So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Created in the image of God, we share His likeness in many ways. We are intellectual, with the capacity to know and to reason. We are emotional, feeling a wide range of emotions, sometimes all at once. We, even the most unorganized of us, like order in some way. We are creative, taking a blank canvas and creating a masterpiece, choreographing steps into graceful dances, and putting together ordinary notes to make a symphony. We are relational, operating best when in community. When we look at God, we learn about ourselves, and so it only makes sense that as we look at ourselves (the pure parts), we can learn a bit about God too. I experience this most in my role as a parent. Sometimes I just can’t help but think about the relationship God has to His children, to me, when I am relating with my own children in some way, even from afar.
Last week I experienced a lot this as I was camping with my kids. Sometimes I clearly saw how God relates to me, His child, while other times I was left to ponder, “I wonder if God…?”
Much of my time at camp was spent alone. Brianna and Ben were at overnight camp from Sunday through Thursday and I was given strict instruction (especially from 12 year old Brianna) to pretend not to know them if I saw them around, not acknowledging them in any way (It sure was a surprise when Ben ran right up to me excitedly showing me something one day). It is totally un-cool to have your Mom on the grounds while you’re at camp! Make no mistake; I didn’t stay because I am overprotective in any way. While they were at overnight camp, Jeremiah attended Summer Adventure Camp from 8am-5pm. Since the campground in an hour and a half away, I wasn’t going to drive him there and back each day. Instead, I enjoyed my days reading, working, enjoying the outdoors, even taking a few naps and he joined me during the evenings for cooking over the fire, hikes, bike rides, and board games until we fell asleep to the sound of crickets and toads (one night I heard the squeak of a bat, that was NOT so pleasant).
Many times during the week, I heard children having fun from a distance. The sound of kids having fun during free time—lined up for four-square, running around the playground, splashing at the beach—drifted across the lake as I paddled with a friend in a boat. As I lay in bed at night, I could hear squeals and laughter from a hayride in the dark. What amazing sounds, ranking right up there with the songs of birds, chirps of crickets, and distant worship! I pondered, “I wonder if God gets such satisfaction listening to his children?”
One day, I trekked down to the Trading Post for a snack. While my hot stuffed pretzel (why are they sooo good?) was being warmed, the lady working started up a conversation about Jeremiah. He had been in many times that week for his daily (at least) snack. She was telling me how much she enjoyed it when he came in. She told me how well-mannered he was. I thought she was just being friendly when she rubbed her arms as if she was shivering and said, “It just gives me the chills to talk about him, he is just so good and special. There aren’t many kids like him.” Then I knew we weren’t just exchanging pleasantries, but she was genuinely telling me of the joy Jeremiah brings. I couldn’t help but walk away beaming, “That’s MY boy she’s talking about!” My pretzel would soon fill my tummy, but my heart was already full. It is just a wonderful feeling to hear good things about your kids! As I sat down on a bench overlooking the lake I pondered, “I wonder, does God feel equally as happy, does He fill with pride when somebody speaks highly of one of his children?”
Another afternoon, I sat beside the lake reading a book. Looking down a little ways, I saw a group of kids on the beach when something special caught my eye. Ben was buddied up with Jeremiah for swimming. To go swimming during children’s camps, it is mandatory that each kid have a buddy. Every few minutes a “buddy check” is called and the kids are counted as a way to make sure everybody is safe and accounted for. Ben had plenty of kids to choose from. After all, he was at his very own camp. Not to mention, the kid is never lacking for followers. Everybody loves Ben (except Brianna, hey, I bet God and I share some feelings about sibling rivalry). He was in no way obligated to pair up with his little brother. Jeremiah loves to swim, is as friendly as you can imagine, and has many close relationships, but mostly with adults that have chosen to love him. He struggles to connect with his peers. So, that day, when Jeremiah wanted to swim, but didn’t have a buddy, Ben chose to come alongside him. This momma was so excited to see that act of love from one of her children to another, and once again I pondered how God feels as He watches us. “I wonder, does God rejoice when He sees one of His children help another?” Yes, yes, I think He does, He even tells us to do it. The verse that immediately comes to mind is Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Perhaps the most impactful of the experiences as a parent that taught me about God was during our last night. “Is it gonna be ok?” a scared little voice asked. Wind was blowing, rain pelting the camper as lightning flashed and thunder crashed. Jeremiah climbed into my bed and repeated the question, “Is it gonna be ok?” He was scared of the storm. As I held him, I offered some assurance and before long he still and his breathing deepened. I knew he was resting. His rest wasn’t because an overabundance of assurance from my words. I couldn’t promise the storm would leave us unscathed. Our shelter was a 30 year old, $300 pop-up, not all that sea worthy. Plus, there always seems a bit of a mess to clean up outside after a storm while camping. His security came from my arms, from my presence.
As I continued to lay awake I thought about the security God offers just by His presence. I also thought about how satisfying it was when my child came to me to find security and rest when he was fearful. I pondered how God might find satisfaction when we approach Him with our fears. That picture changed my whole perspective on bringing my fears to Him. Often I have read the words “fear not,” “do not fear,” or “be not afraid” with a sense of condemnation because well, I have fears. As I held my child in my arms, thankful that he had come, I heard those words from the Lord in a new light, not one of condemnation, but of invitation. Instead of a Father putting His thumb down, exerting His power, bellowing out a command or sometimes worse, belittling my fears, “That’s nothing to be afraid of!” or “Quit crying about that!” I heard, “Come! Sit with me. Bring me your fear, find security and rest in My presence.” What a contrast! How easily I then I offered my fears to my Father, taking the invitations to come, the sounds of the storm soothing my soul as they reminded me of the power and majesty of the One to whom I spoke.
I had many wonderful times throughout the week, but these times pondering my Heavenly Father, experiencing His love for me through my own love for my children and the feelings that elicits were by far the best. The ordinary became extraordinary. Perhaps after reading you will spend some time pondering these same things, or you will have a new view of approaching God with your worries, fears, and concerns. Maybe you will begin to look at your ordinary moments with a potential to become extraordinary as they help you to encounter God in a new way. I pray it be so.