Blissfully often, he would fall asleep on my chest, his tiny mouth open and his little arm curled up towards his face. He loved being as close to me as possible, and would spend hours wrapped tightly to my body, our hearts beating so close to one another’s it was hard to tell which heartbeat was mine and which was his. The only way to get him to sleep at night was to hold him tightly, his head on my shoulder, and rock him for twenty minutes or so until he dozed off. In those early days, when he was so little, despite my sickness and the chemo bags that were often wired into my arm, John Paul was often as close to me as he had been in the womb.
These day, there are still times when my sweet boy loves to cuddle. When he’s tired he’ll burrow his head into my chest, or when he face-plants into the floor (which has sadly become a regular occurence lately) he’ll cry and reach out for me, immediately grasping my neck when I pick him up. I treasure these moments because much of the time my growing boy is too busy crawling towards his newest discovery, using the coffee table to pull himself up to standing, or trying to figure out how some toy works to bother snuggling with me. He’s growing up, right before my eyes, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop it! He even wears sweater vests (which is the true sign of a man, just ask my husband):
Now, of course I want to watch my sweet baby grow up. It’s incredible to see him discovering and learning new things everyday, and it is so much fun to interact with the person he’s becoming more and more each day. But I’m finding I have to work harder and look longer for those precious moments of closeness, and I know that it’s only going to get more difficult as he continues to grow.
And so, I’m napping more with John Paul, so that I can still experience the closeness of his sweet peaceful face next to mine. I’m hugging him a little harder and a little longer than he wants every time I pick him up, his legs and arms flying all over the place in my arms as he wants to constantly be moving and exploring. I kiss him all over his face even while he’s sucking on a bottle. And last week when he was sick and kept waking up at two a.m., though I could have rocked him and put him back in his crib, I instead brought him into bed with Mike and me. In short, I’m finding that I have to be more intentional about our closeness.
And lately, I’ve found the same thing to be true of my relationship with God. When I was sicker than I’d ever been and more afraid than I’d ever been, I reached a point I never had before. I reached the point when I no longer had any choice but to let go of everything – all of my fears, my anxieties, my hopes, my dreams, my selfish desires, and all of my very self – and give it to God. I wish that I had been strong enough to give up everything to God on my own accord, when things were going well, and when I was able to choose to do so, merely because it is what He asks of us. But I am weak and struggle against my own sinfulness, and it was only when I had no other choice that I was finally able to let go and become free. And in that time of freedom, I found myself closer to God than I had ever been before.
Now that I’m in remission, and growing stronger and moving closer to who I was before I got sick, I’m finding that I’m also growing weaker in trust and moving further away from God. I’m ashamed to admit it, but now that my own weakness and immortality isn’t as much in the forefront of my mind, I’ve started to forget how much I always need to rely on God, whether I’m healthy or sick, weak or strong.
God tells us this:
4 Yet I have been the LORD your God
Since the land of Egypt;
And you were not to know any god except Me,
For there is no savior besides Me.
5 I [g]cared for you in the wilderness,
In the land of drought.
6 As they had their pasture, they became satisfied,
And being satisfied, their heart became proud;
Therefore they forgot Me. (Hosea 13 : 4-6)
I know, without a doubt, that God led me through the wilderness when I was lost, and gave me water when I was parched. It was the grace of God that helped me learn to trust in His goodness, no matter what His plan is for my life, even before I knew whether I was in remission or not. God gave me freedom when he gave me strength to align my will with His. And now, I must not grow spiritually weary, but remain spiritually energetic, always praising Him and giving everything to Him. For when I was going through chemotherapy and was the weakest physically I’ve ever been in my life, my spiritual weakness was also revealed to me. I was shown how greatly we need God, everyday, always, no matter where we are in our lives. At times we might be suffering so greatly that we cannot help but grow so close to Him as to kiss His scars. At other times we might live in a period of abundance so great that we grow further and further from Him. But we must always remember our weakness that has been revealed to us, and be intentional about remaining close to our Lord.
And when we are intentional about being close with God, we will find Him. For He has said:
13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29: 13)
Let us remember to always seek God, in every moment of every day.