Last night, my two-week-old daughter didn’t feel like sleeping. Instead, she was in high-maintenance mode and had basically taken me hostage.
Hostage negotiations went something like this: “Dad, I know mommy needs to sleep right now, but that’s not my concern. I’m feeling the need to be pacified really badly. So you have a choice: you either hold me until I go into a baby coma, or you lay me down and I’ll scream so loud that mommy will hear me no matter where I am in the house. So what will it be, Dad?”
I felt helpless. “But I need sleep too. Can’t you just -”
“No!” she communicated with a reddening face and furrowed brow. “Choose or I’ll choose for you. One . . . two . . . ”
“Okay, okay,” I said, pulling her out of the bassinet, taking her in my arms, and trying all sorts of combinations of pacification to get her to go to sleep.
No matter what I tried, I wasn’t successful. Fortunately though, she calmed down enough to relax in my arms while I looked at her, silently counting down to the moment when she would finally conk out.
At some point during what became an hour and a half of daddy-daughter bonding time, the monotony turned into contemplation, and it hit me all over again that this little girl was mine – Joshua Rogers’ daughter.
I got about ten inches from her face, looked at her straight in the eyes, and twice very deliberately said, “I’m your daddy.”
Suddenly I was overwhelmed by a rush of emotion and revelation that this little round-faced beauty really was my little girl. My face burst into a huge smile, and I sort of whisper-shouted through grinning teeth, “Oh my goodness!”
And then it happened.
For the first time since she’s been outside the womb, my baby girl looked back at me and her face exploded into a massive grin as well. I’m not talking about one of those crooked, random, baby-face muscle contortions. I’m talking about a look of utter glee – a perfectly symmetrical smile combined with two, squinty beaming eyes.
My face dropped in shock. “Are you smiling at me?” I asked out of genuine curiosity.
Her face dropped, as if she seemed startled at the sudden change in my expression. And then, as if she were just teasing, her face exploded into glee all over again.
This brief exchange between us was one of the most gratifying, one of the most deeply moving moments of my life. I’ll always treasure it.
And I can’t help it, but after moments like these – moments so divine – I’m convinced God interacts with us this way as well.
Now I know that most of the time, with regard to how we relate to God, it seems like we’re in this ongoing, mindless state of neediness. We’re all so fussy. It seems like He thanklessly spends so much time rocking us and shushing us and singing over us. For all that, the best He usually gets in return is a stop to our screaming.
We stand in worship services trying to respond meaningfully, but most of the time, we’re just reading the words and feeling all needy and fussy. And then we have that rare moment of clarity, that explosion of gratitude, that breathtaking realization that the bloodied Savior – the very Son of God – that was for us.
And the window opens for just a moment. We see God gleaming and saying, “I’m your Daddy!” and we burst into a corresponding grin, with our heart singing and exploding with an unspeakable chorus of praise.
Oh, how He must feel to see our hearts open up to Him like that – even for a moment. How it must affirm His goodness, all the long nights, all the rocking, all the shushing, all the songs He sang which had words our minds couldn’t comprehend. In that moment, how the Cross must be so worth it to Him.
May it be our prayer that He will give us the grace to see past our neediness, even for a moment, so that we can, with Him, experience His love and smile back.