As a new mom, I was desperate for one thing: sleep. I would fall asleep exhausted and wake up tired. My agenda for the day was planning potential naps. My husband and I would go to great lengths to induce sleep in our son Charlie. Elaborate bath and bedtime rituals. Car rides. Snuggly pajamas. Pacifiers. My husband would walk a marathon each night around our living room, pacing and bouncing Charlie to sleep. Yet despite the inescapable exhaustion of young motherhood, I look back at those moments with fondness.
There is nothing quite as sweet as rocking a baby to sleep. Hands relax and become still, and the body melts into a state of relaxation. Breathing becomes slow and rhythmic. Eyes even seem to relax, glazing over and staring off to the distance. Blink. Slow Blink … slow blink … close. Face relaxed, body relaxed, a soul in complete rest within the arms of another. This is a picture of perfect peace and stillness, of the deep sense of comfort, belonging and innocence of a child.
So when God calls us “child,” he’s given us a living, breathing picture of how we relate to him. To relate to God is to relate as children. We give ourselves over to his care. We relax completely within his loving arms. And we are able to receive his comfort and love. Imagine that! God of all creation. God of all power. God who could choose to call us servants or slaves, but instead calls us his children.
Before a child learns discipline or rules, before they learn to be independent or manage themselves, they learn two things: trust and love. Babies have every physical and emotional need met by another. This teaches them trust. Babies are held, delighted in and cherished for nothing but simply being alive. This teaches them love.
We expect nothing from our babies, but we adore them as if they were giving us the greatest gift on earth. This is a picture of the foundation of our relationship with God.
Does it involve discipline? Sure, just like any good parent disciplines their child. But it always starts with love. I don’t wait for my baby to follow the rules before I rock him to sleep. And I don’t ever withhold my love while expecting him or her to perform. Neither does God.
That’s why our identity as children of God is one of the most beautiful labels God gives us. Perhaps that’s why God gives us a picture of how we receive him in Psalm 131:2: “But I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me.” You are never too old to be rocked by your Heavenly Father, who delights in you as his child.
Nicole Unice is a ministry leader and author of three books, including the upcoming Brave Enough book & DVD Bible Study, releasing in August 2015. You can find her blog, books and speaking schedule at http://nicoleunice.com.