Last week we caught a glimpse of our newest grandbabe, due to arrive in late February. There is a striking resemblance to big brother, Oliver, don’t you think? It’s amazing to get a preview of the wee one on the way!
Ultrasound pictures are lovely, in a gray-scale Monet kind of way. The details are fuzzy — just enough to recognize the reality of what is while sparking our imagination of what will be. An ultrasound image is like peering over the shoulder of an Impressionist. Indeed, we gain the rare view of the Master Artist at work!
I love how the psalmist describes this process.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
I get that knitting bit. I’ve learned that knitting truly is an act of love. It takes time and patience, single stitch by stitch. There is no rushing it. No two works are identical, even of the same pattern. Varying stitches of fibers in a range of hues, weights, and textures yield marvelously unique pieces. A master knitter selects the perfect pattern and materials for the creation she has envisioned. I imagine God does, too.
I remember so clearly when Ollie was born, last January. Immediately, I knew that I knew him. The impression of his daddy, my youngest son, on this newborn was so powerful. He was surprisingly familiar, though clearly unique.
As Ollie grows, he reminds me of his daddy in heartwarming ways. In his sunshiny personality and bubbly bounce; his determination, curiosity, and sharp intellect; in the way he furrows his brow in a moment of concern; in his broad smile, slightly tilted, we are reminded whence he comes. But when he giggles or tells us stories or gives his deep little growl, I hear only Ollie. He is quick to remind us he will be his own person, too!
I wonder if that’s how God feels, when he looks upon his creation. Does he recognize himself in us, though we maintain our independence? I can imagine that when we are newly birthed, fresh from the womb, his fingerprints are fresh upon us, if we knew what to look for. As we grow in our faith and in his ways, we develop other characteristics that bear likeness of our heavenly father.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Sometimes we assert less agreeable characteristics. Sometimes we are not loving, kind, or joyful. Sometimes we are less than gentle, patient, or good. Invariably, some of the dirt and debris of humanity sticks, obscuring the purity of his image. Some days he must have to look harder than others to find his likeness here.
But in a moment of humility, if we recognize we have strayed too far and seek to set things right again, he is ready to help. Then it’s like taking a bubble bath in grace, emerging squeaky clean, as fresh as a baby. Then, for a moment or two, his reflection in us becomes clear again.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139
It’s a privilege to be made in God’s image, among all of creation. It’s a challenge to reflect his characteristics faithfully. Some days are better than others, eh? I hope my heavenly father recognizes himself in me today.
~ René Morley