For the past few days Clara’s gotten her best sleep in my arms. Sunday night I spent the night on the couch while she slept in my arms. Yesterday, instead of working from home like I was supposed to, I spent the day holding Clara in my arms so she could nap. Thankfully we have cable upstairs now because I was able to watch parts of Tomb Raider, Flyboys and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, along with parts one and two of “Time’s Arrow,” a great two-part episode of The Next Generation.
As I was lying on the couch at 2:00 in the morning wondering if I would get a decent amount of sleep, I found that I didn’t really care. I was more than happy to have a bad night’s sleep because it meant that I got to hold my sweet girl in my arms. I was just at a wedding this weekend and while the bride danced with her father the next 25 years flashed in front of my eyes. Pretty soon Clara won’t need me to hold her in order to sleep, and soon after that she’ll move out on her own. I want to cherish and cling to these moments as much as she clung to me while she slept.
I previously wrote that we don’t need to have children in order to understand God’s love for us. We only need the cross to understand how much God loves us. However, being a father has brought much more nuance to my relationship with God. I don’t understand his love for me any more deeply, but that love has taken on different impressions since becoming a father.
Lying on the couch with sleep escaping me, another nuance came to life.
I love the image of crawling into our Heavenly Father’s arms. That image has brought me tremendous amounts of comfort over the years. Just the thought that we can securely rest in God’s arms, finding comfort in the shadow of his wings as the Psalms tell us, is life altering. But as I held Clara in my arms, I realized that God gets something out of the experience as well.
Clara feels secure in my arms; secure enough to fall asleep. But I got so much joy from simply being with her, holding her in my arms and providing her with that sense of security. Granted, Clara didn’t really have much of a choice; it’s not like she could have hopped out of my arms and gone back to her crib. But in those moments, I didn’t feel any animosity, I didn’t begrudge her for wanting to be in my arms; I simply enjoyed holding her and experiencing that closeness.
I imagine God feels the same way when we crawl into his arms.
Obviously we get so much from spending time with God and crawling into his arms. We get a sense of peace and security, shielded from all the turmoil that we might experience in our lives. Crawling into God’s arms doesn’t completely remove the hardships from our lives, but it does give us the ability to move forward, trusting that God will be with us.
When we crawl into God’s arms, though, he also gets to spend time with us. He created us and he loves us. He wants to be in a relationship with us so much that he sent his son to die for us. So it’s not like he begrudgingly holds us when we admit that we need him. I’m sure he can’t wait for the opportunity to hold us and give us a sense of safety and security.
He probably likes holding us even more than I like holding Clara. Because like I said, Clara doesn’t really have a choice at this point. We, on the other hand, have plenty of choices. We can turn to God or literally to anything or anyone else. God must smile when we choose to trust in him for our peace and security instead of a person, money or sin. Instead of rolling his eyes when we come to rest in his arms, God must stand there, as Creed told us, with arms wide open.
I don’t want to always have to hold Clara in my arms to get her to sleep. In fact I wouldn’t mind sleeping in my own bed while Clara slept in her crib tonight. If I have to hold her while she sleeps, though, at least I’ll be reminded of Gods love for us and that he wants nothing more than to hold us in his loving arms.