“All of God’s grace…in one sweet little face.”
I’ve had this picture of our first-born, above, framed in our home for six years. I look at it just about every day. But yesterday I saw the photograph and the quote on the frame in a different light.
Last week, in the book Sparkly Green Earrings, I read Melanie Shankle’s account of her daughter’s birth. She wrote about one of my absolute favorite moments I have ever experienced…that moment when a newborn baby was placed on my chest for the very first time, just seconds after birth. It’s simply magical. There is no other instance in life (that I know of) when such great physical pain and such immense joy intersect so quickly. Shankle writes,
“I stared in wonder at this little pink gift, this tiny person fresh from heaven. It was as if I could still smell the angels on her, like I was looking straight into the face of God.”
The newborn days have passed. Now, we are in the full-blown toddler phase with our twins. And we are trying to figure out how to shepherd our young boys into respectful young men. I’ll be honest…the toddler thing wears me out. Especially as we double down on the ‘terrible twos’ with this interesting twin dynamic.
But even in the midst of their messiness…and in the midst of my messiness… these toddlers are a fabulous example and reminder of my relationship with God. Even now, as I look into their sweet (and dirty) little faces, I feel as if I am looking into the face of God.
Sometimes, my toddler reminds me of myself.
I remember years ago, someone told me that thinking we can take hold of a situation in life without God’s leading is about as realistic as a two-year-old trying to make pancakes on their own. Every day, I hear my daughter say, “I do it!” or, “No, mama, all by myself.” Her desire for independence is a good thing. But, when we are doing something as messy as making pancakes…it’s just a disaster. And so it is when I try to take over my own life and attempt to navigate life’s challenges and unexpected turns “all by myself”. When I’m not leaning on God, relying on Him to carry me through life, my life can get as messy as a toddler making pancakes.
Sometimes, my toddler reminds me of God.
Again, my daughter comes to mind. Our two-year-old son plays independently. He will actually ride his tricycle in the driveway or simply look at bugs alone in the yard. But my sweet girl…she pursues me relentlessly. If I’m working on the computer, she wants to be in my lap. If I’m folding laundry, she wants to be sitting right there on the counter talking my ear off. She simply wants to be near me. She wants me to be in her presence. Sometimes I get frustrated…I mean – it would be nice to go to the bathroom or take a shower alone occasionally. In the midst of a moment of frustration yesterday, I saw the light and was flattered by it. The girl just loves me. Each week in church, we say a silent prayer praising God for His mercy and His tenacious love. My child’s tenacious love for me is just a tiny taste of the love that God has for me. He simply wants to be near me. He wants me to be in His presence. I am incredibly thankful that, despite my bullheadedness, My God pursues me relentlessly too. “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life…” Psalm 23:6 (The Message)
As Melanie Shankle continued to reminisce about her experience with the pain of childbirth in contrast with the joy of her new precious baby girl, she wrote,
“I realized this whole process was such a striking picture of how Christ works in us. He takes our disappointments, rejections, and hard times, and he makes something beautiful…He blesses us beyond our imaginations, in spite of all the broken roads we’ve walked. In fact, maybe he blesses us so lavishly because of all the broken roads we’ve traveled.” In regards to her new baby, she wrote, “I looked at her and saw perfection. And love. And mercy. And grace. I had never seen the hand of God more clearly in all my life.”
In my experience with newborns, toddlers and small children, I can vouch. When I take a moment to stop and admire their sweet little faces, these precious children remind me of God’s incredible grace. Whether you have a child, a grandchild, or a little friend — I encourage you to take a good look into their face this week and find God.
Despite my desire to make pancakes on my own…And despite by my foolishness to think I could ever be better off outside of the presence of God – He shows me His mercy. His grace. And only because of the perfect life, gruesome death, and miraculous resurrection of Jesus – when God looks at me, He sees perfection. Just like a parent with their newborn.