Matthew 5:48 says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
This seemingly impossible ask is answered by the wise words of C.S. Lewis, “This Helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty. As a great Christian writer (George MacDonald) pointed out, every father is pleased at the baby’s first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son. In the same way, he said, “God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.”
If you ask your child how they feel when they do something good – read with their little sister, be kind to the new kid in class – they will respond that it makes them feel good. There is a reward in doing our Christian duty, God’s pleasure. Yet often as parents, we do not recognize the pleasure of our Heavenly Father when we do our duty, as we serve our family.
Because of our own imperfect childhoods or doctrinal misperceptions, we often view God as either a judgemental tyrant or an endlessly accepting and affirming grandpa. He is neither. His perfect knowledge and love allow Him to rejoice in our smallest progress and inspire us to even greater things.
“I want God, not my idea of God.” C.S. Lewis
We should seek to understand for ourselves the nature of God, to recognize how he views our own feeble steps, for we are his children too. We mothers are often plagued with insecurity and guilt, but in our self-condemnation, we forget that Christ called us to be “as little children”. He knew that children err, they are ignorant and often impetuous – yet they are dependent and trusting of their parents. It is not imperfection God condemns, but pride.
A friend of mine had four boys. She was frustrated that all four started walking at 9 months. I remember she even resorted to forcing them on their bum whenever they stood up. She just wanted a baby a little longer! Other times, as with my overly-contented babies, we are frustrated by our fat and jolly 14-month-old, content to stick with crawling. Is there something wrong with this kid? Why can’t he just walk?! We use comparisons and milestones to measure success, but God uses no such metrics. We may walk early or late but His pleasure propels us forward toward His purpose.
God is a rejoicing parent. Yes, He is displeased by open rebellion, but He does not condemn the unready walk us, spiritual toddlers. He wants our progress, He knows eternal joy is found in growth and perfection. Our knowledge of His true nature helps us to move forward and to grow more firm in our steps.
As parents, we should seek to parent as our Eternal Father does and be parented by Him. We should show our pleasure at our children’s stumbling efforts – notice them, praise them. Our expressed pleasure will propel them forward to become more. We should also seek to feel the pleasure of God as we grow firm in the steady walk of one of his grown children.
I suggest reading the following by C.S. Lewis as we seek to parent like, and recognize our loving Father.
Artwork: Edmund Adler