The Circle of Life
Recently online I saw the most endearing clip of a very young baby valiantly ‘carrying on a conversation’ telling his parents all about something. Most of us remember back to that adorable stage where those beautiful big eyes are locked on your face: baby watches, listens, frowns in concentration, and responds to your every word and movement. We felt an overflow of protective warmth and satisfaction in being able to ‘be there’ for this new little life and that same emotion recurs even as we relive it in memory.
The little noises they made, the grunts, the groans all the while waving hands madly, sometimes hitting themselves in the face---yet they continue determinedly trying to communicate. And we pretended we knew exactly what they were saying, and carried on our end of the ‘conversation.’ And sometimes frustration set in and bub’s little face puckered up and out came the little squeals, moans or tears. It was then that we gave them a cuddle, a kiss on the forehead and told them: “we’re here, it’s ok—we understand.” It is one of the beautiful stops on the journey of parenting, (or perhaps auntie/uncle nurturing) that we are given in this life.
Babies determinedly gaze at the face of their parent and try to communicate—not just with voice, but with every movement of their wriggling little bodies. Sometimes they may be in their cot, sometimes in a pusher, sometimes in a room by themselves and suddenly they start making assertive sounds to bring a face near to them, someone they can interact with. Not all interaction is sober, sometimes it is playful, sometimes with giggles, sometimes with groans but it is all about bonding with and learning from.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that interaction, and juxta positioning it with the conversations we have with our Father. The protective desire, the joy of seeing the awareness of hand control, watching the understanding of new concepts develop that we enjoy as parents can only be super-magnified as we try to fathom what Father feels for us as we feebly try to communicate, wave our arms madly, and give way to frustration in our communications with him. The difference is He doesn’t have to pretend to know what we are trying to say: As it says in Romans 8 TPT “...at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words. God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet he also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, his holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan…” We are in the same position as that little baby, the only thing that really works, gives comfort and help is to lock eyes with our Parent and seek his face.
The book of Psalms gives us many examples of David doing just that—sometimes in frustration or agony sometimes in joy and praise yet always openly working through his thoughts and emotions with his heavenly Parent. The word ‘prayer’ has become, down through the generations, a ‘holy’ word—not thought of as everyday conversation but something done in a special place, or particular position, or time of day. David was a musician and he sang to God, he played music to God, he danced to God. Like many musicians he was naturally in touch with his emotions and unafraid to express them. His anger, his disappointment, his tears, his fears, his frustration, his errors, his joys, his gratitude, his awe of and praise for his Rescuer regularly made it into the conversations he shared with God. There are so many heart-warming examples-- one of my favourites is Psalm 56 (TPT). As is evident in the first part of this psalm David is in a hard place, being slandered (fake news is not a modern invention!) and hunted down and vilified. Having rehearsed those things in detail he goes on, “You’ve kept track of all my wanderings and my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost. For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance…this one thing I know, God is on my side!... what harm could man do to me?... So I’m thanking you with all my heart, with gratitude for all you’ve done.” David’s psalms are real—the list of his fears and frustrations is formidable, yet he talks through it all, writing prayers, songs and poems-- some dark, some joyful—all being real with God, trusting him to understand, guide and rescue—always seeking his Parent’s face for reassurance, for help, to make things better.
“Only the most mature of us are able to be childlike.”