“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
Michael, Tucker, and I like to watch the world go by on our screened-in porch.
Tucker in particular likes to watch people walk to and fro on our street – bonus points if those people are walking a dog and making a lot of noise. In Tucker’s world, those are the best kinds of people.
Today, kitten’s ears pricked and his paws cupped his chin as he lowered his head to stalk the nearest movement. I looked up to see what grabbed kitten’s attention this time.
It was a toddler wearing plaid and his dad following him with careful hands always at the ready to catch a tumble.
The toddler chose his points of interest and without hesitation followed his tiny little heart’s desire to each new moment: the grass, the sidewalk, a small, flat boulder.
The toddler and his dad stopped at the boulder. The toddler slapped it and looked at his dad. The dad slapped it too and smiled and showed how to climb on. Toddler stared in determination and climbed, but cautiously stayed crouched down on all fours. The dad held out his hands and encouraged Toddler to stand on his own on top of the boulder he’d just conquered.
Boldly, the toddler stood on shaky legs, thrilled to pieces. But the cute thing was, he wasn’t really standing on his own. His dad was holding him with careful arms but Toddler didn’t notice. Toddler was too excited and pleased with life at the moment to notice. He smiled at his dad, and his dad smiled back. The toddler delighted in his boulder victory, and the dad delighted in his son.
It stirred in my heart: they are made in the image of God – the baby and the dad.
Just look at the wide-eyed curiosity and enthusiasm the toddler enjoys. I like to think that the God who made fluffy clouds and macaroni and cheese and slinkies and giraffes with long necks and ticklish spots is a creative and curious and enthusiastic God, just like the hopeful toddler.
When Jesus’s disciples asked Him who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, Jesus responded this way:
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4).
But my favorite part to watch might have been the toddler’s dad. While the toddler delighted in the world around him, in the flat boulder and the green grass, the dad delighted in his son. I like to think that’s how our Heavenly Father feels about us. The toddler’s dad was protective. He encouraged. He played. He smiled and he laughed along with Toddler’s squeals with kind eyes and when his son tried to run at top speed down a hill, the dad was there to run with him and slow him down because the short toddler legs were tying up in knots.
It reminded me of how sometimes all of us get tied up in knots. And Jesus tells us we have a Father “Our Father in heaven, Holy is your name…” (Matthew 6:9), who, David reminds us, is there with us in both the tangled knots and the victorious heights:
“Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar…If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:1-14).
So the dad delighting in his son is an image of our Heavenly Father. And the son smiling with delight is the image of our powerful, good, exciting God.
How God can reveal Himself through both the unashamed joy of a toddler and the unconditional love and security of a dad all at the same time is a mystery and a comfort. I like to think God has loving eyes and careful hands for His children like this dad on our street. And at the same time, I like to think God has excitement, adventure, and joy like the toddler exploring the land.
So if we are made in His image as sinful (but forgiven, my friends!) humans, how much greater, then, is this perfect God we serve? Mm. So good.