You can lay your head on my chest,
You can feel the warmth of my embrace,
You will know my love,
You will find rest,
In Me Alone, In Me Alone
Having a son has been an emotionally disruptive experience. Prior to becoming a father, I shed a lot of religious baggage, and preconceived ideas about God. I accepted the futility of trying to be a good Christian, and actually began to experience this thing we call unconditional love.
And it changed me.
But then I had a son. And holding that son as a newborn, a young baby, and now as a toddler, has challenged my perspective of God once again.
I don’t think I truly lived until I held my baby boy in my arms and watched him go to sleep. Such peace and security on his face.
Now he’s a toddler, and when I help him to pray before bedtime, he mimics my tone. If I whisper “Dear Jesus”, he whispers “Dear Jesus”, trying to be just like his daddy. He’s not just dependent on me, he’s excited to be with his daddy.
You can’t not be changed by that.
When I consider what it must feel like to be Austin in that moment, I realize that I have never felt this way with my Heavenly Father. And I suspect that many others have not either.
Many of us become Christians with the image of a Heavenly Father tainted by our experience with our earthly father. And we are quickly told that we must mature, and become ready for meat, not milk.
In doing this, our heavenly childhood is cut short and we skip right to becoming adopted adult children of a God that we’ve never grown up experiencing as Daddy.
Austin will someday see me as Dad instead of Daddy. But his image of me as Dad, will be shaped by years of being held in my arms, looking at me as Daddy.
That experience, being held in daddy’s arms will be a foundational part of his emotional makeup. It will shape how he sees the world, and eventually, how he sees God. Part of my job as as his daddy is to make sure that he experiences God in that same way.
Have you ever felt as if you were being held in this way by your Heavenly Father, can you call Him ‘Daddy’, without feeling strange? Do you feel too old for that? Or maybe it feels like calling a stranger by a very intimate name.
I believe that this is an experience He never intended us to grow out of. Surely we mature, we experience more complex emotions, and face more difficult experiences with our faith.
But there’s power in that experience of feeling loved as a thoroughly dependent child, with our head on Daddy’s chest, listening to His heart beat, with no expectation other than that we just sit there and be with Him.