Last spring after we found out the baby Cindy was carrying would be a boy, I informed her of something I’d read in John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. He contends that around 10, 11, or 12 years old, a boy needs to leave his mother and cling to his father, in order to be ushered into manhood. So that a boy can grow into a man, he must let go of his primary source of nurturing and attention and turn to his father, who hopefully hasn’t been absent to this point. Certainly, he’ll continue to have a relationship with his mother, but it won’t be the same once he has committed to manhood—or perhaps rather, once the father has committed to the boy.
I told Cindy all of this, when we hadn’t even seen him yet. I just wanted her to know how things would work, that she’d have him for about a decade, and then he’d be mine. So sensitive was I to my bride who sacrificed her body for him, while I did little to warrant such a commanding position. Nonetheless, this would be the plan. But when he took his first breaths in the world and I laid eyes on him for the first time, I knew instantly I wouldn’t be able to wait ten years. I wanted him right away. Besides, I cut his cord, so finders keepers, right?
Micah will be nine months soon, and the past three quarters of a year have been wonderful. He certainly has become the apple of my eye. But lately, something has changed. He has begun to favor his mother more than before. I’ll be playing with him or holding him, and if she walks out of the room, he becomes inconsolable. No longer are Daddy’s arms able to calm a distraught baby. And my heart breaks more than his.
He longs for her more than I think I ever have, except maybe that time we were broken up for several months—back before we married. And probably even more. He desires her gentle touch and satisfying nourishment. I think sometimes he gets confused, however, because Jacque looks like a mini-version of Cindy, and she can distract him momentarily. The manner in which he expresses his longing reminded me of something I’d read recently.
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. —Hosea 6:3 esv
The Hebrew word here for “to know” is yāda, which speaks of two types of knowing, and both seem to be involved simultaneously. The first is to know by observing and reflecting, something that sits well with my nature, which is more complacent … er, I mean contemplative. The act of observing and reflecting is difficult for many in our A.D.D. culture. For we often want just the facts, the Cliff’s Notes. We seldom ponder anything for long, allowing our minds to absorb every aspect. But we can’t come to know God without observing and reflecting on His nature, for meditating on the truths of His character will produce a greater comprehension of an incomprehensible God. The second type of knowing is to know by experiencing. This word yāda happens to be the same word to describe sexual intimacy (as in Genesis 4:1), suggesting that God wants us to know Him personally, intimately.
Further, Hosea doesn’t just say, “Let us know.” No, he repeats it for emphasis: “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD.” The word for “press on” is rādap, which means to pursue, to follow after. It’s the word used to describe someone pursuing an enemy with the intent of overtaking him. God wants us to overcome Him in our pursuit.
I am reminded of how we ourselves bear the image and likeness of God, who is deeply relational. He, like us, greatly desires to be pursued. How discouraging to be the one who is constantly building into a relationship, while the other hardly responds. How frustrating to be the one who always calls, e-mails, or texts. How disheartening when advances are frequently made by the one but seldom initiated by the other. Surely God must feel the same way.
Our Father initiates in the morning when the sun gently kisses us awake. (Well, not these days, here in the middle of winter.) He sends us reminders of His presence in the splendor of nature and little gifts of grace throughout the day in various ways, yet we barely notice Him. The great promise of this verse, though, is that, unlike our usual lack of awareness of God’s excessive advances, He is touched by the most insignificant movement we make toward Him. We don’t have to offer Him the moon, as He has done for us. But it would seem that the more intense our pursuit the more we’re likely to find out.
Our girls don’t know how to search for anything. If something has been misplaced, then surely it is gone forever. They become easily exhausted when their hunt involves the Bermuda Triangle we call their bedroom. Sometimes I think we, in the same manner as my girls, give up in our pursuit of God. We read the Bible and don’t instantly understand something. We pray once or twice and don’t sense anything shift in the cosmos. We decide to take back control of our finances because God didn’t write us a check this month. Impatient and untrusting we often are in our relating to God.
To those who endured for countless years what seemed the silence of God, He spoke great encouragement through the prophet Jeremiah. God’s people were living in exile, far away from their home and the Temple, which had been destroyed. (The Temple represented the very presence of God in their midst.) You may be familiar with this passage:
“I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days you when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” —Jeremiah 29:11-14 nlt
When we look for God with all our heart, we will find Him. And finders keepers. But we have to commit to the pursuit, as though our very lives depended on it—the way Micah longs for his mother.
He still loves his daddy and looks forward (at times) to my arms, ones that toss him in the air—as high as Cindy will allow. Oh, I pray the next ten years go by fast.