It’s that time again, when I write for our local paper’s Christian Comment. As a mum of three, the youngest of whom is rapidly approaching 9 months old, I found this piece, when done, hit close to the heart.
The recent birth of Prince Louis has been celebrated around the world. All parents recognise those strange feelings of wonder and awe elicited by the arrival of a new baby. Often, these feelings begin when our mothers first discover we are on the way – and then continue throughout our lives.
Even before we begin our journey of life, from before we are knit together in our mother’s womb, God knows us; even more than she who bears us, He knows every kick, every hiccup, our waking and sleeping. He knows the makeup of genes that create our bodies, our minds, our skills. He sees, knows, and anticipates our whole lives. Before we take our first breath, He knows what all our triumphs and tragedies will be, the choices we will cherish and the ones that we will rue.
A parent’s love for their newborn child is unconditional and intuitive. It is a reflection of the love which God has for us from before we even realise we exist. Human love can fail, wither and perish, but God’s love for us is eternal and unchanging. It doesn’t matter who we are, or what we have done; before we give our first cry, His promise to us is permanence, and acceptance.
The birth of a new child is anticipated over many months; God’s anticipation for us is over all of time. Like the parent longing to hold the unborn child, God longs for us. His longing to hold us is boundless, unwaning. When a baby first smiles, it brings joy and elation; we constantly bring that same elation to God.
The Bible tells us that we should come to Jesus like little children – with their openness, curiosity, and compassion. Don’t be fooled, though: Jesus knew children, and He knew that they can be spiteful, vindictive and cruel. These qualities do not bar us from God’s love – rather, like the best human parents, God wants to coach us through these experiences, supporting us in times of trial and trauma, and helping us to grow more fully into ourselves. Like many parents, He longs for us to mature, prosper, and call Him ‘friend’.