I want to count your eyelashes as you lay sleeping in my arms, so at peace, so content, so trusting. I love to hear your precious breathing, steady, strong, yet so gentle. Watching you, holding you, loving you, so serene and tranquil, fills my heart with great joy. Though even as you sleep here in my arms, I know that this moment will pass all too quickly. Soon you will be up and running around and tagging along with your sisters, just wanting to be a big boy and have as much fun as you can squeeze out of every moment of every day.
As you go about your toddler business, you discover so many things, often things you should not. Throughout the day you hear me correcting, counseling, redirecting, denying.
“We don’t eat paper!”
“Sit down in your chair.”
“Come show mommy how you color on THE PAPER!”
“No, you may not have cookies for breakfast.”
As one forbidden fruit is taken from you, you quickly find another and another. You offer me your impish, boyish grin and I see your great delight as you continue to discover your world. You often have no time for me as you go about your duties as a toddler, but then, in a flash, you are crying out to me, reaching up to me, lip trembling, tears streaming, waiting for me to rescue you from your latest adventure. You are asking me to make your world right again, to ease your pain, your frustration, your disappointment. Sometimes you demand I give you what you want, even if it is the paring knife you nabbed from the dishwasher as it was being unloaded, or the bleach you find in the laundry room.
I cannot give you all that you demand. There are a great many dangers out there that are so appealing. Often you don’t know what you are really asking for. That shiny blade with a handle that fits in your chubby fingers so perfectly looks so appealing, but there are dangers you do not understand. No matter how you cry, plead or beg, I will not give you what you want. There will come a time when you will be able to safely use that knife, but you will never safely drink bleach, no matter how old you are. Some things will never be good for you.
I like to think, young son, that I am a good mother to you and that I give you everything that you need (and then some) and keep you from the things that will harm you as far as I am able. Sometimes, in your endless efforts to master your world, you make me weary with the battles over the things I must deny you, the good things I must impose on you (like vegetables!) and just the day in and day out demands of a toddler.
Little son, you and I are not so different. I, too, run from moment to moment, seizing or wasting opportunities, enjoying life, looking for things to fill my time, things to enjoy. I find myself also pursuing things that are not good for me. I want cookies for breakfast instead of oatmeal, too. I see that shiny thing just out of reach and I think I want it. I spend my time trying to reach for it, pleading with my Father to let me have it ~ for I know it will make me “happy.” Like you, I often (think that I) don’t have time for my Father in the middle of my duties and pursuits. Like you, I turn to my Father when things seem to have gone completely wrong. I reach out to him when I am hurt, frustrated, scared, angry or even thwarted. Always he provides me with what I really need, regardless of what I ask for.
What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Yes, I have a Father in heaven who knows what I need, who sees the consequences of my desires and who only gives me what is good for me. I know that our Father delights in me as I do you. Of course, I want to count your eyelashes, but really, I cannot. He, however, knows the number of hairs on my (and your) head. Perhaps, he looks down on me as I do you and his heart swells with love and joy, even after I have a tantrum or pursue that which I should not and even after gently correcting me yet again. Yes, it must be true. If I love you like this, how much more does he love us, delight in us, believe in us and provide for us?
Thank you, young son, for reminding me that I too am a precious child who is loved in spite of my ignorance, self-centeredness and my willfulness and who delights our Father when I learn and grow and trust in Him.