I recently awoke at 2:00 A.M. to the sound of my sixteen-month-old daughter screaming her lungs out from her crib in the bedroom next door. She has been sleeping through the night for many months now, so I thought something had to be terribly wrong for her to be crying like this. I rushed in to swoop her up from the crib, and the crying instantly stopped. It must have been a bad dream. I decided to rock her for a bit since I couldn’t bear to lay her back down without some comforting. As I drifted in and out of sleep with my tiny toddler on the rocking chair, I had some interesting thoughts.
As any parent knows, there is nothing in this world more concerning than the sound of a crying child. I did not hesitate for a single second to jump from bed and run to my daughter in need. What can this be but a tiny symbol of the same love that God has for His children? I could not have been more willing to completely abandon my own much-needed sleep in order to see that my daughter got hers. My heart could not possibly have been more satisfied by any means other than satisfying my daughter’s heart. I was entirely happy that I had the opportunity to, in some small way, prove my love for my precious daughter. This is true love. And yet, as strong as this love is, it is nothing more than a tiny fraction of the love which God possesses for His children.
Could this be part of God’s master plan in establishing the family–to give parents a tiny insight into the heart of our Creator? We are told that we must be like our Heavenly Father, and what greater way is there to understand His most sacred heart than by sharing in the same functions He has as a parent? As I sacrificed my sleep for my daughter, I began to have a new found appreciation for the sacrifices which our Lord made for us. How happy it must have made Him to suffer for us His children! How willingly He must have embraced His cross! How far we must progress before we even come close to that kind of perfect love. How much we must offend Him when we ignore and mock that love. But how terribly His heart must ache to forgive and welcome us back into His grace!
Another angle which came to mind in the rocking chair was from my daughter’s point of view. We have all heard many times that we must become like children in order to enter into the kingdom of God. Our Lord personally welcomed children while here on Earth, and He went out of His way to praise and commend them again and again. Why are children so special, and why on Earth must we be like them? I have always struggled to understand this point as I have spent my whole life living around children. Behind the cuteness in children there is always a serious dosage of evil which parents must work extremely hard to control. Indeed is seems that children are oftentimes instinctively evil, as they are more likely to lie than tell the truth; disobey than obey; and be selfish rather than generous. Parents must take the length of the entire childhood to teach their children how to conquer these evil impulses, so how does it make sense that we need to be more like these unrefined children?
I think it has finally dawned on me that the answer to my question has a lot to do with love. We all have a significant amount of evil within us, and we will all have evil tendencies in us as long as we live in this world. Adults are not better than children simply because they have learned to control some of our evil tendencies. For every evil that we conquer, ten more arise within us. We may eventually learn that we have to tell the truth and obey our parents, but by that time we have undoubtedly picked up countless other bad habits. Children are not better than adults because they commit fewer sins. Rather, children are more pure in the eyes of God because they know how to love.
The instant I picked up my daughter from her crib she stopped crying. All it took was simply my touch to completely bring her back from an utter meltdown. She laid her head on chest and was entirely satisfied and comforted. She was smiling and peacefully back asleep within seconds. That is love. My tiny daughter’s tiny world revolves entirely around her parents. My wife and I are her everything. This is how a child loves a parent, and this is how we must love our Father in Heaven. How humbling it is to witness the perfect love which my daughter has. How much we all have to learn from her tiny little self. We are God’s children, and we must learn to love Him in the same way that a child loves a parent. Our love must be unconditional and absolute. Our lives have to revolve around the life of our Father in Heaven. We must live for Him and for Him alone. We must run to Him as a child runs to their parent whenever we are in need of the smallest helps. We must learn to rely solely upon Him and be comforted by none other than Him. And when His consolations do come our way, we must learn to react as a crying child reacts to the comforting touch of her most beloved parent.
It is quite ironic that I have spent so many years of my life earnestly seeking understanding in these matters, and yet it takes a middle-of-the-night trip on the rocking chair in my daughter’s bedroom to discover the truth as I dose in and out of consciousness. It is rather humbling indeed to realize that my puny intellect is capable of nothing on its own. Our gift of understanding is just that, a gift, and it is only dispensed as God sees fit. We each have to learn to possess the humility to see ourselves as simple children of this infinitely good God. We must learn to model our love for God after the love of our children for their parents. Those who are parents have the wonderful blessing of being able to have a small insight into the heart of our Heavenly Father and should thus have an intensified appreciation for the love which God bestows upon His children. Regardless of whatever our state in life may be, let us all run to our Father with our outstretched arms begging Him to pick us up and hold us forever close to that most sacred of all hearts.