated by the natural world, and readily saw God's hand in every detail. Ted went to be with His Creator and Savior in April 2013.
Sources: "The Wonder of Life and Its Endless Varieties," in Behind the Dim Unknown, edited by John Clover Monsma, G. P. Putnam's Sons, NY, 1966, pp. 21-23. Atlas of the Body, Rand McNally, NY, 1976, p. 151.
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