They say that, of a Sunday, it’s harder to find volunteers to work with bed babies than with any other age group in the church. I can’t imagine why. What could be more satisfying than cuddling a soft, happy, smiling, cooing, drooling infant? Not much that I can think of, unless it’s calming a little one whose smile has faded. Now, I realize that this may be the very challenge that keeps most people away from “Room A1,” but I welcome the challenge of comforting babies who are upset. Flushed cheeks, red gums, and squeezed up, watery eyes? Bring it on. I’m your girl.
I haven’t always felt this way, though. In fact, just a year ago, I was the hand-off queen where other people’s babies were concerned. I loved playing with the happy ones, feeding the hungry ones, and rocking the sleepy ones. I didn’t even mind changing the dirty ones, but when those tricks didn’t work, I was at a loss. I didn’t have a clue what they needed or how to give it to them, and I felt sure they knew it. At the first opportunity, I passed my fussy charge off into more capable hands.
Then came Dax. About six months old when we first met, handsome little Dax was at once a bundle of energy and opinion. Anxious to be about big boy things, he didn’t have time for his bottle, couldn’t be bothered with a nap, and seemed determined to discover whether my new Pantene conditioner really would allow hair to twist, tie, and stretch without breaking. When I joined the nursery staff, we were outnumbered three or four to one, depending on the Sunday, so there was no passing Dax to someone else at the first sign of trouble. All of the more capable hands were full. Fortunately, Dax was patient with me, throwing me a bone now and then in the form of rosy-eyed, come-on-you-can-do-this smiles that were so brief I thought I’d imagined them. As I worked him from one position into the next, alternately singing and humming old hymns, I wondered what the problem could be. Was he teething? Did his tummy hurt? Was he just missing his mommy? Finally, I realized that my arms were tense and made myself relax. Once I did, Dax got a big handful of my hair, and, in one swift motion, rolled himself, my hair, his pacifier, and his monkey, up into a tight ball of knit and denim against my stomach. I waited for him to shift again, but he didn’t. He just lay there, peeking at me sideways from under the edge of a blanket, his eyes droopy, an impish grin holding a shaky pacifier in place. My heart melted. Afraid to move, I told him what a funny little guy he was and promised to start wearing ponytails. Remembering that I was a Sunday school teacher, I told him that Jesus loved him and that even though I had no idea what he needed or wanted and wouldn’t always understand what he was trying to tell me, Jesus knew. Dax can crawl now, and they tell me that he will be promoting soon. I must admit that I have shed a few tears over it and am soaking up every moment that I have with him. As he dozed off in my lap last week, I looked back over all that God has taught me through that boy and his little friends, and I realized that I am a lot like the babies I care for.
Though I like to think of myself as being complex and tend to assume that everything I experience is unique to me, I’m really not all that complicated. Like everyone else, I have needs that must be met. I hurt and seek comfort. I get weary and need rest. I make mistakes and need help, but most importantly, I am utterly dependent upon God for everything. Normally, this fact brings me indescribable joy and peace, but sometimes, I get fussy. When things aren’t going the way I think they should, I trick myself into thinking that just because I don’t understand what God is doing, He must not understand me. Not true.
The real trouble is that while God speaks my language, I don’t speak His. Not only does He understand exactly what I am going through, but He also knows what purpose my present circumstances and trials will serve in the future. He would probably explain it to me if He thought I could understand it or that it would do any good, but I couldn’t and it wouldn’t. Though I am growing spiritually and learning more about God every day, as a human being, I just don’t have the vocabulary or the capacity to understand things that are simple to God. So, He communicates with me on a level I can understand by way of His Holy Spirit, providing for my every need, rejoicing with me when I am happy, consoling me when I am upset, cleaning me up when I get dirty, whispering encouragement when I am confused or afraid in the form of whatever Scripture I have bothered to learn, and holding me tightly through it all. His presence is enough, and when I finally give in and let go, I realize I am in the most capable of hands.