The Land of Plenty

My wife and I wake up these days not to an alarm clock. We awake to the sniffles, grunts, groans, and cries of a hungry, almost three-month-old boy. Thankfully, for several weeks now, his hunger whines haven’t begun until we’ve gotten a good six, seven, even eight hours of sleep. When Jesse was first born, it was every two hours he would need to eat.

Usually, after hearing those first morning sounds, one of us can lurch down the hall, grab a bottle from the fridge, and fill Jesse’s belly before the crying gets too aggravated. Sometimes we don’t make it before the real crying begins, though. When Jesse is hungry, I mean really longing for food, he is insatiable. You can attempt all the tricks that work when he’s merely fussy or bored. “Bingo,” what we’ve discovered to be his favorite song, does nothing. Not even when you get to the part when you spell out “B-I-N-G-O” with the biggest smile you can muster. His cry is so loud I’m not sure he can hear you anyway. His bellows flood the room, and everyone within earshot is concerned with the same thing he is: getting him something to eat. When Jesse begins crying like that, his focus is singular and unwavering. No logical outreach comforts him. His own hunger, his own absorbed desire, claims his whole consciousness. Sometimes I think that if he would just stop crying for one second and look at us, working to bring him food or speaking softly to him, he will calm down. He never does, and you all but have to force the bottle in his mouth, ramming it through his screams. Futilely, Julie sometimes asks him: When have I ever not fed you?

I’m beginning to understand why Scripture tells us children are a gift of God and the man who fills his quiver with them is blessed. Seeing Jesse at his worst offers much more insight into my own condition, and into God’s.

How many times have I screamed so loud as to even scare myself, when I could have leaned my head against the shoulder of my Father and found comfort? How many times have I squeezed the tears from my eyes so hard that I don’t see Him preparing my next meal? How often do I let the grumblings of my belly control my head, my heart, and my tongue and doubt the God’s provision? How often does all that deafen my ears as He asks, When have I ever not fed you?

When Jesse is in the midst of his fits, I want nothing more than to soothe him. Partially that’s due to the fact that I selfishly seek my own peace and quiet. But, through grace imparted to me, much of it is because I want him to know how we love him. I want him to know that we can meet this need of his, and we will. I want him to know he needn’t be scared, or worried, or angry and that those things shroud the sight of the good before him. His failure to trust his caregivers—we who know what is best for him and seek to do it—terrorizes him more than the need itself.

When have I ever not fed you?

These days are trying us. Money is tight. The path we try to steer isn’t straight, nor is it clear. So many questions dog us about our future. Will we? Can we? Should we? How will we? Many a time the last few months have I cried so loud and so hard that I’ve pushed myself away from the shoulder on which I’ve been resting.

When have I ever not fed you?

The quiet morning moments after a feeding are the best. Gliding back and forth in Jesse’s nursery rocker, neither of us makes much noise. I look down at him, and his eyes glaze over, finally satisfied—for an hour or two. Sometimes he’ll stay awake long enough to look back up at me, and that’s when it’s easiest to coax a grin from him. He knows he’s taken care of, and his joy in that is obvious when he cranks the smile wide across his face. Deep, satisfying fulfillment comes to me too. For the time being, I know he’s taken care of, and this need has been met. That’s what I wanted all along, for him to find joy in provision we have offered him.

And here’s where I have to take the biggest lesson from Jesse and admit how rarely do I fully trust God. I am not enamored with His provision, His mercy, His grace. I must admit Jesus is not enough for me. I’ve seen this so much more clearly by watching my son (I thought I was the one who would be teaching him).

After the feeding is over, after I’ve patted the burps out of his chest, after we grin at each other and find that satisfaction, Jesse falls asleep. Sometimes gently, sometimes with a fuss. But when Jesse sleeps, he sleeps hard, without inhibition and with near-perfect peace. His mind doesn’t race to the next need. Better yet, his mind doesn’t skip to the next want. Instead he rests. Quietly. Calmly. Trustingly.

When have I ever not fed you?

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