Dec 8, 2017

Like Little Children

By Hannah Stuckwisch

"Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

In many ways, marriage and family are pictures of our relationship with God. This is explicitly described in the New Testament in places such as Ephesians 5 and Matthew 7, and is understood even from the name God the Father, and from the frequent description of Jesus as the heavenly bridegroom. Many times since Nick and I were engaged and now that we are married I have thought about how this picture goes both ways. Just as Jesus and his Church can teach us much about marriage, so also marriage teaches us about Jesus and the Church. The unconditional love that a husband shows to a wife, even when not deserved, gives a glimpse into the perfect unconditional love that Christ has for us.

As we are now very close to the arrival of our first child, it has struck me how pregnancy is also a great picture of our life on earth and relationship with God. An unborn child is completely and utterly dependent upon his or her mother. If separated from her, he would not live. Everything he has and is comes from his parents, just as everything we have and are comes from our Father in Heaven. Whether or not that child understands this doesn't matter. A mother continues to nourish her baby regardless of what that child understands or believes about her, and even when that child is being troublesome and causing her pain. During the nine months the baby spends in his mother's womb, the parents eagerly prepare for his arrival, setting up a nursery and getting clothes and diapers and blankets for him, just as our Father in heaven prepares a place for us even now.  The baby doesn't know when he will be born, and often the parents don't know either. Rather, we live in the day to day hope of an event that we know is coming eventually.

The long months of waiting, especially now when we have reached the "any day now" point, remind me of Advent and of waiting for the last day. All we know is "soon." The day and the hour of both events is still hidden to us. While we will have to suffer through literal labor pains before meeting our baby and figurative labor pains of the ending of this world before Christ returns, we know that much better things lie ahead than those we will leave behind. We can be just as certain that Christ will return as we are that eventually our child will exit the womb.

Finally, an unborn baby cannot live by sight. He cannot see his parents, or know them by sight. But little babies can and do recognize their parents by their voices, just as we recognize our Savior by his voice. When the baby is born and finally can see his mother and father face to face, he knows them even though their sight is unfamiliar because of their voices. What a great picture for us, to remind us that there is much much more than what we can see with our eyes, and that even when all we see is darkness we are still in the loving arms of our heavenly Father who promises us that the day is coming soon when this world will pass away and we will be able to see him face to face.

Of course, no picture is perfect, and there are instances where marriage and family and pregnancy fall very short of this picture. Marriages fall apart, fathers abandon or abuse their children and mothers kill their babies while still helpless in their womb. All of these things are horrible not just because they distort God's order, not just because they attempt to teach something false about our relationship with God, but also and obviously because they hurt and harm everyone involved. But despite the fact that God's good gifts of marriage and family are often abused, and despite the fact that even the best of marriages and families are not perfect comparisons with our lives as Christians, nevertheless they are still good pictures and can still teach us in a very tangible way about some of the mysteries of Christianity.

We can learn from our relationships in our families more about our relationship with God, and likewise we can learn from our relationship with God the Father and his Son, the heavenly bridegroom, how our earthly relationships are meant to be. In these last days of waiting for our daughter to arrive, we can continue to learn from her that we are entirely dependent on our loving Father in Heaven who constantly cares and provides for us and who is preparing a place for us in Heaven just as we are preparing a place for little Raspberry here in our apartment.

Editor's note: This piece was written when Hannah was pregnant. She is now mother to a precious baby girl. 


Hannah Stuckwisch is a Minnesota born and raised pastor's daughter married to an Indiana pastor's son. She graduated from Bethany Lutheran College with a degree in music and shortly thereafter started her "career" a wife and mother. Some of her favorite things include languages, photography, winter, strawberries, Tolkien, and board games. She blogs at Strawberries with Cream.

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