Many people told me that being a parent would teach me a lot about God and His relationship with us. One year in, I feel like I am just starting to take small sips from the fire hydrant of all the lessons the Lord will teach me through little Riley Grace.
Today was one of those sips.
In the quiet of the morning when everyone else was asleep, Riley and I were playing in the Walton’s Lobby at Rockbridge, where we’ve accompanied Jordan at his regional IV staff conference. The Walton’s Lobby is awesome for parents, it is filled with all sorts of kids toys, books and games! So, definitely the place for Riley and I when she’s up at, eh hem, 5am. And we don’t want to wake anyone up.
In this lobby, Riley found a half empty bottle of “Fanta,” and of course it immediately became her favorite toy. Here’s a little secret about toddlers: they tend to favor toys that aren’t even toys. You feel like such a good parent buying them new and cute little toys. Fail. They’d much rather play with Tupperware and sticks and Fanta bottles. (So family, don’t even buy Riley anything for Christmas just look around your house. Or your yard. Find something that looks random and boring and she’ll love it!)
So she’s carrying around this empty Fanta bottle and then she sees a ball on the floor and gets excited about it. She moves the Fanta into one hand and picks the ball up with the other hand. And then she just starts walking around looking so proud of her findings (and of the fact that she’s walking so well now!). It was so cute. I couldn’t stand how cute it was, so I crouched down and opened my arms wide, hoping that maybe she would come toward me and show me her new favorite toys.
She didn’t show me her favorite new toys.
Instead, as soon as she saw me put my arms out, she dropped the Fanta bottle and the ball, and as fast as she could on those adorable little legs, started walking toward me with her arms wide open too, with the biggest toothy smile on her face, until she was close enough to just dive into my arms. There was so much delight written on her face.
It melted me.
I’m not sure she’ll ever know what that moment did to my heart. I don’t know what she was feeling in that moment, as fleeting as it was (with toddlers, everything is fleeting), but I will never forget how I felt in that moment. So full of love and pride and joy and just… 100% pure pleasure.
I thought about it all day long.
And of course, the more I thought about it, the more I thought about the beautiful analogy that it was. I thought about the fact that the powerful way that I delighted in her in that moment, is the same way that the God of the Universe delights in me. The fact that His response to me as His child was to crouch down onto my level (becoming human), and open His arms wide (on the cross), beckoning me to Himself.
But unlike Riley, I am often hesitant to drop the simple life pleasures and pursuits that I am holding onto. I get too distracted to make haste into His arms, and fail to trust that He will catch me if I dive in.
“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” –Mark 10:15