There's something about sleeping babies, isn't there? Something that causes us to want to watch them forever. To stand by the crib, or pull up the rocking chair really close and just sit there. And stare. And try not to blink. And hear the little coos and wimpers and sighs. It's magical and captivating. It can take your breath away. It's kind of like sitting on the beach while the ocean waves crash on the shore, or staring out your window at a summer lightning storm, or being mesmerized by the flickering flames of a campfire. It's kind of like those things. Except it's different.
Staring at a baby takes your breath away in a whole new way. It's its own realm. Because the baby is going to grow up. He isn't going to be a baby forever. Time is ticking. The ocean waves have been there since creation and will be there until God makes all things new (and maybe there's even oceans in heaven...how fun would that be?)
The lightning storm will pass certainly, but another one will come in a few weeks or months or next summer, and more than likely the next lightning storm will be just as fantastic as this one.
And fires...well you can build a campfire anytime you want, and although my fire-loving husband may disagree, to most of us all campfires look for the most part the same. Mesmerizing for certain, but easily duplicated nonetheless.
But not a child. The particular baby you love to watch is only a baby for but the blink of an eye, and that baby can NEVER be duplicated. Not in the least. You are watching the one and only. It should take your breath away more than anything else.
The sleeping child is vastly set apart from the crashing waves or the flickering fire or the lightning bolts because that child you're staring at is created in the very image of God, set apart from all the rest of creation. That child should capture your heart more than anything else.
Every night I have the incredible honor of kissing four sleeping "babies" before I go to bed. And I watch them sleep for a few minutes. And tuck them in all cozy, gathering dolls and stuffed animals and blankies from where they've fallen on the ground and tucking them in safely in the crook of my child's arm. And although three of my four are technically not babies anymore, they are MY babies. And they take my breath away. They captivate me. They are so beautiful - always, but when sleeping it's just something else.
And they are so full of promise. Again, always, but I think when they are sleeping, the "fullness of promise" just strikes me anew because I can actually hear myself think during those moments. In the midst of their waking hours, I can't usually hear my own thoughts. But when they are asleep and I kiss them goodnight and take in their beauty for a moment, I can hear myself think, and I am astounded as I ponder how full of promise they are.
In the first chapter of the book of Jeremiah in the Bible, God tells Jeremiah "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5). Did you catch that? "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."
Wow. And although God is talking to Jeremiah specifically here, let us not think this truth is just true for Jeremiah. Psalm 139:16 says: "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Each human child comes into this world created by God for great purpose. Created on purpose for a purpose. Known by God, created by God, loved by God.
And I think this is why we are so captivated by sleeping babies. Because even though the story of Jeremiah might not run through your mind, God has imprinted this truth on every human heart. That you were created for a purpose. That this baby or child that you are staring at was created on purpose, for a purpose. And that child is uniquely designed for that specific purpose, and God is going to equip that child to do His work in this world for whatever time that child has in front of him.
And the weight of that truth stops us in our tracks. It SHOULD take our breath away and capture our hearts. And we have to stare. And just wonder. What, God? What purpose? What mountain is this baby going to climb? What distance lands are these tiny little feet going to travel? What people is this child going to travel to, bringing the love of Jesus? What discoveries have You prepared for this child to discover? What is going to set this child's heart ablaze? What is going to be his burning passion that he just absolutely has to conquer?
All of THIS is what THAT moment is all about when I watch my children sleep. So full of promise. So uniquely created by God. So destined for something great; and taking a moment to ponder it all is for certain the most majestic moment of my day.
Later on in Jeremiah, God says to him, "Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things that you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3). Great and mighty things. God has great and mighty things prepared for my adorable lovable little baby boy asleep in his crib. He has great and mighty things for my bulldozer loving, firetruck loving, backhoe loving boy asleep under his firetruck quilt. He has great and mighty things for my tender-hearted baking princess tucked into her purple fleece blankets. He has great and mighty things for my confident, responsible art-loving princess sound asleep in her pink and purple bed. Great and mighty things. For my kids. That's astounding. That captivates me. What a wonder to take it all in.
Sometimes in those moments I almost feel like Moses, when God told him to remove his shoes at the burning bush because he was on holy ground. There is something deeply sacred and holy and set apart about those quiet moments in which you get to ponder the greatness of each child created in the image of God. And the fact that God created them to somehow impact His Kingdom for His glory. Whoa. And how amazing that God allows us to be caught up into that story. In whatever role you play in that child's life, be it a parent or teacher or grandparent or aunt or uncle or mentor or friend - you get to play a role in that child's great and mighty story. What an honor.
So. Be mesmerized. By every child. Every single one is the one and only.