Matthew 18:2-4 (NASV) “And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Some of the most pivotal things I have learned about God, I have learned from being a mother.

I was reflecting recently on how spiritually hungry I have been lately. It seems as if the closer I get to God, the more hungry I become. A friend of mine asked me, “How are you feeding your hunger?” Her question really forced me to consider what steps I am taking in chasing after God. I came to the conclusion that I have been feeding my hunger in two distinct ways.

1) I am pressing in to the worship of God and the discovery of Who He is and who I am in Him.

2) I am stepping out into the role that He created me to fill in His mission to the world.

This realization made me think of the way children develop and grow in relation to a parent and the world. When my son was small, there was a pattern of behavior he would display. He would slide down out of my lap and explore a little, then he would come back and want to get in my lap again. Over and over he repeated this process. Then, as I watched, he began to explore for longer periods of time and move farther away from me as his confidence grew. I began to understand that he was growing. He would go out to explore his world and learn his place in it, then always come back to me for his security, love, nurturing, and nourishment. As he grew and learned, he fell down sometimes, and occasionally, he got hurt. Yet, he knew that I would always be there to take care of his every need. As he grew confident in that knowledge, he was able to be more independent and confident in his ability to do things. Even now, though, he always comes back to mom whenever he feels insecure, wounded, or hungry.

Now, that is not to say that things are always perfect between him and me. He doesn’t always understand why I make certain rules. Sometimes he is rebellious. Sometimes our problems involve the hurts of life. There have been times when he has lashed out at me when he isn’t even angry with me. He lashes out his frustration and anger because he knows that my love for him can absorb and overcome that pain. He is so secure in my love for him that he knows he can let it all out and I will never love him less. He is confident in this: that it doesn’t matter how ugly, messy, or broken he becomes, he is still MINE. He is precious to me–a fact that will never change.

Isn’t that just like the pattern of growth for a child of God? We press in toward Him, to learn Who He is and who we are in Him. We feed on His Word, which declares His love for us. We learn about His character and His great love for us. We bask in His affection and we test and see that He is always faithful to be there right when we need Him for love, security, nurturing, and nourishment. Then, we step out into the world to learn what our place is in it–that special call that He has given us to fill a specific role within the mission He is doing in this world. No matter what we experience, whether it be radiant success, or a painful fall, we always run back to the One Who will never leave us or forsake us. As we go through this pattern over and over, we begin to gather courage in who He has created us to be, and we learn and grow under the loving care of our heavenly Father.