How He Loves Us

While I was preparing to share a word from the Lord at my friend Nicole's shower last week, He brought me to a precious verse that speaks so clearly about the kind of parental love He gives us and He has for us.

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."  Zephaniah 3:17

It's a verse I've heard many times, it's even been set to music and is one I can remember word for word because of that.  In context, it's a verse that speaks beautifully about the coming hope we have one day, when the Lord will gather His people after He removes his hand of judgement and He himself will live among His people again.  But after reading it and re-reading it and praying through it, He helped me draw out some further truth that I hope will bless you like it did me. I'm quite sure I'm not the only one who needs to be reminded today of how great the Father's love for us is...

Because I was preparing for a baby shower and because I've been thinking back to a year ago, when I was just days away from welcoming our little Carter into the world, the Lord reminded me of the precious instincts He gives us when we become parents. 

When that sweet baby enters this world and pierces your heart for the first time with cries of fear and agitation, no one has to teach you to fall in love with them.

"...He will take great delight in you..."
As we catch our first glimpse and reality hits us squarely in the depths of our hearts, the tears flow, the heart swells and the world stops.  In the hours and days that follow, nothing else matters to you but that little life cuddled up in your arms.  To delight in them is as natural as breathing.  Every little finger and toe, a work of art.  Every noise or sound, music to your ears.  This tiny person is yours, given to you by the Almighty God, entrusted in your care for a lifetime and as you wrap your mind around the miracle of it all, He gives us JOY like we've never known.  He does it because it's an emotion we need to love our children, it's a way that we provide comfort and stability for them, and it blesses us too.
  But more than that, I think He gives us the ability to delight in our children, so that we get a taste of how He delights in us.  Because He does delight in us (Psalm 147:11, Psalm 149:4)  And He wants us to know and believe that He does.  Plenty of people will be disappointed in us, will get let down by us or just won't like us.  But Jesus isn't one of them.  He takes great delight in His children...

"...He will quiet you with His love..."
When I became a Mom for the first and second time, one of the sweetest things was knowing that no one else could quiet my baby like I could.  As they filled the air with those newborn squawks and squeals, my head immediately turned to to where they were and without a moment's hesitation, my feet took me to them.  A gentle cradle, a warm embrace and whisper of "Shhh, shhh, shhh...I'm here, it's ok, Mommy's here" would quiet them right down.  No one has to teach us to bend low to our babies and pull them close.  Out of the resources of our love, we know to scoop them up and speak over them bringing them comfort and establishing that trust between us.  How do we know to do that? 
As we act out an instinct that is God given, He provides for us and for our children but He also reveals one more aspect of who He is.  He shows us that just as we struggle and cry and fret, He wants to quiet us with His love too.  Isaiah 40:11 tells us that He is like a shepherd, carrying his lambs close to His heart.  Psalm 116:1-2 reminds us that He hears OUR voice.  When we cry out to Him, He turns His ear to US and listens.  And when He thought of us and made Adam in the garden, He came down to us, stooping over the dirt and gathering it to form man, before He bent over and blew life into us (Genesis 2:7).  We quiet our babes with our love, because that's how He quiets us too.  He demonstrates His love to us in so many ways...

"...He will rejoice over you with singing."
One of the best surprises of parenthood, is the ability you never knew you had to look at your children and feel such pride and joy that you want to burst into song!  I can only equate this to feeling like a Disney character, namely like Giselle from Enchanted.  As a pot that is boiling often runs over, so does the emotion of a parent.  With joy, we sing silly songs with our kids.  With love, we sing lullabys over our kids.  With pride, we shout songs of victory when they obey.  Being a Mom or a Dad requires a willingness to sing.  Not because it is or isn't your best strength but because it makes your kids smile or unwind.  For their benefit and yours, you sing over them. 
And so it is with the Lord.  To think that the Creator the universe, the Infinite, Sovereign God who holds the planets in place and hangs every star is also aware of YOU, is incredible.  But to think He also sings a love song over you, because of you, is tender.  As we obey Him and honor Him, He rejoices over us.  As we become the people He created us to be, He sings with pride over us.  The One who gives us a song to sing, has been singing over His cihldren for generations. 

As I pondered these three basic instincts of a parent, I caught a greater glimpse of my Father.  He instituted the family, He designed the order we should follow as He builds them, and He creates the precious babies whom we are charged with raising and nuturing and protecting.  But in His great mercy and wisdom, He didn't do it without giving us instructions to follow and an example to experience. 

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save..."

He is with us.  As I encouraged my friend Nicole, He is with us in the labor and delivery room.
  He is with us with when that little baby won't stop crying and you've tried everything.
He is with us when your family leaves, your husband goes back to work and these little people are depending on YOU.
He is with us.
(Isaiah 41:10, 13-14; Isaiah 43:1-5, Joshua 1:9)
A year ago, I was overwhelmed. 
I knew in my heart the Lord was with me, but I was desperate for Him to show me that He was mighty to save.  I knew He was my Faithful Savior and I trusted Him for my eternal salvation, but I needed to know that I could call on Him for daily salvation too.  Not because I doubted a salvation that reconciled me back to God through Christ Jesus, but because of my sin that so easily entangles me, I knew I had to get out of bed every day and function.  I knew that I couldn't do this last year alone.  I knew that Travis and I couldn't survive in our own strength, either.  But as we've watched the seasons come and go, and as those little itty bitty people have grown right before our very eyes, I'm assured that the Lord MY God is with ME, and yes, He is MIGHTY to save.  In every way.
"O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you.  Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress." Isaiah 33:2

Being a Parent makes me love and appreciate and marvel at the love of my Father and they way He displays it.  Tenderly, personally, faithfully...He loves us.  He loves me.  He gives us instincts and His Word to help us, to provide for us, to make our lives better.  But that isn't His ultimate goal.  His ultimate goal is for us to KNOW Him.  To have a relationship with Him.  To reflect Him.  To trust Him. 
I love that He's impressed that on my heart this week. 
Remembering those newborn days and looking forward to the days ahead...

I hope you feel loved today. 
If you don't, you can.  He offers a love that compares to none other. 
It's found through salvation in Jesus alone and it's your's for the taking.  Don't waste another day wondering if you are loved.  You are.  My prayer is that you will be encouraged in His love today or be willing to receive it, if you haven't already.

In the words of the David Crowder Band,
"Oh, how He loves us, Oh...
How He loves us, Oh, How he loves..."


Laurie G said...

Beautiful, Steph... thanks!

Rebekah said...

I'm a blog stalker I guess :) I just had to comment on how blessed this post made me feel. I have a 21 month old and a 3 month old and your words of truth brought sweet tears when I thought of my precious babies and the privilege of being their mama. Also, the amazing blessing of being a child of the Father. There is truly nothing like it, and no way that I could survive without it. Thank you for this beautiful post :)

Holly said...

Awesome steph.. your kids will love reading your beautiful posts about them when they get older. Love that verse as well!

Darla said...

I loved when you shared this last weekend at Nicole's shower and I was equally blessed reading it on your blog again now. I had never thought of that verse in the context of parenting, but when you broke it down on Saturday I felt freshly inspired in my role of motherhood. You really articulated things beautifully. Thank you for blessing me with that. You are a gifted woman in many ways, Stephanie.

Toni :O) said...

Great post and Happy First Birthday to your sweet boy! My oh my it's been a fast year! Wow!