The other day on Catholic radio, a priest (can’t remember his name unfortunately) was discussing God’s love for us, as well as His great desire to forgive us. And he used the words of a saint (again, I’m not sure which one, but I believe it was St. John Vianney) to make his point:
“The Lord is more anxious to forgive us than a mother is to pull her baby out of a burning building.”
Wow, thought I. Now that’s a visual that I, as a mother, can easily, powerfully grasp. As a parent, of course, there’s no question that if my child were in a burning building, I would hasten to go to my child and rescue him or her, even if it meant putting myself in harm’s way. The thought of God wanting my attention and love even more than the passion that would drive me to such lengths is overwhelmingly beautiful.
God doesn’t want us to come to Him with our sins so that we will approach Him like a child deserving shame. God wants reconciliation with us so He can get to the good stuff — the part where we’ve been released from our wrongs and can be fully drawn into God’s unconditional embrace of pure love.
How much better I can understand God’s love for me knowing the love I have for my own children. In fact, I wonder if God’s plan for many of us includes having children so that we might see His love for us more clearly through our parent eyes. Only when we recognize the passionate love we have for our own can we begin to see the depths of God’s love for us.
This relates to something else on which I’ve been focused this Lent. We’re going through some tough times working to raise two teens and their three younger siblings. And I’ve been feeling a bit like that mother running to the smoky building, seeing that a few of my kids are inside it, and trying to think how I might rescue them.
One in particular has brought me to my knees in worry and concern. My husband and I are having to grapple with some big decisions about how we might best help this child to succeed, and we are weary. This has been a long struggle and the answers remain unclear. And yet, I’m not anywhere close to giving up. In moments, yes, I feel exasperated, and that seems like the thing to do — just walk away. And yet I can’t, no more than God could walk away from me if I were to be caught in an inferno.
I must continue searching for a way in, a way to reach my child. But if anything has become clear to me in this process, it’s the realization that I cannot walk into that building alone. I cannot save my child without the help of the One who loves my child even more than I do. In fact, my part in my child’s salvation is quite small, even though I feel the bigness of it in my own soul.
I don’t have the answers, but God does. I must trust He will lead me to my children in times of peril like a firefighter with a hose, spraying water to clear away the smoke and flames so that I might see what I need to see, with the hope that love, reconciliation and life everlasting will be possible in the aftermath.
Q4U: When have you felt God’s rescuing hand in your life?