In the very short time I’ve been a father to Archie, there is one thing I have discovered very quickly. Babies should come with a warning – they may unexpectedly completely reshape and reframe your experience and understanding of God’s heart for you.
There are a lot of other things people tell you in preparation for becoming a first-time parent. Take every opportunity to sleep. Savour every moment. Accept help. Be prepared to take 45 minutes simply to get out the front door! All of these I was prepared for (and all of which have quickly proven themselves to be equally true and wise).
No one warned me though about the one where becoming a parent can draw us a step closer to a living knowledge of God’s heart for us in the here and now. Verses like Ephesians 2:4-5 now jump off the page and strike a completely new chord within me.
But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. So he gave us new life because of what Christ has done. He gave us life even when we were dead in sin. God’s grace has saved you.
As I hold and gaze upon my child, it strikes me that there is nothing he has done to warrant my love. Archie is not loved by me for what he does – he is loved for who he is and whose he is. As these feelings flow over me like a wave, a greater truth is revealed. If this is true for me and my son, how much truer is this of my Father and I. Of our Father and us.
God’s love, His grace, His mercy – freely given and awaiting us. Not because of what we’ve done but because He first loved us, even in our sin, our shame and our disobedience.
We don’t need to become parents to truly and deeply realise Jesus’ heart for us. Rather we simply need to allow ourselves to be His children – loved and known in his arms.