like a child

It was unbelievably early one autumn morning, still dark outside, but I was wide awake. I was eight months pregnant with our second child and at that “happy but uncomfortable” stage—probably not sleeping because of my squashed bladder or my aching back. I wasn’t the only one awake, though. Two little feet were padding down the stairs. Two dark-chocolate eyes were looking for me.

“Mama,” my almost-three-year-old whispered in the loud, stage-whisper of toddlerhood, “I wanna watch the sunwise with you.”

How could I say no?

I made tea for me and a sippy cup of milk for him, pulled two chairs close to the window, and we sat, snuggled side-by-side, content to watch the early morning glow expand on the horizon. A bit later, my husband stumbled into the kitchen to see if we were ok, and Barret looked up and said in a serious, solemn way, “I’m spendin’ time with my mama.” Daddy knew enough to smile and leave us to our moment.

Fast forward to now with my son in high school. Some days are triumphant with aced math tests, laughter among friends, and dreams of the future. Other days are exhausting with marching practice in the Texas heat, arguments and hurt feelings, and worries (his and ours) over the path to adulthood. One thing remains the same, though. He still needs time to just be with his parents, sometimes to talk everything out and sometimes just to draw strength from us, to know we’re in his corner, loving him and supporting him.

And I find that I’m no different. I’m still a child that needs to know I’m loved and that I have someone in my corner no matter what’s going on around me. I still need time with those closest to me here on earth, including my own parents who are still a big part of my life. Even more than that, I need time with the Ultimate Parent.

King David wrote in Psalm 131, “My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.”

Savor that for a moment.

Put yourself there, leaning into the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Still. Quiet. Trusting.

If we’ve been in a friendship with God for awhile, we’re hopefully moving beyond the stage of round-the-clock fussing like an unweaned infant, demanding to be fed. (My new-mom-friends, I promise a day is coming when your whole schedule won’t revolve around when your baby needs to nurse.) We begin to grow up a little as we come to trust God’s goodness and love for us. We begin to react with a bit less panic and desperation to every circumstance even when it’s beyond our understanding. But we don’t lose our childlikeness in our relationship with God even as He helps us grow beyond some childishness when it comes to fear and distrust.

That means there will still be a deep-seated need to rest in the calm and security of the Ultimate Parent, like a preschooler snuggled next to Mom with his sippy cup. Like a middle-schooler dragging into the kitchen for a hug after a long day. Like a high-schooler daring to share his dreams about the future. Like a 40-something reading God’s promises for herself and her family.

And just as we won’t turn away from the precious children in our care, our God promises to give us Himself and His strength, too:  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

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