My pastor has a daughter named Eden.
(Yes, like the garden of Eden.)
She is three years old now, and she is the cutest bundle of flesh and bones I have ever seen. She sports an awkward bowl cut and has pale pink lips that always seem to form themselves into a pout. Often her hands are filled with food or someone else's iPhone playing a re-run of Blues Clues. Eden is a ball of sass and baby fat, and she knows how to use all of it to charm her way into whatever she wants — usually it's food or Blues Clues.
If you want her to like you, you must play hard-to-get. Hugs and kisses must never, ever be freely or easily given. She'll smell your eagerness a sanctuary away and use it against you. I learned that the hard way.
Some Sundays I'll arrive and see that she is just having an awful morning. Her cheeks are stained with dried tears and her fists are clenched tightly. She'll shoot you an evil glare if you even just look at her the wrong way. On those days, even Blues Clues and candy can't bring her to a smile. The only thing that really seems to work is when her dad picks her up and holds her in his arms, slowly rocking side to side.
There was one Sunday when I witnessed that exact moment and it was so intimate it stayed with me for weeks. Her dad bent down and swooped her up from the ground, into his arms, and I saw the physical transformation take place as her frown was immediately replaced with a content grin. It was as if he scooped her out of her complete angst and misery in exchange for fresh air and warmth. She knew she was safe in her father's arms. She felt comfortable, whole, and good.
That moment stayed with me because I've been there before. Something magical happens when we know we are in our father's arms. Comfort, safety, and peace come to mind.
Now I know father analogies are always tricky because a lot of us don't have great relationships with our dads nor do we want to compare God to our dads. We live in a broken and fatherless generation. But God made us with the innate need and desire to be accepted by our dad, maybe not our worldly dad, but our Father almighty. So this story is for you, too.
Proximity is our constant urge to be closet to Dad, to touch his beard and to hold his attention. It is a primal desire that we never outgrow. More than doing and performing, we long to be near him. — Kevin DeShazo
In Romans, Paul reminds us that we have been adopted as children of God. We are heirs of his kingdom. And the different groans in our hearts -- frustrations, sadness, anger, confusion -- are all heard by a God who also desperately wants to reach out and scoop us out of our own misery. We were never made to hustle, we were made to be held in his arms.
Today, I dare you to take a risk and believe that to be true, and run into the set of arms that offer relief and comfort. A place where you can close your eyes and replace that frown for fresh air and contentment.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a]And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” Romans 8:15